Many people are worried about their cholesterol being too high.
A lot of the time I’m more worried about about your HDL cholesterol being too low.
HDL is high-density lipoprotein. It is referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it actually helps move cholesterol and plaque out of your blood. Low HDL is associated with a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
When I see a cholesterol panel, HDL is the number I look at first. It tells me a lot about your diet and exercise habits, and gives me a sense of your future risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
The higher your HDL the better.
Typically a “normal” HDL for women is over 50 and for men over 40. However, this is far from optimal — I like to see an HDL at least over 60 in both genders.
The fact is, there’s no good medication for raising HDL. But there is a lot you can do in your daily life.
Yes, exercising daily, limiting sugars, and eating more fiber will help. But the best way to improve your HDL cholesterol is to actually eat more FAT. I’m not talking about fried foods or red meat or trans fats, but healthy fats.
Below is a list of some of these healthy fats to work into your diet to eat EVERY DAY to help optimize your HDL cholesterol and your health in general:
- Avocados – eat anytime for snack or part of a meal
- Nuts – eat a handful daily, mix up walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, brazil nuts
- Coconut oil – add it to your oatmeal, sauté your vegetables in it
- Olive oil – drizzle this on your veggies
- Eat fatty fish twice a week or take a fish oil supplement (and if you don’t eat fish you can find vegetarian omega 3 supplements)
- Flax seeds and/or flax oil – add to oatmeal, salads, smoothies
- Chia seeds – add to oatmeal or smoothies
These foods help increase your healthy fats, increase your fiber intake (flax, chia, nuts all have lots of great fiber), and will naturally curb your desire for the extra sugars and carbs.
It’s a good idea to find out your HDL. If it’s low, you can make some changes and recheck it in three months so you can see how much power you actually have over improving it.