Sources of Good Cholesterols – A Guide

Zoomi Singh

April 15, 2024

HDL, which extends into High-density Lipoprotein, has a significant function in transporting bad cholesterol to our liver. Subsequently, it helps the liver eliminate that bad cholesterol from our body. Therefore, it has got its name ‘the good cholesterol. 

HDL is one of the types of a group of lipoproteins, LDL, IDL, HDL, VLDL, and Chylomicrons. As for its shape, this one is in the form of a discoid or quasi-spherical.

Apart from that, HDL has a leading role in carrying the absorbed or excess bad cholesterol in our body to our liver. So taking cholesterol to the liver and removing it makes it the best friend of our heart.

LDLs, which are another type of lipoproteins, can be the reason for blockage in the artery lumen and also lead to atherosclerosis. However, one must note that this type of lipoprotein is highly constitutive to our body’s survival as it carries essential lipids for us to live. But when it is in higher quantities exceeding the range of HDLs can lead to the hardening of the walls of our arteries. Regardless, let us know the sources of good cholesterol, i.e., HDL, that doesn’t bring a threat to our body.


As per this study, LDL can be bad cholesterol at high levels. The reason behind that is most of our body’s cholesterol is in the form of LDLs only. However, as said previously, it is one among the other groups of lipoprotein. Also, lipoprotein has five major groups: HDL, LDL, IDL, VLDL, and Chylomicrons. 

What exactly are those? HDL means High-density Lipoprotein, a source of good cholesterol that absorbs excess cholesterol in the blood and carries that to our liver.

Read more: HDL Cholesterol – Boost Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels

Whereas LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein), the bad type, manoeuvres the cholesterol to our arteries and can sometimes lead to atherosclerosis, where it oxides within the walls of arteries leading to the blockage of circulation. 

Read more: LDL Cholesterol – What It Is & How to Lower It

Here comes the IDL. Intermediate-density Lipoprotein usually makes the fat and cholesterol reach our liver and other significant parts through water-based solutions as the means of transportation. However, this type too can be dangerous as its former type due to its nature of enabling atheroma, a significant heart disease. 

In comparison, VLDL is a Very Low-density Lipoprotein that the liver makes to transport triglycerides in our body to give the energy needed between meals. A higher presence of this type, too, results in strokes and pancreatitis. 

Read more: How to Reduce VLDL Cholesterol the Healthy Way?

Lastly, there come Chylomicrons (Ultra Low-density Lipoprotein), primarily consisting of triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids and proteins. 

After going through all that information, we can understand that, except the HDLs, all other lipoproteins get made after we eat. So, the cholesterol and fats in our foods get stored in our body via these lipids, which carry them to our adrenals and adipose tissues. Later, that stored cholesterol gets into action between our meal gaps.

But, if there are no meal gaps or uncontrolled food intake, these cholesterol levels will rise, leading to low-density cholesterol carrying more saturated fats to our body, blocking the arteries.

Blockage in the arteries and atherosclerosis mean major heart diseases, which can be fatal. Thus, consuming only rich sources of good cholesterol like HDL is essential, which does not cause blockage issues.

Sources of Good Cholesterol 

Good cholesterol is usually HDLs. That means the high-density lipoproteins give our body the good cholesterol it needs. Typically, it works in such a way that it consumes the extra or excess cholesterol, meaning it burns up that build-up plaque in our arteries, thereby reducing the chances of blockages or strokes. Thus, every nutritionist recommends increasing the quantities of HDLs in our bodies. 

You do not want to increase the quantities of LDLs in your body as too much of it can only lead to a bottleneck in arteries as it oxidises into their inner walls. Also, According to this study, good cholesterol should be in more, if not enough, quantities. 

For more details, look at the below table:

Good Cholesterol Level(HDL)

  • High: >60 mg/dL
  • Acceptable: 60 mg/dL
  • Low: < 40 mg/dL

Ways to Raise HDL Cholesterol

So, how to increase the presence of HDLs, in other words, good cholesterol, in our bodies? Well, here we go:

Healthy Diet

The primary reason for excess cholesterol is food. However, if you already have bad cholesterol accumulated in your body, it does not require new such cholesterol.

Read more: Cholesterol Diet Plan – Types, Symptoms and Foods to Eat

And besides, as per this study, our body can make the cholesterol it needs without our intervention. Therefore, bad cholesterol can mean that it will stay in our arteries or other tissues, clogging the flow of blood or plasma.

So, you must avoid the consumption of bad or saturated fats. To do so, one can happily consume protein-rich, fibre-abundant foods with unsaturated fats to promote good cholesterol. Such foods will be easily digested and have fewer chances of hardening the arteries, aka atherosclerosis. 

Weight Management

When do we become overweight? Well, when we have too much fat, that needs burning. Although HDLs primary role is to burn down that fat by vacuum-cleaning the excess cholesterol in it, it can only do so much without our support.

Good cholesterol can only be enhanced when we have limited fats. More weight means an enhanced need for good cholesterol; at some point, that won’t be in the desired amounts or work as correctly as it should. According to this study, it produces too many triglycerides, which lower the level of HDLs. 

It leads to some unfavourable situations. Therefore, we must do our part by keeping our weight in check, thereby regulating the levels of triglycerides and fatty substances. Control over our diet, workouts, etc., can become a good source of good cholesterol.

Physical Activity

Remember that regular physical exercise contributes to our body’s overall wellness. From limiting the chances of chronic illnesses to aiding our body with fast recovery, exercises and workouts help our health in many ways. And this activity plays a huge role in promoting the presence of good cholesterol in our bodies. 

As per a Harvard finding, it is necessary to do at least an hour of physical activity per day to keep our body weight under check. The bottom line is that regular physical activities will lower the chances of LDLs and spike up HDL levels of HDLs.  

No Smoking and Drinking

Inculcating bad habits like smoking or drinking shows adverse effects on our health. For example, when a person smokes cigarettes or gets exposed to that smoke, which is in popular terms known as secondhand smoke is more at risk of developing increased LDLs. Besides, it is essential to note that anything that increases LDLs, directly decreases HDLs and vice versa.

Smoking increases the chances of bad cholesterol, and you can kiss goodbye to your good cholesterol. In comparison, drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain and, in some cases, obesity.

This study says that alcohol is a good source of calories in large quantities, thus making our body gain a lot of weight. Now, too much weight, as said already, can reduce the levels of good cholesterol and increase the bad ones.

Manage Stress

Stress, the culprit behind every disorder in our body, also has a significant role in promoting LDLs, the bad cholesterol. But on the other hand, it is one of the good sources of LDL cholesterol. To explain further, stress, especially the long-term one, which releases cortisol at high levels, has a strong connection with the lipoproteins of our body. 

Such a phenomenon can lead to increasing the LDLs and thereby lowering the levels of HDLs. Furthermore, as per this study, increased stress releases adrenaline too.

And when there is too much adrenaline, triglycerides increase, meaning a decrease in good cholesterol levels. Thus, maintain a stress-free lifestyle to promote good cholesterol in your body.

The HealthifyMe Take  

Our body knows how to keep it safe and sound all the time. And to make it happen as smoothly, we must take help. That help comes in the form of lifestyle management. Similarly, the human body knows how to make cholesterol from our food. The digestive system, which digests the ingested food and separates the nutrients, assigns those to various parts of our body. 

To keep our body active by giving the energy it needs, our body stores the fats, i.e., cholesterol, in certain parts by transporting them with the help of lipoproteins.

Now that is a good thing because the stored cholesterol is bound to be used in a shorter time to keep us active. However, when cholesterol accumulates in our arteries more it limits blood circulation and leads to heart diseases. Well, that is where the HDLs come into the limelight. Therefore, we must enhance the presence of this particular lipoprotein type as it cleans such accumulated cholesterol in the blood and takes it back to our liver. Here, our liver flushes the bad cholesterol out of our bodies. 

So, one must maintain a proper and active lifestyle to develop more HDLs by limiting the LDLs. With HealthifyMe 2.0 pro, you can lead a healthy lifestyle by consuming foods rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats.

