Health Sachet No 287:

One of the long held beliefs about heart health is HDL, or the ‘Good’ cholesterol, is helpful in lowering the heart attack risk.

Recent research shows no benefit. People with 10% higher HDL should show 13% reduced risk of heart attacks. But they found no improvement.

MIT’s Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital wrote:

It has been said that high HDL correlates with low risk of heart attacks. But the new research shows that the relationship is not causal (if you find A is high when B is low, it does not mean that high A is causing low B. It could some other factor C that may be causing B low, while also leading to high A). So there is a big question mark on taking medications to increase HDL.

On the other hand, non-medicinal ways to increase HDL are still advised because they help multiple bio-markers of heart health: lowering LDL or bad cholesterol, lowering inflammation, etc. Some of the ways are:

  • Exercise More: Vigorous exercise boosts HDL. But any exercise is better than none.
  • Lose weight: An overweight person can raise HDL by simply losing 10% of the current weight
  • Avoid trans fats: These artificial fats are found in many baked goods and fried fast foods. Eating them lowers HDL and raises LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  • Reduce refined carbohydrates: Reduce processed carbs, such as sugars, maida and white breads.
  • Reconsider taking medications only for improving HDL.
  • Exercise more and lose weight.
  • Reduce trans fats and refined carbohydrates