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What Is Cholesterol, Its Types And Foods To Boost HDL Cholesterol, The Good Cholesterol

Updated on September 5, 2016
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat, a wax like substance that is produced by the liver. It is absolutely essential for normal body functions. Every cell of our body contains cholesterol in its outer layer as it is an important structural component of the cell.

The body of a man, 150 pounds in weight, makes on an average about 1000 mg cholesterol a day. About 85% of the required cholesterol is made by the body while about 15% is needed via diet.

The American Heart Association recommends one to consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day in normal cases, and if the LDL cholesterol levels are 100 mg/dL or more, it is suggested to consume under 200 mg of cholesterol per day.

USDA recommends a consumption of below 200 mg per day.

Though our body regulates its production of cholesterol in relation to the cholesterol levels present in the body, and the blood cholesterol levels are an indicator of that, excess consumption of cholesterol leads to high blood cholesterol levels, which leads to heart disease.

Why Is Cholesterol Needed?

Cholesterol not only builds and maintains the outer layer of the cell membranes, it also, regulates cell membrane permeability and fluidity, is needed for the production of bile, hormones including the sex hormones and converts sunshine falling on the skin into Vitamin D.

Cholesterol is also needed for the metabolism of the fat soluble vitamins and it also insulates the nerve fibers.

A Healthy Heart
A Healthy Heart | Source

More About Cholesterol

Cholesterol is carried or transported by protein molecules called apoproteins as it is insoluble in blood and cannot be transported without a carrier molecule.

When cholesterol and apoprotein combine they form a compound called lipoprotein.

The density of the lipoprotein is determined by the amount of the protein in the lipoprotein.

Thus, LDL has low amounts of protein and high amounts of cholesterol and is therefore the bad cholesterol and this gets deposited in the arteries leading to atherosclerosis.

HDL has high amounts of protein and low amounts of cholesterol and is therefore the good cholesterol and it removes the excess cholesterol and transports it to the liver for breakdown and disposal.

Dietary Sources Of Cholesterol And Choices

All animal fats contain cholesterol in varying amounts. Eat less of saturated fats and fried foods. It is wise to choose unsaturated fats (These are liquid at room temperature).

Avoid red meat; instead prefer poultry and fish, limiting it to 7 ounces or less per day. Eat more soluble fiber. Quit smoking. Eat no more than 3 egg yolks per week. Control weight and reduce it if overweight. Follow a regular exercise routine, avoid trans fat and drink in moderation.

Normal Values For Cholesterol Levels

Total Cholesterol
Less Than 200
Over 240
HDL Cholesterol
Over 60
Less than 40
LDL Cholesterol
Less Than 130
Over 160
Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
Less Than 4.5
Over 5.5
Less Than 3
Over 5
Less Than 150
200 - 499 High, 500 Above Very high

Types Of Cholesterol

  • LDL Cholesterol or Low Density Lipoprotein

It is also called the bad cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells and if its levels get too high for the cells to handle the excess is deposited in the arteries as plaque.

  • HDL Cholesterol or High Density Lipoprotein

It is also called the good cholesterol. HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood vessels. It carries cholesterol from the cells to the liver for it to be broken down and removed from the body. The higher the HDL levels, the more cholesterol is removed.

  • Triglycerides

This is the chemical form in which most of the fat exists in the body. Triglycerides and Cholesterol are the components of blood fat.

Triglycerides are obtained either from our diet or are made by the body from energy sources like carbohydrates.

Any excess calories we consume that are not used immediately are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. In the absence of any energy source, if the body needs energy, these triglycerides are released from the fat cells and used as energy.

Foods That Increase HDL Cholesterol, The Good Cholestrol

In this section, I am listing some foods that increase HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol Some of these foods also lower the LDL levels, the bad cholesterol, so that is an added bonus you get when you consume them.

Some strategies in this regard:

  • Eat More Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios and pecans contain heart healthy unsaturated fats. These can be consume raw, baked or lightly toasted as per your preference. Nuts can also be added to cereals, yogurt, salads etc.

  • Consume More Fish

Fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines are very rich in omega-3 fats again the healthy heart fats. Eat at least 2 servings of fish every week. If you desire you can use fish oil supplements instead.

