How to Increase HDL Cholesterol?

Parul Dube

May 8, 2023

Even the mention of “cholesterol” causes worried expressions on faces. Given the link between cholesterol and heart attacks and strokes, too much cholesterol in the blood can cause plaque to build and blood vessels to narrow, which can cause heart disease; that’s why it has earned such a poor image.

Although cholesterol is considered negative for your health, it’s not entirely harmful. However, a type of cholesterol benefits your health, and you can take advantage of that.

One of the two types of cholesterol that appear on the results of a lipid panel test that assesses your risk of cardiovascular disease is high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Low-density lipoprotein is the other (LDL).

The HDL, or “good cholesterol”, plays several critical roles in the body. Therefore, you require a sufficient level of HDL. Keep reading to learn more about HDL cholesterol and how to increase your levels for improved health.

A Brief Overview of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

The term “high-density” lipoprotein refers to the healthy cholesterol HDL, which is dense because it contains a lot of protein and little fat. Although it performs many vital tasks, its primary purpose is to act as a scavenger or cleaner in the bloodstream to remove harmful LDL cholesterol before it builds up.

Because LDL causes plaque in your blood vessels, which restricts or blocks blood flow and oxygen, the good HDL removes harmful LDL cholesterol from your blood and transports it to your liver for excretion. HDL also exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the heart.

Research shows that HDL cholesterol lowers your chance of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore, HDL is essential for preserving the body’s normal cholesterol levels. However, the equilibrium may be upset if HDL levels drop below normal.

You want to keep your HDL levels high to keep your system functioning at its best. Males should have healthy HDL cholesterol levels of at least 40 mg/dl, females should have at least 50 mg/dl, and children should have at least 45 mg/dl, according to measurements during a fast. So, a value above 60 mg/dL is high, and below 40 mg/dL is low.

A lipid panel, a blood test, can measure your cholesterol levels. With more than 25 million users, HealthifyMe is the most well-known health and wellness platform.

Over the last few months, the product has added several features to cater to various lifestyle diseases that are a byproduct of metabolic disorders and poor lifestyle choices with obvious symptomatic conditions like being overweight, underweight or obese. For example, its innovative metabolic panel testing can quickly determine cholesterol levels and other parameters.

In addition, qualified coaches can identify any underlying medical conditions you may be predisposed to and guide you in managing them. You can learn how to raise your HDL cholesterol levels with proper dietary and lifestyle modifications. 

IOS and Android users can access the HealthifyMe app, a feature-rich health and fitness tracking software. Additionally, the app generates highly customised diet and fitness plans from leading nutritionists and trainers that consider your current cholesterol level, target weight, calculated BMI, calorie limit, and dietary preferences. 

The beauty of this process is that BIOS, the CGM-based wearable device that measures your blood glucose levels on a real-time basis, sends real-time updates to the stakeholders in the health journey- the user and their coach. Therefore, every plan is unique and customised based on the user’s metabolic profile and response mechanism to food and lifestyle modifications.

For example, standardised plans based on only calorie counting and taking 10000 steps are effective and have worked historically to improve metabolic conditions.

The current enhanced product takes into consideration past learnings and marries it beautifully with technological advancement and personalised coaching based on real-time user data.

The HealthifyMe Note

You genuinely need high-density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, despite what you may have previously believed about cholesterol. Raising your HDL levels can reduce your risk of heart disease, which can increase if your levels are low. Several variables, such as physical activity and family history., influence heart health and cholesterol levels. The rate at which this happens varies from person to person, but several dietary and lifestyle adjustments might help raise your HDL levels.

Ways to Increase HDL Cholesterol

Even though some drugs can raise HDL cholesterol, studies have shown they do not always change your risk of heart disease. Therefore, one should frequently focus more on lifestyle adjustments that raise HDL levels and lower LDL.

Read more: Natural Ways to Increase Your HDL Cholesterol Levels

Additionally, to improve your overall health, these adjustments may aid in the prevention of various ailments. Here are some suggestions for how to increase your good cholesterol and maintain good heart health:

Swap Oils and Fats

Not all fats are “bad.”.Biologically, a variety of bodily processes require fat. So, opt for healthy fats like polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3 and fatty acids.

For example, mono-saturated fat in olive oil lowers the risk of cardiac issues, including stroke. In addition, olive oil contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants. 

According to a study, olive oil’s ability to raise HDL, the good cholesterol, is due to its polyphenol content, which acts as an antioxidant and protects the heart from oxidative damage. So naturally, extra virgin olive oil contains more polyphenols than treated olive oil. Various brands and varieties include different amounts of polyphenol.

Some examples are coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, mustard oil, ghee, flaxseed, chia seeds, fatty fish, and other healthy fats. One excellent example is the Mediterranean diet.


Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids and are high in fibre. Polyphenols and phytosterols are also present in them and act as antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. They lessen the heart’s oxidative damage as a result.

Nuts contain a reasonable amount of unsaturated fatty acids. These good fats may raise HDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, they might lower the body’s levels of harmful cholesterol.

According to studies, nuts like cashew nuts raise HDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, the oleic acid, phytosterols, and phenolic components in cashews strengthen blood vessels and are excellent for the heart.

The heart-healthy qualities of cashews lower blood pressure, increasing HDL and LDL cholesterol. Almonds are also a fantastic source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, MUFA, and PUFA, all of which are wonderful for your heart.

Furthermore, almonds increase HDL while lowering LDL cholesterol. Consuming nuts like walnuts, peanuts, and others may therefore be beneficial.

Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as bran, cereals, and brown or wild rice, may reduce your LDL and total cholesterol levels. A certain amount thus increases your HDL levels. It is due to the fibre that these foods contain, particularly soluble fibre, which can reduce LDL.

Consume two servings or more of whole grains every day. For example, having a hearty bowl of oats for breakfast, whole grain bread for lunch, and a side of brown rice for dinner could satisfy.

Fruit High in Fibre

Prunes, apples, and pears are fibre-rich fruits that can help lower total cholesterol levels and raise HDL levels.

They can be chopped and added to cereal, oatmeal, or combined to make a delectable smoothie. They taste just as good, whether served as an after-dinner dessert or a mid-afternoon snack.

Fatty Fish

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are examples of fatty fish high in beneficial fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish as well. Therefore, it might raise HDL levels. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Consequently, eating fatty fish at least twice a week is advised to raise cholesterol.

Stop Smoking.

Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing lung disease, cancer, and heart attack. However, did you know that smoking can also inhibit or lower healthy cholesterol levels?

Smoking can lower HDL cholesterol in various ways, including preventing HDL from being synthesised in the first place, preventing it from maturing, and accelerating its metabolism and clearance. On the other hand, one study found that quitting smoking can assist HDL cholesterol synthesis and metabolism to return to natural levels, allowing HDL to perform better.

Cut Back on Sugar

High-carb foods raise the risk of metabolic diseases by lowering HDL cholesterol levels. Examples of such foods include foods with added sugar, white bread, cookies, and cakes.

Because the fat is frequently replaced with carbs from added sugar and other starches, “low-fat” diets that contain refined carbohydrates are just as unhealthy as full-fat foods. Therefore, it’s advisable to gradually replace sugars with fruit and vegetables when attempting to reduce added sugar in your diet.

Additionally, try to stay away from trans fats, which may also lower HDL. Trans fat is in items that have been fried or made with shortening.

Keep An Eye On Your Weight.

You are more likely to have greater cholesterol levels—and not the good kind—if you are overweight. In addition, you are naturally more likely to get cardiac ailments if you are overweight or obese.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be aided by dietary adjustments and increased physical activity. In some cases, according to the study, losing any excess weight can raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Reducing body fat by even 3% causes a noticeable rise in HDL levels.


Not just for vegetarians, soy-based items are available. Including this food in your diet may significantly lower cholesterol and meat intake. When people eat less red meat, their HDL levels will rise, and their LDL levels will drop.

Edamame is a beautiful appetiser when it is steamed and unsalted. This edamame spread is a healthy alternative to dip for a party or gathering. Tofu and tempeh are examples of healthy additions to daily meals. 


Regular exercise is crucial for general health and can raise HDL levels. You can also get fit however you like. Exercise may increase HDL cholesterol levels, according to research. Additionally, it might enhance metabolic health in general.

Read more: Weight Loss Exercises – Benefits and Home Workouts

Physical activity can also help you lose weight by getting rid of extra fat. Exercises like aerobic workouts, weightlifting, and high-intensity strength training are examples that may aid in increasing HDL cholesterol. In addition, your overall health may benefit from physical activity. You can include vigorous walking and running in your regular regimen.

  • Aerobic Workout- Aerobic exercises are quite efficient to increase your heart rate and breathing. These are generally endurance exercises like brisk walking or jogging, cycling and running. Research reflecting the different effects of aerobics exercises has shown that aerobic exercise helps in the increase of HDL cholesterol in the body. It also helps in weight management and uplifting mood.
  • Weight Training- Weight training is generally practiced to increase strength and tone muscles. However, signing up for a weight training regime can be fruitful in improving plasma lipid profile. Exercises like squats, bench press, pull-ups and dips are known to increase HDL cholesterol levels.
  • High-Intensity Strength Training- These are slow paced, intense and brief exercises that provide a range of health and fitness benefits. It can be done with free weights and dumbbells at home. These exercises include burpees, plank-ups, lunges and step-ups.

