A high level of “good” HDL cholesterol is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular risk. On the other hand, is it possible to have a HDL cholesterol level that is too high? This is still a controversial issue. Some research shows a U-shaped relationship between HDL cholesterol and mortality, with low or high levels of HDL cholesterol being associated with an increased risk of death. A very high level of HDL cholesterol is most often caused by genetic factors. In rare situations, it may be caused by other factors such as certain medications, long-term alcohol abuse, estrogen replacement therapy or high levels of aerobic exercise (endurance sports). There is no particular approach to managing a very high HDL cholesterol level. It is important to consider all factors that influence heart health including LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, inflammation, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and one’s lifestyle habits.
To do this, limit fried foods, red meats as well as commercial pastries and choose low-fat dairy products.
Good unsaturated fats are found in various foods including nuts, seeds, avocados, fish and olive oil. It is recommended to eat foods rich in omega-3 every day. These include flaxseed and chia seeds, walnuts, fatty fish (salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines), seaweed, organic canola oil, flaxseed oil and camelina oil.
Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grain products. In Europe, it is recommended to consume 30g of fiber per day. In Canada, fiber requirements are set at 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. According to Health Canada, most Canadians consume only half of these fiber amounts. A high intake of soluble fiber helps to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oatmeal, flaxseed and chia seeds, legumes, edamame, barley, psyllium and some pectin-rich fruits (bananas, oranges, strawberries, apples, pears, etc.).