Cholesterol is a substance that can be either fatty or waxy and is usually present in the blood. However, most people believe that having high cholesterol is generally unhealthy. The truth is that not all cholesterol is harmful.
Cholesterol is necessary for the body in specific amounts for normal physiological processes. It’s fascinating to note that cholesterol is produced by every animal cell, despite the stigma surrounding it.
For example, cholesterol is a precursor in synthesising steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. In addition, your blood contains proteins that carry cholesterol; when you combine these two, you get lipoproteins.
The most prevalent lipoproteins are HDL and LDL. HDL, high-density lipoprotein, carries cholesterol out of cells and back to the liver. After that, it either disintegrates or the body excretes it as waste. So higher HDL, or “good cholesterol,” levels are fruitful to the body.
LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, transports cholesterol to cells that require it. Overproduction of cholesterol by cells can build up in the arterial walls and lead to coronary artery disease. LDL is therefore known as “bad cholesterol.” A blood test is a reliable way to determine how much HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is present in the body.
Keep reading to learn more about HDL cholesterol and how to raise your levels for improved health.
HDL Cholesterol: An Overview
One of the five primary lipoprotein subtypes is high-density lipoprotein, HDL, which carries around one-fourth of the body’s total cholesterol.
Read more: What is HDL Cholesterol? A Detailed Guide
As they circulate through the bloodstream, H DL particles grow due to the accumulation of more fat molecules and their ability to hold hundreds of them on each particle. While larger lipoprotein particles deliver fat molecules to cells, HDL eliminates fat molecules from the body.
An increase in HDL particle levels has linkages to a reduction in atherosclerosis development in arterial walls, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other vascular disorders.
Due to their capacity to eliminate fat molecules from arterial walls while lessening macrophage buildup and preventing atherosclerosis, HDL particles get known as “good cholesterol.”
LDL Cholesterol vs HDL
HDL or “”Good”” Cholesterol
Your body produces enough cholesterol and flushes out the excess or bad cholesterol. Your liver regulates your cholesterol levels. HDL, a kind of lipoprotein, carries cholesterol to the liver.
But, you must have enough HDLs in your blood to transfer cholesterol to the liver. If your HDL cholesterol levels are noticeably low, “bad cholesterol” will circulate in your blood.
LDL or “Bad” Cholesterol
LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or “bad cholesterol,” takes cholesterol directly to your arteries. It builds up in the inner walls of the arteries, and restricts blood flow.
On the other hand, LDL is referred to as “bad cholesterol” because it can accumulate on the arterial blood wall, resulting in blockages. This accumulation, or “plaque,” can potentially end in a heart attack or stroke.
HDL Cholesterol Levels
Since HDL cholesterol removes LDL cholesterol from the arteries and transports it back to the liver for elimination, it can prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Your cholesterol levels get determined via a blood test known as a “lipid panel.” Following your age, gender, risk factors, and family history, it would be beneficial to undergo this test sometimes or as needed.
For both men and women, healthy HDL levels vary. In their early years, boys and girls have similar HDL levels, but after puberty, the HDL levels of boys drop and stay lower for the rest of their lives.
Depending on age and gender, the following values for normal HDL cholesterol levels include:
Anyone (19 or younger)
- More than 45 mg/dl: At risk
Men (aged 20 or over)
- Less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L): At risk
- 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above: Desirable
Women (aged 20 or over)
- Less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L): At risk
- 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above: Desirable
HDL values above 60 mg/dL are considered high, but below 40 mg/dL are considered low. The ideal HDL level, according to experts, is between 40 to 59 mg/dL, and greater levels might not provide extra benefits.
In some instances, having very high HDL can increase the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. However, children are less prone than adults to develop high cholesterol. However, anyone over 20 should have their cholesterol checked every five years.
The HealthifyMe Note
Reduced HDL cholesterol levels frequently come from unhealthy lifestyle choices, including poor eating habits and inactivity, which raise your risk for heart disease. At first, low HDL cholesterol has no symptoms. As a result, it is vital to have your cholesterol levels routinely checked. There are many healthy ways to increase HDL cholesterol levels. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle and exercising may reduce your risk of low HDL cholesterol-related issues.
