Top 6 Foods to Increase Good Cholesterol (HDL)

Are you concerned about your cardiovascular health? If you're looking for natural ways to keep your cholesterol levels under control, look no further than this article.
Top 6 Foods to Increase Good Cholesterol (HDL)
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 30 May, 2022

High-density lipoproteins, also known as good cholesterol (HDL), are fatty substances that help remove any excess bad cholesterol (LDL) that has built up in your arteries.

In this article, we’re telling you all about the top six foods to increase good cholesterol.

Clipboard on a doctor's desk with a paper about cholesterol

This type of cholesterol is rich in phospholipids, which attract particles of fat and cholesterol in your arteries and prevent the formation of damaging plaque.

Recommended levels of good cholesterol are between 40 and 60 mg/dl. Unlike other lipids, this type of cholesterol doesn’t pose a health risk if you exceed that amount.

Benefits of Good Cholesterol

Getting plenty of good cholesterol in your diet can have important benefits for your cardiovascular health. Some of the main advantages include the fact that it helps:

  • Remove bad cholesterol (LDL) that builds up in the arteries.
  • Fight atherosclerosis.
  • Prevent heart disease.
  • Prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Enable your body to produce vitamin D and bile. Bile facilitates the digestion of the food you eat.

Foods that Increase Good Cholesterol (HDL)

Overall, eating foods that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids can help increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Before we tell you what foods they are, however, it’s important to note that you may need to make some changes to your diet. This is especially true if you already eat a lot of foods that are high in trans fats and cholesterol.

Without further ado, here are some foods that can help:

1. Nuts

Bowl of nuts on a table

Walnuts, almonds, and other varieties of nuts contain moderate doses of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, two key nutrients that increase and improve your absorption of good cholesterol (HDL).

  • It’s a good idea to eat around seven nuts a day, either plain as a snack or added to your breakfast.

2. Legumes

Healthy legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and lecithin. These increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol.

  • Ideally, you should add them to your diet three times a week. However, you can consume legumes in small portions every day.

3. Olive Oil

Eating olive oil to increase good cholesterol

Extra virgin olive oil that has not be subjected to refining processes contains monounsaturated fatty acids that help control your cholesterol levels.

Its compounds prevent the oxidation of lipids in your arteries and improve the production of good cholesterol to prevent plaque build up.

  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day are enough to get the benefits.
  • You can consume it alone, with some lemon juice, or added to a recipe.

4. Carrots

Vegetables, in general, are very beneficial when it comes to increasing good cholesterol levels. However, carrots stand out thanks to their beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin, and mineral  content .

Overall, these nutrients help cleanse your bloodstream and promote the transport of bad cholesterol from your tissues to the liver. Thus, facilitating its removal.

  • You can add carrots to salads, juices, or smoothies.
  • It’s best to eat carrots at least three times a week.

5. Avocados

Avocados sitting on a table

The nutrients in avocados are excellent for your cardiovascular health.

There are omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and amino acids that work together to improve the function of your liver. Plus, they optimize the use of good cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Regular consumption of avocados improves your production of prostaglandins. These are substances that have vasodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects that help improve your circulation.

  • You can eat an avocado alone or add them to salads and smoothies.
  • For best results, add avocado to your diet at least three times a week.

6. Whole Grains

Variety of different whole grains

Whole grain cereals have large amounts of fiber, fatty acids, and antioxidants that help keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.

Oats, brown rice, and rye flour promote an increase in good cholesterol and help your body eliminate bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

  • We recommend that you consume whole grains every day as part of your main meal or as a snack.

Are you concerned about your cardiovascular health? Do you want to keep your cholesterol levels under control?

Then remember to eat these foods to increase good cholesterol levels. You should also avoid any refined and processed foods, as well as any foods that increase bad cholesterol levels.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Antonio, S. (2013). El colesterol. Article.
  • Quintero, A., & Copca, A. L. (2014). Colesterol “ Bueno y malo ” HDL y LDL. Laboratorio Grupo Químico S.A. de C.V.
  • Associaition, A. H. (2012). Respuestas del corazón.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.