Natural Ways to Increase Your HDL Cholesterol Levels

Sarah Gaur

December 2, 2022

Our body needs biomolecules like proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids. They are crucial for maintaining the metabolic processes in the body. Good cholesterol or HDL has several vital roles in the body. First, HDL helps the liver get rid of excess cholesterol from the body. It prevents bad cholesterol from getting stored. Low levels of HDL may hinder the excretion of excess cholesterol. Therefore, we need reasonable amounts of HDL. 

What is HDL Cholesterol?

HDL or high-density lipoprotein is also known as good cholesterol. It has several essential functions. Its primary function is to carry excess cholesterol from the tissues to the liver. The liver then gets rid of it. Thereby, HDL is crucial in maintaining normal cholesterol levels in the body. When HDL levels fall below average, it may interrupt the balance. Additionally, HDL also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the heart.

Studies show that low HDL levels are associated with an increased risk of heart diseases. The excess cholesterol in our body deposits on the walls of the arteries. Thereby, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. As a result, it may raise blood pressure. Following a heart-healthy diet may help in increasing HDL levels.

Types of Fatty Acids

There are two types of fatty acids.

Saturated Fatty Acids

These fatty acids are primarily associated with harmful health outcomes. Saturated fatty acids increase the levels of LDL. The function of LDL is to carry cholesterol. It transports cholesterol to several tissues. However, if LDL levels rise above the normal range, they may be harmful. For example, they may increase the risk of heart diseases. 

Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Unsaturated fatty acids have some beneficial roles. For example, they increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. HDL carries the cholesterol from the body back to the liver. The liver then flushes it out of the body. As a result, it reduces the risk of heart diseases like high blood pressure and stroke.

Natural Ways to Increase Your HDL

Many people rely on medicines for managing their cholesterol. Unfortunately, these medicines may have some side effects. However, you can also manage your cholesterol levels by making simple changes in your lifestyle and dietary habits. 

Mediterranean Diet

Our diet can influence a lot of factors, including our cholesterol levels. However, many foods can naturally increase your HDL cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet may be beneficial in improving HDL levels. It consists of heart-healthy foods full of fibre, antioxidants and protein. 

1. Nuts

Nuts are high in fibre and a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. Additionally, they contain phytosterols and polyphenols. These are antioxidant compounds. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thereby, they reduce oxidative damage to the heart. 

Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. We know that these healthy fats may improve HDL levels. Research has found that nuts may improve HDL levels. Additionally, they may reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, consuming walnuts, peanuts and cashews may be beneficial.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a crucial element in the Mediterranean diet. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are beneficial in improving HDL levels. They also contribute to reducing LDL. Thereby, they prevent the deposition of fats in the arteries. Ultimately, they reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and stroke.

Studies suggest that olive oil is rich in polyphenols. They act as antioxidants and protect the heart from free radical damage. In addition, they are also anti-inflammatory. Therefore, including olive oil in your daily diet may be beneficial. However, it is essential not to go overboard. 

3. Garlic

Garlic is known for its health benefits. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anticancer properties. In addition, it contains several antioxidant compounds, such as allicin and alliin. Studies have demonstrated that these may reduce inflammation. Garlic may also improve HDL.

Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are full of dietary fibre. Studies have shown that fibre may reduce bad cholesterol levels. Fibre absorbs cholesterol, which prevents it from being absorbed by the liver. Fibre is known for its laxative properties. Thereby, it carries the cholesterol out of the body. As a result, it reduces the overall risk of high cholesterol and heart diseases. 

Including reasonable amounts of fibre may also help in maintaining a healthy weight.

