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What is HDL Cholesterol?

  • Posted on- Dec 16, 2015
  • 412 Views

HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. It is one of a group of substances called lipoproteins that your body creates to help it transport fats around the body. HDL cholesterol is often also known as “good cholesterol”, as it’s able to remove and carry away cholesterol from the arteries, returning them to your liver to be eliminated. This lipoprotein gets rid of the cholesterol that gets accumulated in the blood vessels thus reducing the risk of any heart disease. Furthermore, HDL cholesterol may be helpful in other ways as well, such as:

  • HDL cholesterol removes bad cholesterol (LDL) from the body.
  • HDL cholesterol recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver, where it can be reprocessed.
  • HDL cholesterol looks after the inner walls of the blood vessels. Damage to the inner walls is the first thing before a heart attack or stroke. HDL keeps them clean and healthy.

What are normal levels of HDL cholesterol?

On an average, 40 to 50 milligrams per decilitre of blood (mg/dL) is the HDL cholesterol level that is found in men. In women, the range is 50 to 60 milligrams per decilitre of blood (mg/dL).

Men are considered susceptible to heart diseases if their HDL cholesterol levels fall below 40 mg/dL. For women, lower than 50 mg/dL is considered a risk factor of heart problems. In short, the higher the levels of HDL cholesterol, the lower the risk.

What triggers low HDL levels?


What to do when HDL levels are low?

If you are trying to increase the level of HDL quickly, you can talk to your doctor regarding the use of medications. The medications that are used for increasing the level of HDL have not been found to be very effective, as compared to the medications that are used for lowering the level of LDL cholesterol. Nevertheless, some of the most commonly used medications for this purpose are statins and niacin (nicotinic acid). A combination of niacin, gemfibrozil and cholestyramine can also increase the level of HDL, but can cause some side effects.

Lab tests to check HDL levels

The test for high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is used along with other lipid tests to screen for unhealthy levels of lipids and to determine the risk of developing heart disease.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol testing may be ordered as a follow-up test to a high result on a cholesterol screening test. HDL-C is usually not ordered by itself but with other tests, including cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides as part of a lipid profile during a health check-up.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol testing, as part of the lipid profile, may be ordered more frequently for those who have one or more risk factors for heart disease.

How to boost HDL levels?

  • Indulging in regular aerobic exercise
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Choosing soy protein over animal protein
  • Including monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats in your diet, and reduce saturated fats and trans fats
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Including more of whole grains in your diet
  • Inculcating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Once in a while, include a glass of red wine in your diet. It is known to have properties that allow HDL to remain in the body for longer periods by slowing down their oxidation process, thus making them more productive