HDL Raising Foods
Although several foods have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, there are no proven HDL raising foods. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as walnuts and fatty fish) won't increase HDL, but they have been shown to have heart benefits. Moderate amounts of alcohol may raise HDL; however, drinking alcohol is not right for everyone.
Several foods have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol without having an impact on HDL (see Cholesterol Lowering Food to learn more.) When it comes to "HDL raising foods," however, the data is not as clear.
Search on the Internet and you will find any number of foods that supposedly raise HDL. However, when you look at the research, you see that no foods have been shown to increase HDL on a consistent basis. Therefore, while there are foods that lower cholesterol and foods that lower a person's risk for heart disease, there are no HDL raising foods. Foods that offer heart benefits include:
Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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:
- Decrease blood clots
- Decrease atherosclerosis
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower the risk for heart disease
- Improve the health of arteries
- Decrease the risk of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which can lead to sudden death.
It's important to remember, however, that these fish are not HDL raising foods.
In addition to fatty fish, other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
Walnuts are another food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and may reduce the risk for heart disease. Walnuts are most beneficial when used to replace less healthy fats, such as saturated fat from meat; however, they have not been shown to either increase HDL or lower LDL.