Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body needs to function normally. Interestingly, despite the fear associated with it, every animal cell makes cholesterol. It is a crystalline solid that is yellow when isolated chemically.
Cholesterol is a precursor in the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D. Proteins in your blood transport cholesterol, and combining the two results in lipoproteins.
Most lipoproteins come in two varieties, HDL and LDL. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, transports cholesterol from the cells back to the liver. After that, it either disintegrates or gets expelled from the body as waste.
Higher levels of HDL, or “good cholesterol,” are good for the system. Low-density lipoprotein carries cholesterol to the cells that need it. If there is more cholesterol than the cells can use, it can build up in the arterial walls and lead to artery disease. Because of this, LDL gets regarded as “bad cholesterol”. The amount of HDL and LDL cholesterol in the blood can get reliably determined by a blood test.
A lipid profile test measures the number of lipids in your blood. Triglycerides and cholesterol are both types of lipids that make up fat. Your risk for heart disease gets determined by the test results. Knowing your cholesterol level can keep you healthy.
The HealthifyMe app is a complete health and fitness tracker with cutting-edge technology that monitors weight, water intake, exercise, and food intake.
Features like Continuous Glucose Monitoring are part of the HealthifyPro 2.0 version with a comprehensive plan for a healthy metabolism. In addition, getting real-time coaching advice from experts is useful. These qualities can assist you in maintaining appropriate cholesterol levels and helping to improve your metabolic health.
What is HDL Cholesterol?
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is one of the five major subgroups of lipoproteins. HDL particles enlarge as they travel through the bloodstream by aggregating more fat molecules and carrying hundreds of them per particle. In contrast to bigger lipoprotein particles that supply fat molecules to cells, HDL removes fat molecules. Among the lipids carried are triglycerides, phospholipids, and cholesterol; the amounts of each differ.
Read more: What is HDL Cholesterol? A Detailed Guide
An increase in HDL particle levels is associated with a decrease in the formation of atherosclerosis in artery walls, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other vascular illnesses.
HDL particles are referred to as “good cholesterol” because they can remove fat molecules from artery walls, reduce macrophage accumulation, and aid in atherosclerosis prevention or regression.
Cholesterol Levels Chart
The chart below, published by the National Institutes of Health, indicates healthy cholesterol levels with age.
|Cholesterol Levels by Age/Sex|
|Total Cholesterol (TC)|
|Normal||Less than 170 mg/dL||Less than 120 mg/dL||Less than 110 mg/dL|
More than 45 mg/dL
|Borderline||170-199 mg/dL||120-144 mg/dL||111-129 mg/dL|
|Greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL||More than 145 mg/dL||Greater than or equal to 130 mg/dL|
20 and above (Male)
|Normal||125-200 mg/dL||Less than 130 mg/dL||Less than 100 mg/dL|
More than 40 mg/dL
|High||Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL||Greater than or equal to 130 mg/dL||160-189 mg/dL|
20 and above (Female)
|Normal||125-200 mg/dL||Less than 130 mg/dL||Less than 100 mg/dL|
More than 50 mg/dL
|Greater than or equal to 239 mg/dL||Greater than or equal to 130 mg/dL||160-189 mg/dL|
HDL Cholesterol Levels
LDL cholesterol is removed from the arteries by HDL and returned to the liver for elimination. Therefore, a healthy amount of HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” helps guard against heart attack and stroke.
|Males 19 and younger||Optimal||More than 45 mg/dL|
|Males 20 and older||Optimal||More than 40 mg/dL|
|Females 19 and younger||Optimal||More than 45 mg/dL|
|Females 20 and older||Optimal||More than 50 mg/dL|
Your cholesterol levels get found through a blood test known as a lipid panel. It would be beneficial to take this test sometimes or as needed based on age, gender, risk factors, and family history.
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 (based on milligrams per deciliter measurements taken during a fast). High values are those above 60 mg/dL, and low values are those below 40 mg/dL.
Foods that Increase HDL Cholesterol
Here are some recommendations for controlling and avoiding high cholesterol from HealthifyMe specialists.
Nuts and Seeds
Numerous studies have found that nuts (such as pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and brazil nuts) can increase high-density lipoprotein levels. Methi or fenugreek seeds help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Sesame seed supplementation improved the triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels and the antioxidant status in patients with hyperlipidemia. Chia, flax, chia, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds raise HDL cholesterol levels.
According to research, allicin, a bioactive compound in garlic, lowers triglycerides and prevents the plague’s spread. Consequently, incorporating it into your everyday diet will reduce dangerous cholesterol levels.
Berries are among the foods with the highest fibre content. Increasing fibre intake is an excellent method to decrease cholesterol. Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, and raspberries, help regulate LDL cholesterol since they contain many antioxidants.
High-density lipoproteins increase by eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for preserving healthy cholesterol levels and are abundant in them.
Consume Healthy Fats
Oils and fats, including ghee, mustard, coconut, peanut, sesame, and sesame, can boost HDL cholesterol. In addition, these fats enhance lipid profiles and support a healthy heart because they include a lot of monosaturated Omega-3.
Monounsaturated fatty acids and folate are both found in avocados. This kind of healthy fat helps sustain HDL levels and substantially lowers the risk of heart disease. So adding an avocado daily to a heart-healthy diet will help those overweight or obese raise their HDL cholesterol levels.
Resveratrol and proanthocyanidins are potent antioxidants found in wine, particularly red wine. By raising HDL cholesterol levels, these substances lower your risk of developing heart disease. Also, studies show that consuming red wine in moderation has beneficial effects (150 ml for women and 300 ml for men).
A glass of red wine with a 12–15% alcohol level can help avoid several illnesses. However, one needs to consume it occasionally and follow a healthy lifestyle.
Consuming fibre-rich foods can help reduce bad cholesterol. Fruits, including grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and gooseberries that, are high in pectin, a soluble fibre help decrease cholesterol. High-fibre foods, including oats, barley, wheat, ragi, Daliya, and others, also raise HDL or good cholesterol levels.
Beans and Legumes (Dal)
To raise HDL cholesterol, consume more chickpeas, rajma, pinto beans, soybeans, masoor dal, Arhar dal, moong dal, and chana dal.
The HealthifyMe Note
High cholesterol levels may be in your blood for a very long time without you knowing it. The presence of high cholesterol is symptomless. Only a blood test will provide the answer. Lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and consuming fewer trans and saturated fats can reduce cholesterol levels. Some people need to take medicine and make lifestyle changes—a thoughtful plan developed by the HealthifyMe dietitians to assist in lowering cholesterol levels. The simplest way to improve overall health and fitness is to subscribe and join the HealthifyMe team.
Managing Cholesterol the HealthifyMe Way
A healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet, frequent exercise, quitting smoking, moderate alcohol use, and weight management, is the primary goal of treating high cholesterol.
In hereditary cases, an oral medication regimen combined with a healthy lifestyle can help manage the illness. The initial course of treatment for boosting HDL cholesterol levels also involves changing your diet and engaging in regular exercise.
Asia’s biggest platform for health and fitness is HealthifyMe. Concerning your cholesterol level and other health issues, it provides several services that can assist you in understanding the available dietary options.
These services feature customised trainers, diet plans, and easy-to-sync food and activity trackers for your phone and other fitness equipment.
The app also offers equipment-free at-home training videos for men and women, making it easier to get in shape and lose weight. It also curates highly individualised diet programmes from renowned nutritionists that consider your current cholesterol level, target weight, predicted BMI, calorie limit, and dietary preferences. It also tracks the calories in more than 100,000 Indian dishes.
You may be looking for an advanced tech solution that gives real-time personalised guidance. In that case, HealthifyPro is the pro solution for your cholesterol levels.
Healthcare specialists generally advise having higher HDL and lower LDL cholesterol levels to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your doctor can also recommend taking medication to decrease your cholesterol if your HDL and LDL levels are excessively high. However, make lifestyle modifications even if you take medication to lower your cholesterol.
For example, you should check your cholesterol levels every few years if you are above 40. Also, monitoring your cholesterol levels is crucial, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
Based on your LDL cholesterol and other metabolic markers, the HealthifyMe app can help you better comprehend the food options available. By making little modifications and monitoring your nutrition and activity, HealthifyMe also enables you to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What foods have the most “good” cholesterol?
A. Pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, chia, flax, fenugreek, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are a few of the nuts and seeds that increase HDL cholesterol levels. 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. Are eggs good for cholesterol?
A. Eggs contain a lot of cholesterol. However, unlike other foods, such as those heavy in trans fats and saturated fats, eggs don’t appear to boost cholesterol levels. In addition, the cholesterol in eggs does not significantly affect blood cholesterol; therefore, it should generally be okay for most people. However, limit your egg yolk intake if your cholesterol levels are too high.
Q. What are the worst foods for high cholesterol?
A. The worst foods for cholesterol are those heavy in trans and saturated fat. In addition, deep-fried, processed, ready-to-eat, and fast foods raise LDL cholesterol levels. These foods contribute to artery plaque formation, heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular disorders.
Q. Is peanut butter good for cholesterol?
A. Your cholesterol levels won’t be affected by peanut butter. Peanut butter has a lot of unsaturated fats, which may lower a person’s LDL cholesterol levels. Low LDL levels are associated with a low risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Q. Are bananas good for cholesterol?
A. Bananas’ fibre and potassium content help to lower cholesterol levels. In particular, bananas are renowned for being a good source of soluble fibre, which helps maintain a healthy body and immune system.
Q. What fruits can I eat if I have high cholesterol?
A. Fibre-rich fruits are beneficial for lowering high cholesterol levels. Pears and apples are rich in pectin, a fibre that can lower cholesterol. Lemons and oranges also dramatically reduce LDL cholesterol. Berries have been shown in numerous studies to have the ability to increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.
Q. What vegetables are good for cholesterol?
A. Green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants and fibre, which support heart health. HDL cholesterol levels increase, and LDL cholesterol decreases by eating vegetables like spinach, kale, okra, eggplant, carrots, etc.
Q. Do potatoes reduce cholesterol?
A. Potatoes provide fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The soluble fibre in potatoes can help you lower your cholesterol. The body gains various health advantages from eating potatoes and maintaining cholesterol levels.