How do I increase my HDL?

I guess one question is whether it’s really even necessary, but my employer does an annual health risk assessment (they actually bring in a vender for it). My total cholesterol is dang-near perfect at 135, by my HDL is at 21. I’ve read mixed information on whether that ratio is really important, and my GP isn’t too worried about it.

Just wondering if anyone has any insight into some long term ways to boost HDL without affecting my other cholesterol numbers.

You likely would not be able to raise your HDL without raising your total cholesterol, since doing so would require simultaneously lowering your LDL (which seems like it’s already low) as your HDL goes up. However, if you raised your HDL and that contributed to your total cholesterol going up a little, that would likely be considered a positive thing, since total is less important than the broken down stats, and besides, your total could go up a bit and still be relatively low. Exercising and eating more healthy fats (or taking them as supplements) can increase HDL some. If you’re eating very low fat, that might be a culprit.


Exercise, losing weight, and an occasional drink (which might be the easiest of all 3…).

No, I am not making up that last one.


I believe that exercise can also help increase HDL, especially weight training exercise. My HDL has never been considered low, but I know that it is always higher when I am a lot more active.

That’s right, I had noticed alcohol can help with HDL. I’m not a big drinker (I hate spending that much money on a beverage), but I wouldn’t mind a trip to the liquor store to see what they offer.

I’m definitely not low fat, but I probably eat more meat fats than anything, so some olive oil and coconut oil wouldn’t hurt.

@Adam_W – You haven’t mentioned your triglyceride level… The Triglyceride/HDL Cholesterol Ratio - Axel F. Sigurdsson, MD

Triglycerides: 130

The ratios are similar either way, and I’m not sure how much lower I can get the TG number. It seems if I could get my HDL up to around 33 or 34, without raising TG or LDL significantly. Considering I would likely see a rise in both if I raised HDL, 50 seems a reasonable goal.
I’m going to implement some minor dietary changes (olive oil on my salads, for example) that should help. Further cutting carbs (I’m not exactly Keto, but I’m pretty lo-carb at between 80-100 g per day) should help.

You’re missing the easiest (and cheapest) way to raise HDL: purchase a very high-quality Omega-3 fish oil and take a teaspoon or two in the morning. It has the added benefit of lowering triglycerides (in most people) if taken at a “therapeutic dose” (of 2-4 g). I use Nordic Naturals lemon flavored Omega-3. Does a trick, and isn’t nearly as nasty as it sounds.

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You are right, I forgot to mention that.

I use Udo’s Choice Oil 3.6.9 Blend.

It’s a blend of flax, sesame, and sunflower seed oils. Tastes fine, the only thing to watch out for is if you drink too much of it you will have bathroom issues.

Well hey, cheap and easy works for me.

My doctors always congratulated me on a very low cholesterol panel (116/32). Turns out I had celiac disease and I was malnourished. Anemia, no gut issues was my only symptom. Consider researching this disease which is strongly linked to TD1 and autoimmune thyroiditis. Low cholesterol can be just as bad as high.

I was a triathlete, and I exercised a lot and it made no impact on my low cholesterol numbers. Now, I am on a HFLC diet and my HDL is normal (over 50), overall is around 175 and my triglycerides dropped once my started to absorb foods properly and I reduced carbs. I still exercise a lot for my age.


I’ll admit I’m looking into the low numbers. I’ve actually read conflicting information, but it seems ch that’s too low is a problem. While it may not lead to “heart disease”, it seems to lead to a higher mortality rate.

After following ADA guidelines for a few weeks after dx last spring (I was trying to get my feet back underneath me, metaphorically), I dumped it and started looking more high fat and low carb. For lunch I’ll usually have the bulk of my daily carbs. I should probably be more detailed bout my approach than I am, though.