4. Legumes

Legumes such as green peas, chickpeas and lentils have a rich nutrient profile. They are high in protein, fibre, B complex vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. Additionally, they have a low glycemic index. Polyphenols act as antioxidants and protect the heart from oxidative stress. The high fibre content helps in reducing bad cholesterol levels. They also contain minerals such as potassium. It helps in the proper pumping of blood. Studies suggest that legumes may reduce the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

5. Whole Grains

Whole grains are full of nutrients. They contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they contain antioxidant compounds like phytosterols and phytochemicals. Research suggests that they may have cardio-protective properties. They may improve HDL and reduce inflammation. In addition, they also help in lowering bad cholesterol. Therefore, they may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

6. Red Wine 

Red wine contains resveratrol. It is a type of polyphenol. A study suggests that resveratrol may reduce LDL cholesterol. Also, red wine is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. All of these properties help raise HDL cholesterol levels. However, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional before consuming wine. 

7. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna contain a high quantity of healthy fats. Additionally, fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Thus it may improve HDL levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory. Therefore, eating fatty fish 2-3 times a week to enhance cholesterol is recommended.

Other Foods

1. Eggs

It is a common belief that eggs may increase bad cholesterol. However, several studies suggest that eggs significantly increase HDL levels in the body. In addition, they also help reduce LDL levels. 

2. Avocados

Avocados contain healthy fats called monounsaturated fats. When consumed, they help in improving HDL cholesterol levels. Moreover, avocados also contain soluble fibres. All these attributes help reduce unhealthy cholesterol.

3. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain linolenic acid, which is a healthy fat. Therefore, it helps increase the levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. In addition, linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase the level of HDL cholesterol in the body. It also helps reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol.

4. Oats

Oatmeal is a rich source of soluble fibres like beta-glucans. Therefore, oatmeal may be effective in decreasing LDL cholesterol.

5. Banana

Bananas are a great source of dietary fibres. Dietary fibres can help reduce unhealthy cholesterol in the body by interfering with LDL absorption. The fibres absorb the cholesterol and prevent them from entering the bloodstream.


Any form of exercise and physical activity may be beneficial. For example, high-intensity exercise can benefit overall health. In addition, regular exercise may increase HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol. A study demonstrated that exercise might improve the levels of HDL cholesterol. In addition, it may improve overall metabolic health. 

Additionally, physical exercises can also reduce body weight by eliminating excessive fat. Aerobic workouts, weightlifting, and high-intensity strength training are some of the exercises that might help you raise HDL cholesterol. Being physically active may benefit your overall health. You may also incorporate running and brisk walking into your daily routine.

Avoid Smoking

Cigarettes contain many harmful compounds. These may result in several diseases. Some of these include heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. In addition, smoking may lower HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, quitting smoking is essential in the prevention of heart disease. According to one study, quitting smoking can enhance HDL cholesterol synthesis. 


HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol that is beneficial for your body. The bad cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol, can be harmful to the body. HDL cholesterol helps produce certain hormones and new cells. There are many ways to increase HDL cholesterol levels naturally. For example, diet and exercise can influence cholesterol. 

Foods like avocado, fatty fish, oatmeal, nuts, flax seeds, olive oil, and eggs can naturally increase HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, exercise can help increase HDL levels, reduce LDL levels, and help you lose excess weight. Therefore, you should exercise regularly and consume these healthy foods for the best results. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the symptoms of low HDL cholesterol?

A. Some symptoms of low HDL cholesterol are confusion, lethargy, nervousness. It may even disturb the sleeping patterns. It may ultimately result in coronary artery disease and stroke. Therefore, it is crucial to improve HDL levels.  

Q. How can I increase my HDL naturally?

A. There are several ways to increase your HDL cholesterol naturally. However, the best way is to consume foods that may help raise HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol. A Mediterranean diet is helpful as it consists of heart-healthy foods. These are high-fibre, low-fat and rich in antioxidants. Nuts, seeds, grains and legumes are a few heart-healthy foods. 

Q. How can I increase my HDL in 1 month?

A. It is essential to have a heart-healthy diet, and regular exercise increases HDL cholesterol levels. Consuming foods that are low in saturated fats may help. For example, the Mediterranean diet includes high-fibre, low-fat foods. Pairing a diet with regular exercise may increase HDL levels. Additionally, quitting smoking may increase HDL production in the body. 