Ways to Boost Your HDL Cholesterol Level
Several studies found that although some medications can increase HDL cholesterol, they do not necessarily reduce your risk of heart disease. Therefore, it is essential to frequently concentrate on lifestyle changes that will increase HDL levels and decrease LDL. These changes could also help you stay healthier overall by preventing various diseases.
But it is essential to remember that, depending on one’s age and gender, the optimal HDL level might differ from person to person. As a result, consult your doctor before making any significant dietary changes or taking any supplements.
Here are some ways to boost HDL cholesterol and keep your heart healthy:
Research shows that exercise can improve HDL levels, which are vital for overall health. Exercise can also lower LDL levels. Activities that enhance HDL cholesterol include weightlifting, aerobic exercise, and high-intensity strength training.
Through the removal of extra fat, exercise can also aid in weight loss. Additionally, engaging in physical activity could benefit your overall health.
Monitor Your Weight
The study found that shedding extra pounds can increase HDL levels while reducing LDL levels. Consequently, if you are overweight, you are more likely to have more cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
Furthermore, being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing cardiac conditions. Dietary changes and increased physical exercise can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Even a 3% reduction in body fat results in a noticeable increase in HDL levels.
Smoking can reduce HDL cholesterol in several ways, including blocking HDL’s ability to synthesise it, delaying its maturation, and accelerating its metabolism and clearance.
As a result, you may have a higher risk of getting cancer, heart attack, and lung disease if you smoke cigarettes. However, one study discovered that quitting smoking can help HDL cholesterol synthesis and metabolism revert to natural levels, allowing HDL to function better.
Heart-Healthy Dietary Choices
Food is the healthiest natural supplement your body can get to increase its heart-healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrient levels. However, saturated fat and cholesterol foods can increase unhealthy cholesterol levels. Therefore, making the right food choices can lower your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL cholesterol.
Limiting deep-fried, oily, greasy, packaged and saturated fat-filled foods will hugely help regulate and lower bad cholesterol. While eating foods such as Avocados, oats, apples, pears, kidney beans, and nuts like walnuts, almonds, bran, and brown rice will help increase good cholesterol HDL. According to research, the DASH diet may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Consume Plant Sterols
Compounds called plant sterols, which are naturally present in plants, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, help reduce LDL cholesterol. A few kinds of cereal, low-fat yoghurt, table spreads like processed cheese dips, mayo, and low-fat milk products also contain plant sterols.
Adding 2 to 3 grams of plant sterol-rich foods to your diet will significantly lower LDL cholesterol by about 10% and raise HDL levels. But before consuming them, pregnant or nursing women should speak with their doctor.
The HealthifyMe Approach to Managing Cholesterol
You can stay healthy if you are aware of your cholesterol level. A lipid profile test measures the lipids values in your blood. Experts believe that losing weight may cause your HDL level to increase.
Additionally, regular exercise lowers LDL while raising HDL levels. As a result, give yourself 30 to 60 minutes per day to engage in intense to moderate exercise. But seniors should limit their physical activity to 30 minutes of moderate activity and avoid overdoing it.
If you are new to this path, knowing what type of exercise would benefit you the most and how long you should devote to it might be challenging. If so, then HealthifyMe and HealthifyPro are the answers.
A tried-and-true fitness program named HealthifyMe suggests simple exercises you can do at home based on your fitness level. With cutting-edge technology, it contains a complete health and fitness tracker that keeps track of food intake, exercise, weight, and water intake.
Depending on your fitness level, the HealthifyMe experts recommend simple activities you may perform at home. Moreover, by joining a Smart Plan, you can get customised workout plans with realistic objectives based on your insights and preferences.
Imagine you are seeking a cutting-edge technological solution that provides real-time customised assistance. If so, HealthifyPro is the pro option for your cholesterol. According to studies, having higher blood glucose/sugar levels puts you at risk of having higher cholesterol. Therefore, monitoring blood glucose levels is appropriate for lowering cholesterol, especially in diabetic patients.
The updated HealthifyPro 2.0 version includes features like Continuous Glucose Monitoring and detailed metabolic health-based corrective dietary guidelines and plan.
