Raising HDL cholesterol

jennMarch 16, 2006

Hubby had a physical last week and all his labs were squeeky clean, except his HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) which was too low. However, his triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol are all excellent (well within the ideal range). He takes no medications, briskly walks about 4 miles most days of the week, and is doing a pretty good job of eating healthy. He eats oat bran on his cereal almost every day. He is working on losing 10 pounds to reach his ideal weight. BP is slightly high (140/?) but he hates going to the doctor so he was nervous.

Does anyone know any tried and true dietary measures that are successful in raising HDL?



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don't worry about it unless he has more tests that show it to be low. It's one thing that seems to go up and down. Wait until he gets his weight down to the desired level and his BP a little lower. It's the ratio between the High and Low that's the important thing. And remember, the test could have been mis-read. There's a good reason why those testing machines have to be re-calibrated about once a month.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 3:55PM
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I found a website for you that discusses the importance of the HDL level. Scroll down to the bottom and it mentions some foods that will help elevate HDL levels.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 7:11PM
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Agnespuffin - Thank you. Actually his HDL/LDL ratio is also very good (in the ideal range). For his age, his blood levels are incredible (except for the HDL). We'll keep an eye on it and see how the results may differ.

Pickyshopper - Thanks so much for looking for a link. He already eats some of those foods but we could greatly increase our fish intake and eat more beans. Oh, that link didn't work but the one below does. Thank you though for posting it. :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Raising HDL cholesterol

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 12:15AM
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If the ratio is good, don't fret about it unless the total range continues to go up. I know that not all doctors agree about this. I once had a reading of 228 and the ration was really, really good. My doctor had a hizzy fit and with a lot of hard work and watching what I ate, I got it down to 204. He wasn't happy with that either for now the ratio was terrible. LOL Sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 11:52AM
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My husband's HDL is 28. His doctor is prescribing 500 mg of niacin. He's also on Lipitor. Is there anything else (non-prescription) that he can take to increase the HDL number?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 7:09AM
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When my HDL got down to 32 my doctor said that he would be prescribing Lipitor if it got to 30. His only advice was to lose weight (isn't it always!) and exercise more.

I went online and googled the question and read through many responses before I found someone, somewhere that mentioned that lifting weights or heavy objects daily had an affect on HDL and so does drinking alcohol. I didn't drink before that (nor did I lift weights). His recommendation was for a man to drink two alcoholic drinks each day and for women to drink one. I don't much care for alcohol but I found a brand of apple cider (hard) that I could stomach. I only drink one each day because I don't think I could take the extra calories. Within 3 months my HDL had improved and now after a year or so it is perfect.

I still don't lift weights.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 11:21AM
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My husband has been on Lipitor for the last 4 years, but this lowering of the HDL was very recent. The doctor prescribed Niaspan yesterday, so we'll see how that works. I've also heard that Omega 3 fatty acids help.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 12:19PM
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cheerful extra virgin olive oil is excellent for raising HDL, I've had low HDL for a long time but a dietician recommended using olive oil for cooking and also in salad dressings and my HDL went from very low to well up into a healthy range. For salads I use Paul Newmans salad dressing with olive oil in it, but I mix it 50/50 with olive oil and use a generous serve on all my salads + the olive oil in the pan when cooking.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 12:20AM
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This may sound like a silly question, but would it make sense to take a straight spoonful of the olive oil?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 7:09AM
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cheerful, if he can stomach it that would work fine, but I would also suggest that you use the olive oil in cooking as well, it's actually better to use olive oil than no oil, especially if he has had a cholesterol problem, because he really needs to get his HDL up and keep it there. he could even try spreading it on some bread to see if he likes it that way. OLive oil has quite a distinct flavour so even on bread it may take some getting used to, when you use it in cooking or mixed with the salad dressing you dont taste it against the other foods.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:11AM
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I just wanted to add too because I just noticed he's been on lipitor for 4 years, is that the other most important thing he needs to do is avoid saturated fat, most cholesterol problems are from too much cholesterol production in the body and when you limit saturated fats, it restricts your body's ability to make it.

If he's not doing this already, he really needs to eat lean meat (all visible fat removed), skinless chicken, fish (if he likes it, personally I hate fish and cant eat it :) ), and only eat low fat dairy products, that's where most saturated fat comes from. Eat grainy breads where you can see the grains in it, and fruit and veg and no take away or junk foods (only on special occasions), but try to avoid them as much as possible.

Dont avoid low fat proteins (like the meat and dairy above) because it can just make things worse, dairy and meat are good for you as long as they are lean and low fat.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 10:11AM
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Thanks for all the advice. He's very concerned about this. I have copies of our bloodwork over the past 2 years. In 2006 his HDL was 50; it's steadily going down.

Ironically, I think he tries to take better care of himself than I do for myself. My HDL has steadily been between 55 and 71. I don't know what I'm doing that he's not. He's on Lipitor, I'm on Vytorin. I'm also on hormone replacement and Boniva.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 10:37AM
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no problem cheerful :)

HDL can be tricky when youre trying to lower your cholesterol because often what happens is you try to cut out all fat and also proteins to lower your chol, but that can really drive your HDL down. that's a trap that I fell into and I think lots of other people do too. I was so frustrated trying to get my chol down and my HDL just went from very low to lower but when I started seeing a dietician I got some excellent advice, and my results really turned around.

There is so much confusing advice out there, a lot of what I learned really surprised me because it was totally different to things I'd read. My husband has always eaten the same things as me and his cholesterol has always been near perfect, except his HDL dropped a bit too but has came back up after we started with the olive oil as well. My chol results are very good now except for the apoB one (which is an additional chol test that not all doctors check) and that's still up a bit, but once that comes down I'll be off the crestor (statin) medication.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 11:11AM
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My husband seems to be having a very bad reaction to the Niaspan. First it was the flushing, which didn't bother him too much. Now he's having muscle pain and weakness, and having trouble standing and breathing. I'm trying to get a hold of his doctor today to see if he should stay on the Niaspan. I'm concerned that it's interacting with the Lipitor he's taking.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 9:08AM
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hi cheerful, I hope you got hold of your doctor, if not ring your pharmacist for advice, they often know a lot more about medications than doctors do since that is their area of expertise. the flushing is fairly common from what I understand but the weakness and breathing is very worrying so get in touch with someone, anyone and find out if he should stop taking it right away.

It's really disappointing that many doctors prescribe these medications without at least trying much less risky methods to achieve the same result but I think this often happens because doctors simply arent aware of alternatives, and prescribing is all they really know how to do.

please let me know how things turn out, but please please contact someone, if you cant get hold of your doctor immediately, contact the pharmacist, ring your local hospital but speak to someone about the reaction he is having, dont wait!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:47AM
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I called the doctor's office and left a detailed message. She should be calling my husband soon. I wanted my husband to stop taking the Niaspan. He was concerned about stopping it cold turkey.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 1:43PM
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I spoke to the doctor today. She said he should stop taking the Niaspan right away. She is prescribing Lovaza, which is a prescription-grade Omega 3 fish oil capsule.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:11AM
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An update: my husband's been on the Lovaza since July 31. His bloodwork last week only shows his HDL going up from 28 to 32. I thought it would have been a lot higher. He has no ill effects from it, so maybe it's going to take a while to take better effect.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 4:56AM
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