HealthifyMe coaches suggest simple exercises you may do at home based on your fitness level. You can obtain individualised training routines with reasonable goals based on your inputs and preferences by subscribing to a Smart Plan. Users receive a personalised training plan and excellent advice on enhancing their performance and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The HealthifyMe Note

There are numerous natural strategies to raise HDL cholesterol levels. For instance, cholesterol levels can be affected by diet and activity. Natural ways to raise HDL cholesterol levels include eating foods like avocado, fatty salmon, oats, almonds, flax seeds, olive oil, and eggs. Exercise can also help you lose extra weight by lowering LDL levels, raising HDL levels, and raising HDL levels. Therefore, you should exercise frequently and eat these nutritious foods for the best outcomes.

The Healthy Way to Raising HDL Levels and Enhancing Overall Health

HDL cholesterol is still necessary for good health, even though high LDL cholesterol levels can be harmful. However, it is essential to remember that the ideal HDL level can vary from person to person based on age and gender, so talk with a healthcare physician before making any significant dietary changes or taking any supplements.

The most natural way to give your body extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are good for your heart is through food. However, given that dietary, environmental, and medical factors may impact HDL levels, boosting or reducing them, some foods and supplements are less healthy due to their potential interactions with drugs or prescriptions.

It’s best to check with a healthcare professional if you’re considering eating more of these foods and supplements to raise your HDL and lower your LDL values. Together you can plan attainable, constructive approaches to improve your cholesterol levels.


The healthy cholesterol that is helpful for your body is called HDL. On the other hand, the dangerous cholesterol that is hazardous for your body when it goes beyond the acceptable range is called LDL cholesterol. Certain hormones and new cells get produced with the aid of HDL cholesterol.

A balanced, nutritious food regimen is also essential. It’s simple to increase your “good” HDL cholesterol levels while lowering your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by eating these heart-healthy foods. Following the same easy dietary and lifestyle modifications mentioned above can lower your cholesterol or raise your HDL levels.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How can I raise my HDL cholesterol naturally?

A: There are numerous natural strategies to raise your HDL cholesterol. However, the most fantastic approach is to eat things and alter your lifestyle that may raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. A Mediterranean diet is beneficial because it includes items that are good for your heart. 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.

Q. What foods raise HDL the most?

A: Foods rich in MUFAs and PUFAs, two healthy fats, may help increase HDL. Raising HDL levels may also be assisted by olive oil. Additionally, dietary fibre-rich meals may help lower LDL and hence raise HDL. Therefore, consuming fish, nuts, cereals, legumes, fruits, veggies, and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial.

Q. How can I raise my HDL in 30 days?

A: Although you can follow numerous dietary recommendations and exercise regimens to lower your cholesterol and get results in as little as 30 days, the Mediterranean diet is the simplest. This diet includes many of the typical dietary recommendations you’ll come across, but it’s low in red meat and high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, fish, and olive oil.

Q. Do eggs raise HDL?

A: Eggs do indeed aid in raising HDL levels. Numerous studies indicate that eating eggs considerably increases the body’s HDL levels. They also help in lowering LDL levels.

Q. What vitamin can raise HDL?

A: The body uses niacin, a crucial B vitamin, to convert food into energy. It may do so by lowering triglycerides and increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels, or “good” cholesterol. For example, it can increase HDL cholesterol by more than 30% while lowering triglycerides by 25%. Additionally, it promotes the health of the skin, digestive, and nervous systems. Niacin is frequently included in daily multivitamins because of this, even though most individuals get enough niacin through their diet.

Q. What are the symptoms of low HDL?

A: High LDL cholesterol sufferers usually show no symptoms until they experience a heart attack or stroke. If a significant blockage exists in a coronary artery, less blood will reach the heart muscle, which could result in chest pain. In addition, confusion, sluggishness, and anxiousness are some signs of low HDL cholesterol. Even the sleeping patterns could be disturbed. Therefore, raising HDL levels is essential.

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.

Q. Does walking raise HDL?

A: Yes, walking works wonders, but so does any regular activity that raises HDL levels. For instance, a daily 30–45-minute brisk walk can help the body’s levels of healthy cholesterol rise. Body fat reduction happens through exercise. Additionally, it might aid in reducing bad cholesterol. For the best benefits, use it with a personalised diet plan low in saturated fat for better health.

Q. What foods make HDL go down?

A: You should avoid Trans fats in your diet because they can raise LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol. Trans fats are present in most fried foods, margarine, and items made with shortening, like cakes and cookies. Instead, reduce your intake of saturated fat, which is present in meats and full-fat dairy products.

Q. How long does HDL take to increase?

A: After just 3-6 months of regular exercise, your LDL level will change. HDL changes take longer to become apparent. However, with suitable dietary adjustments and high-intensity exercise, HDL levels may improve more quickly—possibly in as little as eight weeks.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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