The best part of this procedure is that BIOS, the CGM-based wearable gadget that continuously monitors your blood sugar levels, delivers real-time updates—the user and their coaches. Your blood sugar levels get continually monitored by a sensor attached to your arm.
It also records how effectively your body responds to various foods, considering the quantity consumed, the duration, and the particular effects of the food on glucose levels.
According to the user’s metabolic profile and response to dietary and lifestyle changes, each plan is distinct and tailored explicitly for them. Therefore, maintaining normal cholesterol levels and improving your metabolic health will help you reap the rewards of these traits.
Contrary to what you may have previously believed, HDL cholesterol is necessary. Increasing your HDL levels can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Numerous variables, such as physical activity, age, sex, and family history, impact your heart health and cholesterol levels.
Several options are available, like dietary and lifestyle changes that may help increase your HDL levels, while the rate at which this occurs varies from person to person.
A natural way to raise HDL cholesterol levels is by eating foods like avocados, fatty fish, and eggs, to mention a few. Exercise can also aid in lowering LDL and increasing HDL. Of course, it goes without saying if you mix a heart-healthy diet with regular exercise, it will provide the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the normal range for HDL?
A. Researchers have determined that optimal HDL cholesterol levels for men should be at least 40 mg/dl and for women, at least 50 mg/dl. Additionally, children’s levels must be at least 45 mg/dl. High values are those above 60 mg/dL, and low values are those below 40 mg/dL. You can learn your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels to understand your heart disease risk better.
Q. What HDL cholesterol is too high?
A. HDL level above 60 mg/dl is too high. Although, a high HDL value is usually good because it absorbs bad cholesterol in the blood and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it out from the body. Therefore, high HDL cholesterol can lower your heart disease and stroke risk. But, sometimes, very high HDL cholesterol levels might prove harmful. For example, in one study, people with HDL cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dl were nearly 50% more likely to have a heart attack than people whose HDL levels were between 41 to 60 mg/dl.
Q. What happens if your HDL is low?
A. A dangerously low HDL level is below 40 mg/dl. If there is low HDL in the blood, it results in increased risks of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. Low HDL cholesterol can occur due to poor diet, genetic factors, type 2 diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. Sometimes, stress also triggers inflammation that lowers your HDL.
Q. How can I boost my HDL cholesterol naturally?
A. There are numerous natural strategies to raise your HDL cholesterol. However, the most fantastic approach is to eat right and alter your lifestyle, which may raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. For example, a Mediterranean diet is beneficial because it includes items that are good for your heart. In addition, it has a high content of lean protein, fibre, high-quality fat, and antioxidants.
Heart-healthy foods include grains, legumes, nuts, fish, olive oil, and seeds. In addition, pinto beans, rajma, soybeans, olive oil, avocado, blueberries, raspberries, wine, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.
Q. What causes low HDL?
A. People with metabolic syndrome, a group of illnesses characterised by obesity, elevated blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels, often have decreased HDL values. However, with suitable dietary adjustments and high-intensity exercise, HDL levels may improve quickly in as little as eight weeks.
Q. What is stroke level cholesterol?
A. Levels of LDL cholesterol higher than 130 mg/dL are linked to an increased risk of ischemic stroke. In addition, overeating foods with saturated and trans fats may lead to heavy deposition of these fats into the blood arteries. This deposition restricts the blood flow, which results in heart attack and stroke.
Q. When you have high cholesterol, how do you feel?
A. Typically, there are no specific symptoms associated with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a condition in which blood cholesterol levels are high enough to cause health issues like heart disease and stroke. A lipid profile or blood test is the only way to determine cholesterol levels.
Q. Can high cholesterol make you tired?
A. High cholesterol rarely makes you tired, but it can increase your risk of developing heart conditions, including coronary artery disease. However, having a statin to treat high cholesterol can make you feel tired, drowsy, or confused as a side effect. You need to consult a medical professional if you have any of these symptoms.
Q. What are three things you can eat to raise your HDL?
A. A Mediterranean diet is vital for boosting HDL cholesterol levels. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and olive oil help to raise HDL cholesterol. Consuming foods high in MUFAs and PUFAs, two beneficial fats, may help raise HDL. Furthermore, meals high in dietary fibre may help lower LDL and raise HDL. Fish, nuts, grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may be advantageous.