When you think of cholesterol, you probably think of bad or high cholesterol. There’s also a good type of cholesterol, though, that your body needs.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good kind of cholesterol and the kind you want. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad kind of cholesterol and the kind you want to keep in check.
Keep reading to learn more about HDL and what foods you should be eating to raise your HDL levels.
What Is HDL?
HDL is like a vacuum cleaner or snowplow for cholesterol in the body. When it’s at healthy levels in your blood, it removes extra cholesterol and plaque buildup in your arteries and then sends it to your liver. Your liver expels it from your body. Ultimately, this will help reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
What are good HDL levels?
The American Heart Association recommends getting a cholesterol blood test by age 20. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting one sooner if you’re at risk for heart conditions or you’re overweight or obese.
An ideal HDL level is 60 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) or above. Your HDL is considered low if it’s below 40 mg/dL. You should aim to have HDL levels between 40 and 60 mg/dL.
Foods that increase HDL
A bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, a piece of fried chicken for lunch, a steak in sautéed in butter for dinner, and a bowl of ice cream at night are not ideal for your cholesterol. These are sources of saturated and trans fat, and they can increase your LDL levels.
Just as some foods can raise your bad cholesterol, certain foods can raise your good cholesterol, too. Start incorporating these HDL-friendly foods into your daily diet:
10. 1. Olive oil
The type of heart-healthy fat found in olives and olive oil can increase your HDL and lower the inflammatory impact of LDL cholesterol on your body.
Swap extra-virgin olive oil for all your other oils and fats when cooking at low temperatures, as extra virgin olive oil breaks down at high temperatures. Use the oil in salad dressings, sauces, and to flavor foods once they’re cooked. Sprinkle chopped olives on salads or add them to soups, like this Sicilian Fish Soup. Just be sure to use this food in moderation because it’s high in calories too.