6 foods to boost your good cholesterol (HDL) levels

6 foods to boost your good cholesterol (HDL) levels

Did you low HDL cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease? Here are some natural ways to raise your HDL

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Updated : May 25, 2014 6:19 PM IST

Foods to boost good cholesterol (HDL) levels Cholesterol is a fat/lipid that is produced in the liver and some amount of it is necessary for proper functioning of the body. If you have recently taken a lipid test to check your cholesterol levels, you must be aware about the two types of cholesterol your body produces:

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol or the 'bad cholesterol'
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol or the 'good cholesterol.'

We all know that high levels of LDL cholesterol can block the arteries and cause heart disease. What you should also know is that a desired level of HDL (above 60 mg/dL) helps your body get rid of excess bad cholesterol by transporting it from the blood vessels to the liver for excretion. Therefore, a low HDL level is a risk factor for heart disease.

As Indians, we are prone to low HDL and slightly high cholesterol levels due to our genetic makeup. So a more focused approach would be to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol through diet and lifestyle changes. Here are some foods you should have to increase your HDL levels.

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1. Nuts: Eating a handful of mixed nuts is the easiest way to manage cholesterol. A review of 25 studies on nuts including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts showed that about 67 grams of nuts per day increased HDL cholesterol and improved the HDL: LDL ratio by 8.3%.

2. Cranberries: Cranberries are delicious fruits rich in polyphenolic compounds. It has been found that low-calorie cranberry juice has a positive effect on circulating HDL-cholesterol concentrations. A study by Ruel G and colleagues observed that men who had increasing dose of cranberry juice showed significant increase in their plasma HDL-cholesterol level.

3. Oats: Oats might not be your first choice for breakfast but if your cholesterol level is high you can surely benefit from them. Oats are a rich source of fibre that contains beta glucans. Beta glucans interfere with the absorption of bad cholesterol and boost good HDL cholesterol levels. Here are 5 reasons to start eating oats today

4. Garlic: Packed with sulphur-containing antioxidants, garlic plays a crucial role in regulating cholesterol levels. A study conducted by the Bastyr College in Seattle, Washington showed that participants having three fresh cloves of garlic everyday had boosted their good cholesterol (HDL) by 23 per cent in one month. Here's are 15 health benefits of garlic you should know.

5. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolates contain polyphenols that prevent oxidation of cholesterol and improves lipid profile in individuals with high cholesterol. In a study conducted by Mursu J and colleagues, participants who had dark chocolate had increased HDL levels by 13.7 %.

6. Wine: While alcohol is a slow poison that can kill you have it in excess quantity, moderate alcohol consumption is proven to be beneficial. Patients with high cholesterol levels, who consumed about 250ml red wine every night for 15 nights, showed significant increase in HDL cholesterol level. Here are 7 more reasons to drink wine

Although these foods can naturally boost your good cholesterol level, you cannot rely on them completely to control your total cholesterol. Remember, regular exercise is a key component of lifestyle modification when it comes to controlling risk factors for chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Regular physical activity is equally important if you want to get your cholesterol under control. In fact, moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise can boost your HDL level by 5% to 10%.


  • Ruel G et al. Favourable impact of low-calorie cranberry juice consumption on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in men.
  • Mursu J et al. Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy humans.
  • Reyna-Villasmil N et al. Oat-derived beta-glucan significantly improves HDLC and diminishes LDLC and non-HDL cholesterol in overweight individuals with mild hypercholesterolemia.

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