Foods to Increase HDL
Eating certain foods to increase HDL (the "good cholesterol") may seem like a good idea. However, despite marketing claims, researchers have not yet identified any foods proven to do this, although several foods have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. While foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish and dark, leafy vegetables) have proven heart benefits, they do not increase HDL.
Research has shown that there are several foods that lower LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol without having an impact on HDL (high density lipoprotein).
(Click Cholesterol Lowering Food for more information about foods shown to lower LDL.)
However, when it comes to research on foods to increase HDL levels, the data is not as clear. Many Web sites tout a wide range of foods that are supposed to increase HDL levels. But when you look at the scientific literature, no foods have been shown to do this consistently. Foods that have heart benefits but do not increase HDL include:
While moderate alcohol use has been shown to increase HDL, it does not lower LDL.
Certain types of fatty fish (such as salmon, trout, tuna, 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:
- Decrease blood clots
- Decrease atherosclerosis
- Lower the risk for heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve the health of arteries
- Decrease the risk of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which can lead to sudden death.
Keep in mind that these foods have not been shown to statistically increase HDL levels.
In addition to fatty fish, other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: