HDL-C – The Good Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a compound that is naturally produced in the body by the liver. A small part of cholesterol comes from the foods that we eat.

Sheela Krishnaswamy
Sheela Krishnaswamyhttps://thip.me/32BLvwP
Sheela Krishnaswamy is a Registered Dietitian with 38 years of professional experience in the clinical, corporate and communication spaces. She was trained in India and overseas. She is active in national and international dietetic associations. She has had a media presence for the last 25 years. Formerly, a successful nutrition entrepreneur, an editor, a public speaker and a blogger, currently she works independently as Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Advisor, Anchor, Writer and Corporate Trainer.

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Neelam Singh

High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) has always been labelled as the ‘good’ one. HDL-C carries LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where LDL is broken down and passed from the body. But HDL-C doesn’t completely eliminate LDL-C. 

Increased levels of HDL-C are related to a decreased risk of coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction. 

Asian Indians have a higher prevalence of atherogenic dyslipidemia than western population, which includes low levels of HDL-C. This is due to lifestyle habits like physical inactivity, low exercise and poor-quality diet. HDL-C is likely to be lower in smokers, in overweight/obese persons and sedentary persons. HDL-C tends to be higher in lean, active persons and in non-smokers. 

A study showed that there is a much higher chance of achieving high levels of HDL-C in active persons than inactive ones. In men, high HDL-C was associated with greater duration and intensity of physical activity, while in women, physical activity of smaller intensity and shorter duration was also associated with this change. 

A minimum level of 40 mg/dl HDL-C is beneficial. Anything less than 40 is considered to be a risk factor for heart disease. A reading greater than 60 mg/dl is desirable. 

Regular exercise and daily physical activity, along with eating healthy and not smoking helps to increase HDL-C levels, which is cardio-protective. Removing trans fats from the menu, reducing the intake of total fats (especially saturated fats), reducing sugar and sugar-containing foods & beverages, and avoiding refined carbohydrates can help to maintain good levels of HDL-C.  It’s important to remember that HDL-C is not the only factor which determines the risk for heart disease. There are several other influencing factors. Consult your physician if you need to understand your lipid profile better. 

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