What is HDL-C?
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are vehicles for transporting cholesterol in the bloodstream. HDL transfers cholesterol away from the vasculature and brings it to the liver, which is why it is referred to as “good cholesterol”.
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, 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.
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 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?