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General Practice 2023

Good cholesterol (HDL): what é, what it is for and how to increase it

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Good cholesterol (HDL): what é, what it is for and how to increase it
Good cholesterol (HDL): what é, what it is for and how to increase it

Good cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol, is an important type of cholesterol for the proper functioning of the body, as it acts in the process of eliminating fats from the body, helping to prevent heart disease. However, for this, it is important that cholesterol levels in both men and women are above 40 mg/dL and that LDL levels, which is bad cholesterol, be less than 130 mg/dL. See more about cholesterol reference values.

To ensure good levels of good cholesterol, it is important to increase the consumption of foods rich in good fats, such as avocado, nuts, peanuts and fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, in addition to practicing physical activities on a regular basis.

What is HDL for

HDL cholesterol works by removing fat molecules from inside the vessels and directing them to the liver, where they are properly metabolized and eliminated from the body. In addition, good cholesterol has anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action when it is in ideal amounts in the blood, and helps in the production of hormones, bile and vitamin D, which are important for the proper functioning of the body.

In this way, HDL cholesterol acts as a cardiovascular protector, preventing the development of diseases such as heart attack, atherosclerosis, stroke and thrombosis, for example. For these effects to be possible, it is important that HDL and LDL levels are adequate, because lower HDL levels or increased LDL levels can have negative effects on the body, increasing the risk of diseases.

How to know if your good cholesterol is low

To know if the good cholesterol is low, it is important to have a blood test that evaluates the circulating cholesterol levels. Thus, the measurement of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides is normally indicated by the cardiologist or general practitioner. Enter your test results in the calculator below to find out if your cholesterol is good:

Low HDL cholesterol normally does not lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, however it is possible to suspect that HDL is low and LDL is high when there is excess abdominal fat, the person has a diet rich in fat and foods industrialized and does not practice physical activity on a regular basis.

What to do to increase

To increase the concentration of HDL cholesterol in the blood, it is important that the nutritionist is consulted so that an orientation is made according to the nutritional needs of the person and levels of circulating HDL and LDL.In general, to increase good cholesterol, it is recommended to consume foods rich in good fats, such as:

  • Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and tuna, as they are rich in omega-3;
  • Seeds such as chia, flaxseed and sunflower, as they are also natural sources of omega-3, in addition to being rich in fiber;
  • Oil fruits such as cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts and almonds;
  • Avocado and olive oil, as they are rich in unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol.

Another important guideline is to increase physical activity, starting to exercise at least 3 times a week, as it helps control weight, regulate cholesterol production and stimulate fat loss. See more tips on what to eat to improve good cholesterol.

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