Q. Does walking raise HDL?

A. Yes, any regular exercise can help increase HDL levels. For example, a 30-45 min brisk walk every day can help increase good cholesterol levels in the body. Physical activity may help in reducing body fat. Additionally, it may contribute to lowering unhealthy cholesterol. Pair it with a heart-healthy diet for better results. 

Q. What foods make HDL go up?

A. Foods containing good fats like MUFAs and PUFAs may help raise HDL. In addition, foods rich in dietary fibre may help lower LDL and thus, raise HDL. Therefore, eating nuts, grains, legumes, and vegetables may help. Olive oil may also help in raising HDL levels. 

Q. Do almonds raise HDL?

A. Yes, almonds raise HDL cholesterol levels because they contain mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs). These are healthy fats that can increase HDL cholesterol levels.  

Q. Does garlic raise HDL?

A. Yes, garlic can raise HDL cholesterol in the blood. That is because garlic contains organosulfur compounds like allicin. They are also a good source of antioxidants. These plant compounds help in reducing LDL. They also raise HDL levels. Additionally, they protect the heart from oxidative damage. 

Q. Are cashews good for HDL?

A. Yes, consuming cashews are an excellent way to increase HDL cholesterol levels in the body. That is because cashews contain a high amount of MUFAs and PUFAs, which can increase HDL levels.  

Q. Do eggs increase HDL?

A. Yes, eggs help increase HDL cholesterol. Several studies and scientific research has proven that eggs help increase HDL in the body. 

Q. What vitamin is good for cholesterol?

A. Vitamin B3 is good for increasing HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Some foods that contain vitamin B3 include salmon, tuna, avocado, mushrooms, peanuts, peas and potatoes.  

Q. Do nuts increase HDL cholesterol?

A. Yes, nuts like almonds and cashews can increase the HDL cholesterol level because they contain healthy fats like MUFAs and PUFAs. These fats help reduce unhealthy cholesterol and increase healthy cholesterol.

Q. Which fruit is good to increase HDL?

A. Banana is an excellent fruit that helps increase HDL cholesterol. In addition, banana contains a high amount of soluble fibre, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol. As a result, they help in maintaining HDL cholesterol levels as well. 

Q. Does Omega-3 increase HDL?

A. Yes, omega-3 fatty acids help increase HDL cholesterol in the body. Additionally, it also helps reduce the levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. 

Q. Is Avocado Good for HDL?

A. Yes, consuming avocadoes are an excellent way to increase HDL cholesterol. Avocados are a rich source of healthy fats called monounsaturated fats. They help in maintaining and improving cholesterol levels in the body. While simultaneously, they reduce the number of unhealthy fats.  

Q. Is coffee bad for cholesterol?

A. The diterpenes (chemical compounds) in coffee suppress the body’s production of substances involved in cholesterol breakdown, which causes cholesterol to increase. Specifically, coffee diterpenes may cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL levels 

Q. Does flaxseed increase HDL?

A. Yes, flaxseeds help increase HDL cholesterol. It is due to linolenic acid. In addition, flaxseeds are high in soluble fibre, which helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body.  

Q. Are bananas good for cholesterol?

A. Yes, bananas are good for cholesterol. They reduce the absorption of unhealthy cholesterol in the body. They also help in eliminating them from the body.  

Q. Does oatmeal help cholesterol?

A. Yes, oatmeal is a good source of dietary fibre, and it increases good cholesterol in the body. That is because the soluble fibres bind to unhealthy cholesterol molecules. Then they help in eliminating this cholesterol from the body.

About the Author

A nutritionist by profession and a writer by passion, Sarah holds an MSc. in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics from Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune. She believes in changing lives, one meal at a time with a holistic approach towards overall healing. Her mission is to modify the nutritional habits and behaviors of our next generation to optimize their long-term health and reduce the likelihood of metabolic diseases. Apart from working, she loves to sing, swirl scribble and spread smiles.

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