HDL cholesterol is the well-behaved "good cholesterol." This friendly scavenger cruises the bloodstream. As it does, it removes harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn't belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease and but low levels increase the risk of heart disease.
Each bit of HDL cholesterol is a microscopic blob that consists of a rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol center. The HDL cholesterol particle is dense compared to other types of cholesterol particles, so it's called high-density.
Main Function of HDL:
- HDL cholesterol scavenges and removes LDL -- or "bad" --cholesterol.
- HDL reduces, reuses, and recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it can be reprocessed.
- HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls (endothelium) of blood vessels. Damage to the inner walls is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes.
HDL is a protein made by the body. Like LDL, HDL is not actually a component of food. It is made by the body, and is primarily genetically determined. However, individuals also have the potential to improve their HDL.
Fish! The intake of several fish meals per week has been observed to significantly increase HDL cholesterol, even over short amount of time. Choose the fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, swordfish, etc.
Alcohol. Yes, alcohol (particularly red wine) has been known to increase HDL cholesterol, in moderation only.