5 Foods That Raise Your HDL

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5 Foods That Increase Your HDL

Written by Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

So you got the results of your recent cholesterol test, and your HDL cholesterol came back low. Since low HDL is a risk factor for heart disease, you know that you need to elevate it...but how? When all the stories you read are talking about lowering your total cholesterol, why would you want to increase this form of cholesterol?

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the "good" cholesterol. It acts like a cholesterol dump truck, gathering "bad" cholesterol from the arteries and carrying it back to the liver for clearance. This heart protective effect may even slow the buildup of plaque in the arterial walls of the heart. HDL may also have some anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial to your heart. That's why you want your HDL to be high, so it can better carry out these responsibilities and protect your ticker.

What should my HDL be?

According to the American Heart Association, men should aim for HDL levels of 40 mg/dL or greater, and women should aim higher than 50 mg/dL. Levels of 60 mg/dL or more for both genders have been linked to lower disease risks and protection against heart disease. Genetics can affect your HDL level, but lifestyle choices still also play a role. If you want to fight your genes and improve your HDL levels, the following foods can help.

Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, and hazelnuts are all good sources of heart-healthy fats and are great to add to your diet to increase your intake. Add nuts to cereal, yogurt, salad, stir fries, pasta dishes or rice. You can eat them raw, baked or lightly toasted, too.

Seafood

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, and halibut are highest in omega-3 fatty acids, a specific type of unsaturated fat shown to be most beneficial for heart health and reduce the risk of death by heart attack. It is recommended to eat at least 2 servings of fish per week. If you don't eat seafood, you could try fish oil supplements; flaxseed and walnuts contain omega 3ís as well, but fish contains the most usable form of omega-3s.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in unsaturated fats and can help you elevate your HDL. Replace butter and fried foods with foods cooked lightly in a heart-healthy olive oil, and switch to an oil-based vinaigrette for your salads. Oil is healthy, but it's high in fat and calories, so remember to practice moderation and keep your portions in check!

Avocado

Although many dieters shy away from this fruit because of its high fat content, it's perfectly good for you thanks to its heart-healthy fats. Mash avocado to use as a spread on your sandwich or wrap, dice it into your salad, add it to omelets or whip up some homemade guacamole to enjoy with veggies or whole grain crackers.

Oatmeal

Fiber, especially soluble fiber, can help bump up your HDL while reducing LDL. Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, as is rice, bran, barley, dried peas and beans, and certain fruits like prunes and apples. A couple servings a day of these heart-healthy foods can have a positive effect on your HDL.

Don't Forget Exercise!

Along with these HDL-boosting foods, donít forget the daily exercise! Regular exercise signals your body to produce more HDL, making physical activity one of the most important factors to raising your HDL. Start with just 5-10 minutes a few days a week, but gradually increase until you're active for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week. Your heart will thank you!

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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BESSHAILE

11/5/2016 6:08:49 AM

BESSHAILE's SparkPage
LOL - I had 3 of those 5 for dinner last night - fish seared in olive oil and some tree nuts for dessert.

S39435

11/4/2016 11:05:01 PM

S39435's SparkPage
Omg I'm totally behind in everything I do. I'm sitting here and reading everyone's blogs and "I'm like" "wth" have I been doing. Everyone on here has done great things to improve and you may think you haven't but you all have. My problem is sticking with a plan and live by it without fail. I struggle in that department. I was raised in a home "that what is served is what you eat", and it has been a contributor to my adult life/health. Which has me gaining weight and loosing weight the wrong way (starvation). I need a coach who can motivate me and guide me the right direction. Because I can't do it alone SMH. HARD STRUGGLE

RETIREDSUE

11/4/2016 12:24:22 PM

RETIREDSUE's SparkPage
No cholesterol problems fortunately, but avocados are the only item in this list that isn't usually in my diet and i also exercise 6 days a week. :)

SHARONKHARTER

11/4/2016 10:39:54 AM

SHARONKHARTER's SparkPage
I try to use olive oil for my salad dressing and cooking. I like avacados, but they are too expensive to fit in my budget. I do eat sardines, canned salmon, and other seafood.

BREMAC67

11/4/2016 4:05:55 AM

BREMAC67's SparkPage
Is cooking with Olive Oil spray just as good as using the liquid form of Olive Oil? I love all the foods mentioned in this article, especially nuts. My problem with nuts is that I have a hard time eating just a few!

