Alternative medicine (3)
- Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus)
- Cholesterol-lowering supplements: Lower your numbers without prescription medication
- Herbal supplements may not mix with heart medicines
- Membranous nephropathy
- Cholesterol levels: What numbers should you aim for?
- Triglycerides: Why do they matter?
Lifestyle and home remedies (8)
- Top 5 lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol: How to boost your 'good' cholesterol
- Cholesterol: Top 5 foods to lower your numbers
- see all in Lifestyle and home remedies
- Tool: Target heart rate calculator
Tests and diagnosis (2)
- Cholesterol levels: What numbers should you aim for?
- Cholesterol test
Treatments and drugs (5)
- Niacin to boost your HDL, 'good,' cholesterol
- Statins: Are these cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you?
- Lowering cholesterol: Discover your options
- see all in Treatments and drugs
HDL cholesterol: How to boost your 'good' cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels are an important measure of heart health. For HDL cholesterol, also known as your "good" cholesterol, the higher the better. Here's how to boost your HDL.By Mayo Clinic staff
Although your doctor may have told you to lower your total cholesterol, it's important to raise your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is known as the "good" cholesterol. It might sound like a mixed message, but reducing "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol may lower your risk of heart disease.
Understanding HDL cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in all of your cells and has several useful functions, including helping to build your body's cells. It's carried through your bloodstream attached to proteins. These proteins are called lipoproteins.
- Low-density lipoproteins. These lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body, delivering it to different organs and tissues. But if your body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess keeps circulating in your blood. Over time, circulating LDL cholesterol can enter your blood vessel walls and start to build up under the vessel lining. Deposits of LDL cholesterol particles within the vessel walls are called plaques, and they begin to narrow your blood vessels. Eventually, plaques can narrow the vessels to the point of blocking blood flow, causing coronary artery disease. This is why LDL cholesterol is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are often referred to as HDL, or "good," cholesterol. They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it's broken down. The higher your HDL level, the less "bad" cholesterol you'll have in your blood.
Just lowering your LDL cholesterol might not be enough for people at high risk of heart disease. Increasing HDL cholesterol also can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Although higher levels of HDL can be helpful in reducing your risk of having a heart attack, researchers caution that you should also consider other risk factors for developing heart disease. It's possible that HDL may not be as helpful for some people as others based on genetics, the size of the HDL particles and other proteins in your blood. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about how increasing your HDL cholesterol might affect you.
Set your target HDL cholesterol level
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood or millimoles (mmol) per liter (L). When it comes to HDL cholesterol, aim for a higher number.
|Men||Less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L)||60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above|
|Women||Less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L)||60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above|
If your HDL cholesterol level falls between the at-risk and desirable levels, you should keep trying to increase your HDL level to reduce your risk of heart disease.
If you don't know your HDL level, ask your doctor for a baseline cholesterol test. If your HDL value isn't within a desirable range, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to boost your HDL cholesterol.Next page
(1 of 2)
- Good vs. bad cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Third report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Bethesda, Md.: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- The Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. Major lipids, apolipoproteins and risk of vascular disease. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;302:1993.
- Chapman MJ, et al. Triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease: Evidence and guidance for management. European Heart Journal. 2011;32:1345.
- FDA statement on the AIM-HIGH trial. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm256841.htm. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Weichhart T, et al. Serum amyloid A in uremic HDL promotes inflammation. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2012;23:934.
- Voight BF, et al. Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: A mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet. 2012;380:572.
- Mackey RH, et al. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and particle concentrations, carotid atherosclerosis, and coronary events. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2012;60:508.
- Jensen MK, et al. Apolipoprotein C-III as a potential modulator of the association between HDL-cholesterol and incident coronary heart disease. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2012;1:jah3.
- Mozaffarian D, et al. Components of a cardioprotective diet: New insights. Circulation. 2011;123:2870.