5 Foods That Raise Your HDL

Pause                 1 of 8

5 Foods That Raise 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!

See more nutrition slideshows Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments on this Slideshow

(scroll to end to leave a comment)

PDBLACK3

7/28/2011 2:56:51 PM

PDBLACK3's SparkPage
I have found cholesterol to be really confusing. This was timely and informative.

1_AMAZING_WOMAN

7/28/2011 2:19:20 PM

My HDL is high - 57 in fact. What I need to do is lower my LDL. Nothing I do seems to lower that.

TEREMAR

7/28/2011 12:48:11 PM

skinnyminnie25 Thanks for the Idea, I'm trying to eat more salads. I'll try olives next time.

SLIMRO

7/28/2011 12:33:04 PM

I like this presenntation because it was very easy to flip throught he pixes: Fruits, seeds, fish or any heathy protein, healthy carbs, and ofcourse exercise!
See? I even got it memorized. ( Almost!)

HEATHERLILA

7/28/2011 11:10:58 AM

HEATHERLILA's SparkPage
I know mine was low, now I know how to get it back up there!

REBORN4EVER

7/28/2011 10:16:53 AM

As with anything - moderation is the key! However, for those of us who can not consume nuts or anything with seeds challenges are ever present. I choose to supplement with walnut oil, or flaxseed oil. Both can be made into a balsamic vinagrette and both are delicious.

TINABERG1

7/28/2011 10:15:37 AM

I eat mostly healthy -- I have joined the YMCA...my numbers will hopefully be awesome next blood test!!! Thanks!

SKINNYMINNIE25

7/28/2011 9:50:50 AM

SKINNYMINNIE25's SparkPage
If you want olive oil, throw a couple of olives in your salad. That way you get the fiber. Oil of any kind is highly concentrated fat. Not a necessary part of any healthy diet. Raise your HDL? exercise and a high fiber, low fat plant based diet.

SANDYJH3

7/28/2011 7:57:47 AM

When it comes to nuts, moderation on those as my husband's heart doctor told him that any nuts can raise your triglycerides, as well as olive oil. The doctor suggested balsamic vinaigrette on salad, which is delicious. Now, prunes, although they may raise HDL's are loaded with sugar, which ends up as belly fat. Why not the plum instead?
I read if you are going to use any olive oil, moderately of course, buy the Italian, cold pressed, extra virgin in a dark bottle for the best benefits of the oils chemistry.

JBPORTAYE

7/28/2011 6:30:10 AM

Thanks for the information

PRAIRIECROCUS

6/23/2011 12:10:19 PM

PRAIRIECROCUS's SparkPage
It is nice to see, at a glance, what foods I should be eating, to improve my HDL !
Thanks for the slideshow !

Comment Pages (6 total)
[6]