Understand HDL (high-density lipoproteins)?

What is high-density lipoproteins?

High-density lipoprotein is commonly termed as HDL. It is also known by the name of good cholesterol because it helps in the removal of all other bad forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are mainly linked with a low risk of developing any heart disease.

Cholesterol is mainly a waxy substance found in body cells and it has many useful functions, like helping buildup of body cells. It travels via the bloodstream and attaches to proteins. These proteins f

urther are known as lipoproteins.

What are the optimal ranges of HDL?

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of the blood or in millimoles per liter. Higher the number of HDL cholesterol in the body the better it is.

Recommended HDL range for men- 60 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L and above

At risk HDL range for men- < 40 mg/dL or 1.0 mmol/L

Recommended HDL range for women- 60 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L and above

At risk HDL range for women < 50 mg/dL or 1.3 mmol/L

People who possess naturally higher numbers of HDL cholesterol are preferably at low risk of developing any heart attacks and even stroke. However, image about its benefits by manual increasing the HDL numbers by medicine is not yet very clear.

Few interventions help to increase HDL and lower the risk of heart attacks, like healthy cholesterol-friendly diet plan, regular exercise, and quitting smoking etc. However, an increase of HDL via medicine does not help much in avoiding heart disease risks.

How can I know my HDL level?

Undergoing a simple blood test for HDL cholesterol or complete cholesterol count can let you know your HDL numbers with ease. So get to know your HDL numbers via Cholesterol Test and know how safe you are from heart diseases.

Following are few recommendations for how often you must get it done:

For children:

Children must get the test done every 5 years until there appear to be any heart issues.

For age 19 or younger:

The first test must be done from 9 to 11years of age and thereafter every 5 years.

For age 20 or older:

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Young adults must evaluate their HDL values every 5 years however with age it must be repeated more often.

For HDL cholesterol, higher the numbers the better they are. Further level varies with age and sex.

What can be done to raise the HDL level?

Lifestyle prominently affects the levels of HDL. Few changes in daily habits might even prevent heart diseases and several other fatal conditions.

Following few lifestyle changes might help you feel better in terms of health and preventing diseases:

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet:

It is always essential to eat a well balanced diet full of every vitamin, with the balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, calcium, and other essential minerals. However, in order to raise your HDL level, you must focus on eating good fats as well and avoid bad fats.


Following a diet with limiting saturated fats, like full-fat milk and cheese, high-fat meats like bacon and sausage, butter and other fat-rich dairy products. You must even avoid trans-fats like margarine, and processed or fried foods etc. Instead, you should prefer eating unsaturated fats, like olive oil, oatmeals, etc.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight:

You can boost your HDL levels by losing few pounds of weight, especially if lots of fat is present as piles around your waistline. Try to have some metabolic rate increasing drinks like green tea, black coffee, and green coffee etc. to help ease the weight loss journey. Stay determinant to lose weight until you reach your goals.

  • Exercise regularly:

Doing daily 20 to 30 minutes of simple exercises can help in boosting up your HDL levels. You may also go for activities that hold your interest in swimming, cycling, dancing, Zumba, sports, and even brisk walking or running etc. These not only help in shedding off extra calories but also help in balancing all body activities and hormones to make you more fit and healthy.

  • Avoid cigarette smoking:

Smoking causes endless harms to the body even passive smokers are affected by it. Since it affects HDL by lowering its numbers so you must avoid smoking if you consider resolving these cholesterol issues completely. Daily smoking habit causes a continuous harm to your HDL levels on daily basis. So try quitting active smoking along with avoiding passive one. Find a way as per your comfort or take your healthcare professional’s help or assistance to quit this habit.

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  • Limit alcohol consumption:

Even moderate amounts of alcohol consumption might lower your HDL levels to a certain extent, although studies still need to justify hat with firm proofs. What we do know is that too much alcohol can make you gain weight, and that lowers your HDL level.

  • Certain medications lower HDL levels:

Such medicines must be best avoided if possible.

Those medications include:

Beta blockers, which is a type of blood pressure medicine; Anabolic steroids like testosterone which is a male hormone substitute; progestins, which are present in birth control pills or hormonal pills used by women; benzodiazepines, which are used in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety; diabetes medications and even statins. You must consult your physician if you are prescribed with such HDL affecting medicines, to provide you with an alternative of these medications to help with your cholesterol. Also, healthcare professionals usually do not prescribe medicine to raise HDL levels however in case of high LDL you might certainly need some medicine.


The body needs good cholesterol or HDL or high-density lipids for its proper functioning and removal of LDL. So ensuring ways to maintain recommended HDL level is a must for a healthy body.


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