How to improve your HDL Cholesterol

October 19, 2018

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A significant portion of the United States, nearly 25%, have low HDL cholesterol levels. Low HDL levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, while higher HDL levels show lower instances of cardiac disease. HDL cholesterol is so important to our health, as HDL removes LDL cholesterol from the walls of your arteries. Therefore, it is extremely important to have high levels of HDL. Let’s look at the ways to increase HDL levels.



There are a couple of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your HDL levels. The two most impactful appear to be high-intensity exercise and adopting a ketogenic diet.

Numerous studies have shown that different types of exercise are effective tools to raise HDL levels within the body. These types of exercise include strength training, high-intensity  exercise, and aerobic exercise. Of the different types of exercises observed in the studies, it appears that HDL levels increase most with high-intensity workouts such a high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The improvement in HDL produced by the body appears to change with the amount of stress the body is under when exercising. Now, if you want to move from workouts and improve your HDL ratios into an even better ratio we’ll begin with your diet.

The first, and most intense change, would come from switching to a ketogenic diet. A study showed that those suffering from insulin resistance and diabetes were able to improve their HDL levels by a significant margin over those who did not follow a ketogenic diet, controlling for any weight-loss during the program. In another study, which wasn’t solely focused on keto, the study found those who consumed a high amount of meats and cheeses, and low carbs increased their HDL levels by 5-8% compared to those on a high carb diet.



If you’re not quite ready to make a full-on dive into keto there are still dietary changes that one can make to improve their HDL levels. Let’s look at three of them which, we believe, are the easiest to implement.

First, the consumption of purple vegetables appears to improve HDL levels. The purple found in vegetables is produced by an antioxidant called anthocyanin. In two different studies anthocyanins were found to increase HDL levels by 19% and 13.7% . These studies did use an extract of anthocyanins; however, it is likely that the vegetables would produce a similar, but less dramatic, rise in HDL levels.

A second way to improve HDL ratio within the body is by consuming fatty fish loaded with healthy fats. Consuming these types of fish, such as wild salmon and cod, were found to increase HDL levels within the body in addition to providing the benefits of omega-3.

Finally, and perhaps most effective, is to use healthy oils. Studies have found that increasing the consumption of olive oil, coconut oil, and MCT oil all improved HDL levels considerably. While all three of these oils are quite effective at increasing HDL within the body, it has been shown that MCT and coconut oils have a more dramatic impact on weight management than olive oil. While all three oils are amazing to incorporate into your daily life, if you had to choose one, MCT oil would probably provide most individuals the best results when it comes to overall health.

Improving cholesterol within the body is a personal choice and one that, with discipline, can be achieved. As we discussed earlier cholesterol is not our enemy but is a necessary nutrient that must be taken care of and managed properly. Reducing the intake of vegetable oils, not smoking, and removing trans fats from our diet, while also adopting the healthy guidelines listed above will get your HDL improving and LDL dropping to safe levels in a reasonable amount of time.

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