Are My HDL Cholesterol Levels Too High?
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other harmful forms of cholesterol from the blood. It is generally believed that the higher the HDL level, the better. For most people, this is true. However, some studies have shown that for some people, high HDL levels may actually be harmful.
What is HDL?
When you think of cholesterol, you may think of “bad cholesterol” or “high cholesterol”. However, your body needs other types of “good” cholesterol as well.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good type of cholesterol and the one you want. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad type of cholesterol and the one you want to lower. HDL, LDL and triglycerides – a type of fat carried by the blood – make up your total cholesterol level.
HDL is like a vacuum cleaner that sucks the cholesterol out of your body. When it reaches a healthy level in your blood, it removes excess cholesterol and plaque from your arteries and sends it to your liver. The liver then expels it from the body. Ultimately, this reduces your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Read on to learn more about HD and what foods you can eat to increase your HDL/total cholesterol ratio.
Recommended HDL ranges
Doctors generally recommend that you have an HDL level in your blood of at least 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) The normal value for HDL is between 40 and 59 mg/dL, but it can be higher If your HDL is below 40 mg/dL, you are at higher risk for heart disease.
Problems associated with high HDL cholesterol levels
A study published in Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology showed that people with high levels of C-reactive protein after a heart attack can be affected by high HDL C-reactive protein is a negative produced by the liver in cases of high inflammation in the body. These people’s high HDL levels may actually increase their risk of heart disease, rather than protecting their heart health.
The levels were still within the normal range, but the body may process HDL differently when it has this inflammation. The study looked at the blood of 767 people without diabetes who had a recent heart attack. The researchers used the data to predict outcomes for the study participants, and they found that those with higher levels of HDL and C-reactive protein were a particularly high-risk group for heart disease.
Ultimately, more research is needed to determine the risk of high HDL in this particular group.
Other diseases and drug treatments associated with high HDL levels
High HDL is also associated with other diseases, such as
- Thyroid disorders
- inflammatory diseases
- Alcohol consumption
Cholesterol control medications can also raise HDL levels. These medications are often used to lower LDL, triglyceride and total cholesterol levels.
- Bile salts
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements that raise HDL cholesterol while lowering triglycerides in the blood.
- Statins prevent the liver from making more cholesterol
For people with low HDL levels, increasing HDL levels is often considered a positive side effect because in most cases it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Testing Your HDL Levels
A blood test will tell you your HDL level; in addition to the HDL test, your doctor will also check your LDL and triglyceride levels as part of your overall blood lipid profile. Your total levels will also be measured. The results usually take only a few days to process.
There are a number of factors that can affect the results of your test. Check with your doctor.
- You have recently been sick
- You are pregnant
- Have had a baby for the past six weeks
- You didn’t have a quick test before.
- You’re more stressed than usual
- You recently had a heart attack
All of these factors can lead to inaccurate measurements of HDL in the blood. You may need to wait a few weeks before having your cholesterol tested to make sure the results are correct.
How to lower your cholesterol levels
For most people, a high HDL level is not harmful and does not necessarily require treatment. Your course of action will depend largely on your level of health and your general medical history. Your doctor will help you decide if you should aggressively lower your HDL levels.
You can lower your overall cholesterol levels by
- quitting smoking
- quitting drinking alcohol
- increasing the amount of
- Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet
- Dealing with underlying conditions, such as thyroid disease
The American Heart Association recommends that people 20 years and older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. If you have risk factors for high cholesterol, such as family history, you may need to be tested more frequently.
More research is needed to better understand the dangers of high HDL for some people. If you have a personal or family history of high cholesterol or C-reactive protein levels, talk to your doctor about what you can do to monitor your HDL levels regularly.
11 Foods That Raise HDL
- High-density lipoprotein levels
- Diet and Cholesterol
- Olive oil
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Fruits rich in fiber
- Fatty fish
- Sesame seeds
- Law Firm
- Red wine
- Other means
- Talk to your health care provider.
What is a good HDL level?
The American Heart Association recommends having a blood test for cholesterol before the age of 20. If you are at high risk for heart disease, or if you are overweight or obese, it is recommended that you consult your doctor as soon as possible to get one.
The ideal level for a reliable source of HDL is 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher. If your HDL is below 40 mg/dL, it is considered low; you should aim for an HDL level between 40 and 60 mg/dL, but 60 mg/dL or higher is optimal.
Before making any drastic changes to your diet or taking any supplements, consult your doctor.
Food is a great, all-natural way to provide your body with more vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy nutrients. However, some foods and supplements are prohibited due to potential interactions with medications and prescriptions.
So, consult your doctor before starting to take these foods and supplements to increase HDL and lower LDL.