What is HDL-C?

HDL-C stands for High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. It is often referred to as "good" cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can cause atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). HDL-C carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is processed and removed from the body. Having high levels of HDL-C is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, while low levels of HDL-C are associated with an increased risk.

Note: HDL-C is known as "good" cholesterol because of its anti-atherogenic effects (which prevent plaque from clogging arteries), but high HDL-C can result in negative cardiovascular outcomes, too.

Why is it included in the Cardiovascular Axis?

HDL-C levels provide another measurement of an individual’s risk of a cardiovascular event. While not as strong an indicator as apolipoprotein B (apo B) or LDL-C, HDL provides valuable context to your cardiovascular health. The ratio of triglycerides to HDL is one particularly valuable marker with high levels indicating risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. For these reasons, HDL is included in SiPhox Health's base panel.

How can I better understand my results?

  • Abnormally low: < 20 mg/dL (may indicate severe hypertriglyceridemia)
  • Worrisome: < 40 mg/dL (may indicate diabetes or coronary heart disease)
  • Excellent: > 60 mg/dL (protective against heart disease)
  • Elevated: > 80 mg/dL
  • Abnormally high: > 100 mg/dL (higher risk of heart disease)

 If your HDL-C levels are on the lower side, you can try:

  • Eat more fruits, veggies, omega-3 rich foods (walnuts, wild salmon, chia seeds), foods high in soluble fiber (whole grains, legumes)
  • Avoid animal fats, saturated fats, and salt
  • Moderate- to high-intensity exercise (aim for 150 minutes of moderate- or 75 minutes of high-intensity per week)
  • Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
  • Avoid smoking and vaping
  • Manage your blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Drinking wine in moderation has been shown to increase HDL

Certain medications can boost or lower HDL-C, so it is important to consult with your physician if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels.

    Where can I learn more?

    Cleveland Clinic - What to Know about HDL Cholesterol

    UMass Chan Medical School - Raising your Level of HDL