High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your blood stream. Higher levels of HDL are associated with lower risk of heart disease and it is recommended that we maintain a cholesterol level reading of over 60mg/dL of HDL.
Now, there many foods out there that are rich in HDL but the most prominent would have to be fatty fish or fish oil.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA), studies have shown that high intake of fatty fish or fish oil is linked to decreased cardiac risk factors. And in fact, the American Heart Health Association (AHA) recommends that we consume 2-4 grams of EPA+DHA every day or at least 2 meals of fatty fish per week.
However, that being said, not all fish are considered fatty fish as fatty fish are typically cold-water fish such as:
Besides just being rich in HDL, fatty fish or fish oil has also been reported to demonstrate modest reductions in blood pressure and lower levels of LDL & Triglycerides. With so many benefits of omega-3, it is no wonder that fish oil is one of the most widely consumed supplements in the world.
All in all, it’s safe to say that fatty fish or fish oil is pretty essential in maintain good cholesterol levels and heart health. But besides just fatty fish or fish oil, there are also other HDL rich foods out there that we can consume on a regular basis. They are:
1. Olive Oil
Rich in low saturated and heart-healthy fats, olive oil is a great and easy way to increase our HDL levels. You can cook with extra-virgin olive oil but avoid cooking at high temperatures as the oil breaks down at high temperatures. Instead we recommend using extra-virgin olive oil in salads, sauces or to flavour foods once they have been cooked.
2. Beans & Legumes
A great source of soluble fiber that helps to reduce LDL & Triglyceride levels while increasing HDL levels, beans and legumes are a cheap and easy option to incorporate into every meal.
3. Whole Grains
Like beans & legumes, whole grains are rich in soluble fibre. It is recommended that we have at least two servings of wholes grains per day. However, do take note that while rice is considered a grain, only brown or wild rice are whole grains as they are less processed and still contain their husks. Other whole grains include, bran, oatmeal, quinoa and cereals.
4. High-fiber fruit & Veg
Fruits such as prunes, apples, pears, bananas and dark-coloured leafy vegetables are all extremely high in soluble fiber. Incorporating several servings of these super foods are an easy way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
5. Flax & Chia Seeds
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan looking for fatty fish or fish oil alternatives, look no further. Flax & Chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids and are a great substitute for fish oil supplements. Just make sure you’re buying ground flax seeds or flax oil because whole flax seeds are impossible for our bodies to breakdown.
Brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts are all rich with heart-healthy fats. Pop a handful for a mid-afternoon snack and you heart will thank you.
7. Wild Garlic
The active component in Garlic has been found to be able to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels while also providing a significant blood pressure regulating effect. And these active components, Ajoene, Adenosine and Y-Glutamyly Peptides are more abundant in wild garlic compared to common garlic we find in supermarkets. Additionally, wild garlic is also less odorous compared to common garlic, making it the perfect daily superfood we can all incorporate into our diets.
8. Hawthorn Berry
Most commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry has demonstrated in several clinical studies that it has a LDL & Triglyceride lowering effect on the body. Besides that, the fruit is also high in antioxidants and has been thought to be able to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation.
9. Artichoke Leaves
Long used as a herbal remedy throughout the ages, Artichoke Leaf is known for its cholesterol lowering effects. In several clinical trials, the herb has shown significant impact in lowering LDL & total cholesterol levels.
10. Rooibos Tea
Extremely rich in antioxidants, rooibos tea may improve your lipid profile as a study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that participants who dranks six cups of fermented rooibos every day for six weeks showed a decrease in LDL of about 0.7 mmol/L and an increase in HDL of about 0.3 mmol/L. This caffeine-free tea is not only amazing for the body but also suitable for daily consumption.