MYEMANON

1/30/2016 7:04:07 AM

MYEMANON's SparkPage
I have a nut and seed allergy and so does one of my children. they have never been a part of my diet. We are also lacto-vegetarians. I can never just follow a food plan because there is always some kind of shifting and balancing act going on to make sure everyone eats well. It does get frustrating. At age 50 my cholesterol has suddenly started creeping up and I am lost on how to adjust my diet without affecting theirs too much. We don't like avocados, so that pretty much leaves us with olive oil and oatmeal. Oh yeah, and exercise.

MYEMANON

1/30/2016 7:03:20 AM

MYEMANON's SparkPage
I have a nut and seed allergy and so does one of my children. they have never been a part of my diet. We are also lacto-vegetarians. I can never just follow a food plan because there is always some kind of shifting and balancing act going on to make sure everyone eats well. It does get frustrating. At age 50 my cholesterol has suddenly started creeping up and I am lost on how to adjust my diet without affecting theirs too much. We don't like avacados, so that pretty much leaves us with olive oil and oatmeal.

MYEMANON

1/30/2016 7:00:56 AM

MYEMANON's SparkPage
I have a nut and seed allergy and so does one of my children. they have never been a part of my diet. We are also lacto-vegetarians. I can never just follow a food plan because there is always some kind of shifting and balancing act going on to make sure everyone eats well. It does get frustrating. At age 50 my cholesterol has suddenly started creeping up and I am lost on how to adjust my diet without affecting theirs too much.

JUSTSUSANHERE

1/21/2016 5:46:25 AM

I recently started taking Crestor 5 mg... after just 6 weeks of taking this and very mindfully watching what I eat, my total cholesterol level went from 271 to 166... all other levels changed accordingly, and my HDL went from
too low to 50. And no pains from this medication like people experience with Lipitor and some of the other statins.

PETERTHEMOOSE

12/13/2015 6:48:54 AM

PETERTHEMOOSE's SparkPage
Hi all, I just found out that I have type 2 diabetes! Last checked blood sugar in June and it was 5.9 .. 6 months later and it's 26.6 yikes!! So along with all my other ailments like heart disease sleep apnea high cholesterol COPD alcohol dependancy and last but not least chronic low back pain since 2001.. but I'm taking this news and I'm going to change everything I do. Eat better, try to excerzise more and just be a better person! Thanks for listening!!

LISADIGIACOMO67

9/18/2015 9:20:38 AM

I need advice. First off I have lost 116lbs sinve January 12, 2015. My total cholesterol is 123, my HDL is 39, LDL is 66. I eat everything that is healthy fish, nuts, low glycemic fruits and vegetables, avocados at least 1 a day, coconut oil, olive oil, no red meat anymore....well maybe once a month. Lean beef or lamb. I cut white out of my diet. My non fasting blood sugar was 82, after drinking orange juice. They had to give me something because it gets so low that I pass out. Please someone tell me how to raise my HDL. I also exercise 5-7 days a week 2x's a day most of the time, weight lifting, cardio and swimming at night. I also walk 5 dogs twice a day.

CLAY10237

9/15/2015 10:38:38 PM

There is no substitute for nuts. Try making "fish sticks" with salmon. Removing the skin and the blood line (the gray flesh) may help the kids. The skin and bloodline are the cause of that "fishy" taste.
Heredity plays a big part in managing cholesterol. Sometimes, you just can't get it down where the docs say you should. More recent research says cholesterol below 220 is not necessarily as significant as once thought. You may want to research Lipitor. It can cause debilitating muscle pain as well as diabetes in women. Its the best for lowering lipids, but its a tough one to tolerate. Other statins still have the anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering affects.
And yes, I have done all this or suffered through it or researched it.
If you don't like nuts or avocados, don't eat 'em.

GLORIADEBERRY

9/15/2015 4:06:01 PM

I love nuts but I can't have them,is there anything I can use to replace the nuts?

TIFFANYJEWELZ

7/23/2015 11:55:12 PM

I think more the food; exercise is the BIGGEST hdl booster.

12ROSESRRED

7/23/2015 9:11:12 AM

any way to get finicky eaters (kids) to like fish? they do like tuna which is gooc

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