Eating the right types and amounts of food can help you keep your cholesterol levels at a healthy level. In particular, focusing on foods that boost your good HDL cholesterol levels and lower your bad LDL cholesterol levels can help improve your heart health.
Aim to eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy. Avoid added sugars, trans fats, and saturated fat.
Picking low-fat or non-fat versions of cheese, milk, cream, and yogurt can help reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat. This is important because saturated fat can cause your total cholesterol to increase.
Nuts and seeds are chock-full of unsaturated fats, and they have a positive effect on your HDL cholesterol levels. Try adding nuts and seeds to your salad or blend them into a creamy pecan-almond butter for a healthy snack.
To learn more about the role of diet in managing HDL cholesterol levels, continue reading.
What Is HDL Cholesterol?
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is one of the three cholesterol components that are measured in a lipid panel, i.e., the blood test that your doctor or other primary care provider uses to check your cholesterol. When you have a normal level of HDL (good cholesterol), your body can help protect you from heart disease. If you’d like to learn more about healthy HDL cholesterol levels, take a look at this chart here.
HDL is a protein that acts like a knight in shining armor, patrolling your blood vessels to pick up bad LDL cholesterol from the walls of your arteries. Once HDL has snagged the cholesterol, it brings it back to your liver, where it is either recycled or eliminated from your body.
A diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fats can raise your HDL cholesterol. Instead, eat more lean meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and non-tropical vegetable oils.
Can Diet Affect HDL Cholesterol Levels?
The answer is a resounding yes. By limiting foods that contain saturated and trans fats, replacing these with healthier options, and increasing your daily intake of fiber, you can significantly improve your HDL cholesterol levels and lower LDL and triglycerides. This is key to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nuts and seeds are also great sources of healthy unsaturated fats that help keep your cholesterol levels in check. Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios are all good options for your daily dose of nutrients that can make a difference in your HDL levels.
Fatty fish is another good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may elevate low HDL levels and reduce inflammation. Salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and trout are all brimming with these powerful compounds.
Limiting calorie-dense processed foods and increasing your daily intake of whole grains is an easy way to increase your HDL. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, millet, and barley are high in fiber, which can help regulate your cholesterol levels.
The best ways to keep your HDL levels in check are to eat a balanced diet, avoid alcohol and get plenty of physical activity. If you are struggling with your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to help improve them.
Healthy Eating Tips to Improve Your HDL Cholesterol
Eating well can boost your HDL cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet should include lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Here are some healthy eating tips to improve your HDL cholesterol.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
If you want to improve your HDL cholesterol, it is important to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods are high in fiber and nutrients that help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream, which increases your HDL level. Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables will also ensure that you are getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to boost your health.
Eat Lean Meat
If you’re looking to improve your HDL cholesterol, lean meat is a great way to start. This type of protein provides important nutrients and is also low in fat. Moreover, making it a healthy choice for most people. The amount of saturated fat in meat can have a big impact on your risk of heart disease. To cut down on the fat in your diet, opt for lean cuts and also steer clear of fatty red meat, pork, or lamb.
If you have high cholesterol, eating fish can help to improve your HDL cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout are rich in essential fatty acids that are good for your health. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower your triglycerides and other cholesterol levels.
Eat Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are tiny, nutrient-packed foods that can help your HDL cholesterol level go up. The key is to eat them regularly. They are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats and are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are an excellent choice for a heart-healthy snack or a meal and can be used to make a variety of delicious recipes like trail mix, granola, and oatmeal.
Beans And Legumes
Eating legumes, a group of plants that includes beans, peas, and lentils, may help lower your LDL cholesterol, according to research. One serving a day of cooked beans is also linked with a 5 percent reduction in bad cholesterol, researchers found. Legumes also increase HDL, the “good” type of cholesterol that’s thought to protect against heart disease.
Best Foods to Increase Your HDL
One of the most important components of a healthy cholesterol diet is boosting your HDL levels. Moreover, the ones responsible for removing excess LDL and triglycerides from your blood. To boost your HDL, try these foods, as well.
- Olive Oil
- High Fiber Fruit
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
The food you consume can have a direct impact on cholesterol levels. It is important to eat a varied diet that contains a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in the recommended amounts. This helps to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and improve HDL (good Cholesterol). Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to maintain HDL cholesterol levels. It is a good idea to avoid foods that are high in saturated, trans, and hydrogenated fats. Moreover, limit your intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened drinks, deep-fried food, and red meat. Instead, you should eat healthy fats, fiber-rich fruits, and vegetables, along with nuts, seeds, pulses, and legumes. All these foods can also help you to maintain healthy HDL levels.