Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed, Clinical Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Mumabai.
Most people usually tend to think of cholesterol as something bizarre since there are so many myths lurking around the actual facts.
Cholesterol are waxy substances that found in every cell of your body as they are really necessary for the body in various functions for example, they help as shock absorbents in major injuries, helps in synthesizing vitamin D in the body, and many others.
Fats when combine with lipids in your body they make lipoproteins which are of 3 types: HDL (High density lipoprotein), LDL (Low density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). For a layman they are termed as good, bad and very bad types of cholesterol.
The prevalence rate for low HDL cholesterol in India is 72.3% which makes the condition more vulnerable for heart patients. (1)
Let’s talk more about HDL cholesterol and it’s importance in the maintenance of heart health.
HDL stands short for high density lipoprotein, the name itself suggests why this cholesterol is good for the body, since it is high in its density it attaches to the extra cholesterol present in the body and takes it away.
Cholesterol is not all bad but having too much of anything makes it a curse. HDL’s also have the ability to control the bad cholesterol i.e. LDL by recycling them back to the liver.
The most fascinating role of HDL is to scrub and clean the damaged cholesterol and avoiding atherosclerotic clot development.
How is it tested?
A blood test of lipid profile shows you the entire cholesterol panel and its readings which can help you understand where you stand.
Fasting gives you more accurate results, so make sure to fast for 8-10 hours before getting tested.
The values that decide the and highs and lows are if the value is greater than 60 mg/dl (milligrams/deciliters) than you are at lesser risk of getting heart disease if the value is lesser than 40 mg/dl (milligrams/deciliters).
How to keep up with the HDL levels of the body?
Eat a healthy diet: Diet that is rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids have proven to be a positive supporter to control your cholesterol levels and achieve a healthy HDL level.
Supplements: Fish liver oil tablets have proven to be effective in lowering your triglycerides level. Taking 1 tablet per day for 3 months can help a person to reduce the triglyceride levels along with a healthy diet. (2)
Almonds and walnuts: Since they are high in monosaturated fatty acids and phytosterols help block the excess cholesterol to be absorbed in the gut.
Physical activity: Staying physically active can help your body stay in shape and your cholesterol in control. There are various studies that have shown improved HDL levels in individuals with strength training and high-intensity workouts. (3)
Quit smoking: Smoking harms a lot of our body organs, including lungs, heart, brain, etc. The nicotine present in the cigarettes suppresses the effect of HDL in the body which may lead to thickening of the arterial walls causing abnormal heart conditions. (4)
Although genes play a vital role in the determination of HDL cholesterol it is up to you to get the levels within range naturally.