  • Use These Oils

Oils like olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats which raise HDL levels. Cook foods lightly in olive oil and use it to replace butter and fried foods. However since oils are high in calories, moderation is a must.

  • Avocado

Though avocado is high in fats the fats, especially oleic acid, are heart healthy. Spread mashed avocado on sandwiches, make guacamole to use with veggies or whole grain crackers etc. Diced avocado can also be added to salads.

  • Oatmeal

The soluble fiber in oatmeal raises HDL levels, reduces LDL levels and oatmeal has excellent levels of this fiber.

  • Useful Fruits

Of the fruits eat bananas, apples, prunes, pears. Pectin in these fruits binds the cholesterol and removes it.

  • Lentils

The soluble fiber in lentils and kidney, lima, navy and black beans raise HDL as well as lower LDL levels.

  • Seeds For Heart Health

Sunflower seeds, flaxseeds contain heart healthy fats and should be consumed regularly but in moderation.

  • Eat Magnesium Rich Foods

Vegetables like spinach, yams, potatoes, seaweed raise the HDL or good cholesterol and also benefit by lowering blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood fats.

  • Drink Cranberry Juice

Be sure to buy 100% juice that has at least 27% cranberry. Studies have found that those who drank three 8 ounce glasses of cranberry juice a day for 1 month raised their HDL levels by 10%.

  • Eat Dark Chocolate

Consuming 2.5 ounces of dark chocolate everyday raised the HDL levels by 11-14% in a Finnish study. So, eat dark chocolate, just don't gorge on it.

  • Take A Calcium Pill

A study has found that those who took a 1000 mg calcium supplement everyday raised their HDL levels by 7%. However, be sure to take calcium as calcium citrate and also ensure the supplement has at least 400 IU of Vitamin D for maximum calcium absorption. This study was published in the American Journal Of Medicine.

  • Eat Whole Grains

Brown rice, whole wheat and barley contain soluble fiber and niacin, both of which raise HDL.

  • Eat Raw Onions

Half a raw onion consumed daily raised HDL levels.

  • Drink Wine But In Moderation

Though not a food, 1 to 2 glasses of red wine a day will also raise the HDL cholesterol levels and lower the LDL levels.

To Summarize

High cholesterol levels have the biggest role to play in developing heart disease. This simply means that you just need to control your cholesterol levels to within normal limits to substantially reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Simple changes to what you eat and your lifestyle can ensure this. But first and foremost stick to a low fat diet.

Follow this up by including the following in your daily diet.

  1. Eating foods like beans and pulses that are high in fiber and high fiber bread.
  2. Eating about 30 grams of nuts daily ensuring they are without added salt.
  3. Eating soya instead of dairy and meat in the form of soya nuts, soya milk, soya yogurt and tofu.
  4. Eating oats as in oat bread, porridge, soy mince or oat cakes.
  5. Consume about 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil / rapeseed oil in cooked foods.

Along with this contain your total saturated fat consumption to under 70 grams per day and you can still indulge in an occasional egg, a small helping of sausage or steak or even cheese, chocolate and coffee.


The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.



© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks MG Singh.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      7 years ago from UAE

      Nice information

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for visiting, Donna.

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      7 years ago from Central North Carolina

      All yummy foods, so following this advice should not be difficult.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Aurelio, yes, exercise is an important factor in cholesterol reduction. But this hub was dealing with only foods that raised the good cholesterol. Thanks for the read and vote.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      An excellent hub for those of us trying to control our cholesterol. I'd also like to mention the value of exercise in getting good levels. I was able to get off the cholesterol meds due to regular exercise. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Hi Au fait. You are right, olive oil removes plaque depositions from within the arteries.

      Thanks for stopping by and appreciate your sharing.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      This was one of the subjects we covered in my nutrition class at the university. We were told that olive oil specifically, not any of the others, but olive oil has the ability to reverse high cholesterol, and more importantly, clogged arteries. In other words if you believe your arteries are getting clogged, eat olive oil.

      There are a gazillion ways to include it in one's diet instead of saturated (butter or lard) or worst of all, partially hydrogenated fats (margarine, Crisco, etc.).