Talk with your Nutritionist and Manage Cholesterol like a Pro

To lead a life where your body has a good percentage of HDLs by keeping LDLs in check, here are the food sources of good cholesterol that you have to include in your diet:


The following list of veggies are low in calories and rich in fibre:

  • Okra
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Red Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Pepper
  • Radish


Fruits, as enlisted below, stay on the side of soluble fibre, which doesn’t promote LDLs in large quantities:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries


Meat foods in the below list are lower in saturated fats, raising the levels of HDLs:

  • Skinless Chicken
  • Skinless Turkey
  • Lean Cuts or Tenderloin parts of Meat

Dairy and Seafood

Foods that are low in fats, like saturated fats as below, will lower the levels of LDLs in you:

  • Skim Milk
  • Plain Nonfat or Plain Nonfat Greek Yoghurt
  • Nonfat Cottage Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Herring


Nuts of the below kind are suitable for the heart subduing the effect of LDLs in atherosclerosis:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia Nuts

Whole Cereal Grains

Cereal grains like the following have a good amount of fibre, making the HDLs rise in their levels:

  • Whole Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice

Seeds and Oils

These seeds, as below, are anti-inflammatory, fibre rich and are excellent sources of fats for promoting heart thereby the good cholesterol:

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Canola Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Corn Oil


Anything that has cocoa in moderation is good because it consists of flavonoids which lead to the production of limited triglycerides and adrenaline, thereby becoming the best source of good cholesterol:

  • Dark Chocolate


The below list of beans and legumes are protein-rich and low in saturated fats:

  • Black Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Soy Beans
  • Red Lentils

The HealthifyMe Note

A moderately healthy person requires three main meals and two snacks. Keep the portion of your mains controlled. Take a mid-sized plate and fill up 50% of it with salads and the remaining with carbs and lean protein. Use healthy fats like coconut oil or ghee to cook your meals. For snacks, choose fruits ( 1-2 whole fruit like apples, oranges, or pears), seeds, and nuts- 5 to 6 almonds and walnuts, 1 Brazil nut, and half a spoonful of flaxseed or sunflower seeds. 

Follow this construct. Keep changing fruits and nuts periodically. You can alter the source of complex carbs and proteins too. That way, you will have a variety of foods and not get bored with your plan. 


Cholesterol is necessary for our body to live and gives us the support or energy needed to do our daily activities. However, only good cholesterol is to be tolerated and encouraged.

Because the excess cholesterol, aka LDLs, accumulates in the arteries, one must take measures to lower its levels. And HDLs, which work contrary to LDLs, regulate the cholesterol levels in our body. Thus, one must always promote good cholesterol in their body. And 

HealthifyPro 2.0 can make it a piece of cake for you to beat the bad cholesterol in you and increase the good cholesterol. It assesses every morsel that you eat through a CGM-BIOS.

If any food causes any spike in blood glucose levels, you and the nutritionists get alerted. As a result, you are constantly correcting the food mistakes you make. With such deep intervention, keeping your cholesterol levels in check becomes a natural extension of your way of life.

About the Author

Zoomi, holds Masters degree in Nutritional Sciences from University of Allahabad, qualified CBSE-UGC-NET in Home Science and pursuing PhD in Nutritional Sciences, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. A Strong research professional focused in Nutritional Sciences where she have more than 8 yrs of work experience in the field of Nutrition and Research, had work experience as a Dietician at Super-specialty hospitals. Skilled in Weight Management, Hypertension, Diabetes and Micronutrient related deficiencies. Additionally, she is well-versed in biostatistics and proficient in statistical tools such as SPSS and STATA. She is endowed with strong writing abilities and has authored her own book, more than six research papers, and six book chapters. Holder of various awards like Excellent Dietician, 2019 and 2020 by Saksham Society, Jaipur, Rajasthan, Academic Excellence at National Conference by Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University, Jaipur (Rajasthan), India and Research Achievement Award-2020 for Research & Innovation by ACAIRS Global Network Pvt. Ltd. Life Member of Nutrition Society of India, NIN, Hyderabad and participated and presented papers in four International and six National conferences. Zoomi believes the right habits play the most crucial role in one’s health and wellness journey. The key to fit body is a fit mind and mental state.

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