Foods That Raise HDL
While several foods have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol, no foods that raise HDL consistently have been found. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish) have been shown to have heart benefits; however, they do not increase HDL. Ways to decrease this level of cholesterol include losing weight, exercising, and not smoking.
Several foods have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) without having an impact on HDL (see Cholesterol Lowering Food). When looking for foods that raise HDL ("good" cholesterol), however, the data is not as clear. Search on the Internet, and you will find everything from garlic to walnuts and more, all claiming to increase HDL. But when you look in the scientific literature, no foods have been shown to consistently do this.
Therefore, while there are foods that lower cholesterol and foods that lower heart disease risk, there are no foods that raise HDL. Types of foods that have heart benefits but do not affect HDL include:
- Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish and dark, leafy greens)
Moderate alcohol has been shown to increase HDL; however, it does not lower LDL.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower triglycerides, a type of fat in the bloodstream. They have also been shown to:
- Lower the risk for heart disease
- Decrease blood clots
- Decrease atherosclerosis
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve the health of arteries
- Decrease the risk of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which can lead to sudden death.
It's important to remember that these foods have not been shown to statistically raise HDL levels, however.
In addition to fatty fish, other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: