HDL Meaning

HDL stands for High-Density Lipoprotein

What does HDL stand for in medical or fitness contexts?

“HDL” stands for High-Density Lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. It plays a crucial role in the body by helping to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and transport it to the liver for excretion. High levels of HDL cholesterol are generally associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, as it contributes to the overall balance of cholesterol in the body. Monitoring both HDL and LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels is essential for assessing cardiovascular health.

Is HDL good or Bad for health?

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is one of the carriers that transports cholesterol in the bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Unlike LDL cholesterol which deposits cholesterol in arteries, HDL carries cholesterol away from tissues to the liver where it can be eliminated from the body. So HDL acts as a cholesterol scavenger and is protective against dangerous plaque buildup in arteries.

Therefore, having higher levels of HDL cholesterol may prevent heart attacks and stroke by counteracting the effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Generally speaking, a higher ratio of total HDL cholesterol to total LDL cholesterol correlates to better cardiovascular health. Improving low HDL (<40 mg/dL for men; <50 mg/dL for women) can be addressed through lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, losing weight if overweight, reducing processed carbs, exercising regularly, and potentially taking medication.

In summary, HDL cholesterol is considered the “good” kind of cholesterol due to its role in scavenging and removing excess cholesterol from circulation in the bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL relative to other lipids profile components are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

What foods that contain HDL cholesterol?

Here are some foods that contain high levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol:

Fatty Fish Fatty cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines are all excellent sources of HDL cholesterol raising omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s EPA and DHA found abundantly in oily fish can increase HDL concentrations significantly. For example, a meta-analysis of over 300 randomized controlled trials showed fish oil supplements can raise HDL by 4.87 mg/dL on average. Eating fatty fish rich in these heart-healthy omega-3s two to three times a week is recommended for supporting higher HDL.

Nuts and Seeds Nuts like almonds and walnuts as well as seeds like flax, chia and hemp are nutritional powerhouses when it comes to raising HDL. Several analyses of clinical trials found eating around 67 grams of nuts daily can increase HDL levels by 2-12 percent. In particular, pistachios contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin that improve HDL. Nuts provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats called phospholipids that boost HDL. And seeds are loaded with soluble fiber and bioactive plant compounds that support healthy cholesterol levels.

Olive Oil High quality extra virgin olive oil has been shown in studies to raise HDL by up to 22 mg/dL due to its content of antioxidant polyphenols and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like oleic acid. Replacing butter, margarine or processed vegetable oils with extra virgin olive oil is a tasty way to support HDL.

Avocados The monounsaturated fat content of avocados makes them an HDL superfood. A study in overweight adults found adding one avocado per day to their diet increased HDL by 11 percent compared to their baseline. Avocados also lowered LDL and triglycerides, showing their comprehensive cardiovascular benefits.

Legumes Beans like black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are very high in soluble fiber which specifically targets raising HDL. Black beans increased HDL by 8 percent in a study of type 2 diabetics. Beans also contain niacin and bioactive compounds shown scientifically to boost HDL significantly.

Dark Chocolate The cocoa flavonoids in dark chocolate raise HDL and prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation that can lead to plaque formation in arteries. Studies indicate 2-3 ounces of high cacao dark chocolate per day can improve HDL by 4-5 mg/dL on average. Just be sure to choose a chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa for maximum benefits.

So in summary, the best dietary sources of “good” HDL cholesterol are fatty fish, nuts/seeds, olive oil, avocados, beans and dark chocolate. A balanced diet incorporating these foods along with regular exercise can help maintain higher, cardioprotective HDL cholesterol levels.

Example of (HDL High-Density Lipoprotein) in a Medical or Fitness Context

Here are examples of how “HDL” (High-Density Lipoprotein) might be used in both medical and fitness contexts:

  1. Medical Context:
    • “During the annual checkup, the doctor assessed the patient’s lipid profile, highlighting the importance of high levels of HDL cholesterol for heart health.”
  2. Cardiovascular Health Discussion:
    • “Cardiologists often emphasize the protective role of HDL cholesterol, known as ‘good’ cholesterol, in preventing the buildup of arterial plaque.”
  3. Fitness and Exercise Programs:
    • “Fitness trainers design exercise routines that include aerobic activities to raise HDL levels, contributing to a well-rounded cardiovascular fitness plan.”
  4. Dietary Guidance:
    • “Registered dietitians recommend a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to support elevated HDL levels and promote heart health.”
  5. Health Education:
    • “In health seminars, experts explain how lifestyle choices, including regular physical activity and a balanced diet, can positively impact HDL cholesterol and overall well-being.”

These examples showcase how HDL is discussed and applied in medical settings, fitness programs, dietary guidance, and health education to promote cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart-related issues. Always seek personalized advice from healthcare professionals for your specific health needs.


I'm Genie Ho, your go-to dietitian and wellness advocate. Step into my digital haven where health and vitality take center stage. As a dedicated foodie with a passion for nourishing the body and soul, I'm here to empower you on your journey to wellness. From embracing wholesome ingredients to fostering positive habits, let's navigate the path to a healthier, happier you together. With a finger on the pulse of the latest research and insights, my mission is to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive. Welcome to a world where wellness reigns supreme!