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HDL cholesterol

Several people think that they are not at a risk for high cholesterol and the problems associated with it, because they are still young. However, studies indicate that even though a person may have normal total cholesterol levels, there are several people who have a High Density Lipoprotein levels that are way below what they should be. People often wonder if cholesterol is good or bad for health. In order to understand that, it is important to know about the different types of cholesterol. There are up to 18 different types of cholesterol that can be found in the human body, but to reduce confusion, doctors divide cholesterol into two main categories LDL and HDL.
LDL is the cholesterol that has the tendency to deposit on the walls of the arteries, where it interferes with the flow of blood as it builds up. Therefore, it is this “bad” cholesterol, which is detrimental to our health. On the other hand, when the liver produces cholesterol, a small amount of it is used for healthy purposes, like the production of hormones, which turn food and exercise, into muscles. They are known as the “good” cholesterol.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is a positive factor that is associated with a decrease in the risks of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD). A HDL cholesterol level that is at 60 mg/ dl or more is a negative risk factor, which is a good thing. On the other hand, a HDL Cholesterol level that is below 40 mg/ dl means that the person is at a higher risk of heart problems. Clinical evidence states that high HDL cholesterol leads to reduced events of CHD, while low HDL cholesterol could mean the opposite. Studies indicate that those people, who live to be 100 years or so, tend to have genetic mutations, because of which they have high levels of HDL cholesterol. This is because the High HDL cholesterol seems to confer some sort of protection on them, in spite of a lack of adequate physical activity or following diets that are high in fat. High HDL cholesterol also seems to protect people from the ill-effects of smoking.

Cholesterol ratios can be used to predict the chances of the development of heart diseases in an individual. The total HDL cholesterol ratio can be calculated by dividing the total cholesterol of a person, by the HDL cholesterol. While the ideal ratio is 3.5:1, the goal for most people is to keep the HDL cholesterol ratio below 5:1. However, doctors and research scientists do not always see eye to eye on the effectiveness of calculating cholesterol ratios, to assess the risk of CHD. It is quite possible to raise the levels of HDL cholesterol, by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

•    Onions are very high in HDL cholesterol. Eat at least half a raw onion each day, to raise your HDL cholesterol levels.
•    Include at least two servings of high soluble fiber foods, in your daily diet, which includes citrus fruits, legumes, lentils, brown rice, whole rice, oats and oat bran.
•    Cooking oils such as olive oil or canola oil are higher in mono-saturated fats and should be used instead of other oils.
•    The consumption of foods, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish, dark green vegetables, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil or cold pressed flaxseed oil should be increased
•    Soy products like tofu, tempe, soy nuts and textured vegetable protein (TVP) can raise the HDL cholesterol in the body.

It is very important to consult your doctor regularly and make sure that you go for routine check-ups. This will help to monitor your HDL cholesterol levels.

Submitted on January 16, 2014