      Good that you are helping people to be informed about this subject. Voted up and will share!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @Sueswan-maintaining high levels of the good cholesterol is advised to protect the heart. Glad you like the info. Thanks for the votes and sharing.

      @Linda-the calcium pill will take care of many other issues as well. Appreciate the visit.

      @Devika-thanks for always being so supportive of my hubs. Good to see you.

      @Mary-thanks for visiting and commenting. Much appreciated.

      @Carly-thanks. Glad you appreciate the info.

      @Rasma-dark chocolate, an ounce of it is fine everyday. Takes care of a lot of problems. Thanks for the read and sharing.

      @Peggy-its always good to see you. I appreciate your visit, votes and sharing. Thanks.

      @Rose-thanks for being a solid support to my hubs.

      @Jo-yes, more nuts but within limits; they are loaded with calories. Lol! Appreciate your continued support.

      @Nithya-thanks for reading and appreciating. Good to see you.

      @Elias-yes, absolutely! Thanks for visiting.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Cholesterol is everyone's concern, or at least, it should be. Thanks for this breakdown on the differences between good and bad cholesterol. Very informative and helpful.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      7 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Useful and informative hub, Rajan. Diet habits are crucial in maintaining a good health with normal numbers of cholesterol. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Useful information about cholesterol. The table about the values of cholesterol is very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      7 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Eat more nuts!.....I've just polished off a whole pack. :)

      Great hub, very relevant useful information.

      Nice work.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Rajan, you always have amazing and very informative articles! They are always a pleasure to read. This article on cholesterol is very insightful. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Your health articles are always excellent. Many people struggling to keep their cholesterol under control should enjoy reading this. Up, useful and interesting votes and will also share, tweet and pin.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for this very informative hub. It was nice to see that most of the food I should eat I have been eating. All I can say is that anything that has to do with eating dark chocolate is alright by me. Passing this on.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      Carly Sullens 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Very informative and life saving hub. Thank you Rajan, I am going to add more of the foods you mentioned in my diet. :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Cholesterol is on everyone's mind and you have done a bang up job of explaining it. It can be so confusing figuring out the good cholesterol vs the bad cholesterol.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I now know more about the cholesterol levels and glad to read this important information. I often cook with olive oil, thanks for this helpful Hub on What Is Cholesterol, Its Types And Foods To Boost HDL Cholesterol, The Good Cholesterol

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent and informative hub Rajan! I have my cholesterol checked every year. So far, so good. I consume most of the foods on the list...I'm going to add a calcium pill to my regimen. I like to take care of my ticker. Thanks for the tip!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Ranjan,

      Thank you for providing us with this very useful and interesting information on cholesterol.

      I knew that LDL was the bad cholesterol. I remember the first "L" in my mind as lousy.

      Voted up, awesome and sharing

      Take care :)

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @livingsta-you are correct in saying that diet plays a very important role in determining our cholesterol levels. Thanks for the visit and comments and I appreciate the sharing.

      Have a wonderful day.

      @Bill-doctors advise adults to get their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years if they are otherwise in good health. I hope you get your numbers checked to be aware of the numbers. Thanks for appreciating the info. Have a great day.

      Joe-I'm glad this hub has come at an opportune time for you. Slightly elevated numbers can be corrected by choosing the right foods and, of course, your walking is going to help you a lot.

      Thanks for the read and have a great day! Aloha, my friend!

      @Bobbi-thanks for reading and we need to be aware of the right foods to eat. I appreciate your comments. Have a good day!

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      I enjoyed this hub because we all need to be more aware of what we are eating and what our body really needs.

      Thanks again for the greatest information on Health---we all need it.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      7 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, Rajan!

      I went to the doctor yesterday, and so this topic of cholesterol is near and dear to me. Mine was a bit elevated, so this information is timely and well presented. Thank you so much, my friend, for providing us with this wonderful service. Aloha!


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Such important information, Rajan. I have not had my cholesterol checked in ten years, but I will in October and then we'll see how I'm doing.

      Well done and a must read for everyone interested in good health.



    • livingsta profile image


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is useful information. The variety of foods, that is fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals that increase HDL or lower LDL is amazing. It's about carefully and wisely choosing the balanced diet. Thank you for this Rajan!

      Voted up and sharing!


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