The abbreviation HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein, which translates as "high-density lipoprotein". Lipoproteins are substances that consist of lipids (fats) and proteins (proteins). Since these form a sphere in the blood, they can transport various substances.
In the sphere, the hydrophobic (ie the water-insoluble) constituents of the HDL point into the interior, the hydrophilic (water-soluble) constituents form the shell. In this way, lipoproteins can primarily transport water-insoluble substances inside the blood.
As an antagonist of LDL (low density lipoprotein), HDL is the so-called "good" cholesterol, protecting the body from many cardiovascular diseases.
Above all, HDL has positive effects on the metabolism of the body, therefore there is no fixed upper limit for the HDL value.
Instead, it has found a lower limit below which there is an increased risk of heart attacks, atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. This lower limit is generally 40 mg / dl.
However, there are slight differences in the risk profile for men and women, which is why HDL levels should not fall below 35 mg / dl in men. In women it should be over 45 mg / dl.
It is also known that an HDL value above 65 mg / dl has a particularly positive and protective effect on the cardiovascular system.
Furthermore, the general rule of thumb is that if the HDL level increases by 1 mg / dL, the risk of having a heart attack decreases by about 1%.
The lipoprotein HDL is well suited to transport non-water-soluble (hydrophobic) substances in the blood. The HDL trains small transport balls, which are usually filled with fats or fat-soluble (lipophilic) substances.
HDL is the "good" cholesterol. It is responsible for delivering harmful cholesterol from the body's cells back to the liver. As an antagonist of LDL, HDL protects the human body from the harmful effects of cholesterol.
Cholesterol settles, for example, in the vessels, triggers local inflammatory reactions there and leads to the deposition of plaques. This leads to a calcification of the vessels (see: arteriosclerosis).
This may in particular also affect the vessels that supply the heart with nutrients (coronary vessels). Therefore, increased cholesterol increases the risk of having a heart attack.
HDL now ensures that as much of this harmful cholesterol is transported from the vessels and other cells back to the liver, where it is broken down and excreted via the bile.
Thus, HDL has, above all, a protective effect on the heart and the vessels.
Since HDL is referred to as the "good" cholesterol and carries cholesterol from all body cells back to the liver, a high HDL value is considered positive.
The higher the HDL level, the better the vessels are protected from dangerous fatty deposits.
These fat deposits are made up of cholesterol. They trigger inflammatory reactions on the vessel walls. There, other cells are washed ashore, which also attach to the vessel wall. As a result, the vessel becomes narrower and there is a reduced blood flow behind the constriction.
Particularly dangerous are the deposits in the area of the coronary arteries. These supply the heart muscles with oxygen and other nutrients. If the vessels are narrowed, the heart is not sufficiently supplied. This can lead to a heart attack.
These negative effects are mainly caused by the antagonist of HDL, LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Simply increasing the HDL value protects the body from these negative effects.
However, the HDL value should always be considered in the context of the LDL value. Because only a simultaneously low LDL value promises a low overall risk for cardiovascular diseases.
HDL protects our blood vessels from cholesterol deposits, which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attacks, vascular calcifications and circulatory disorders. This is done by using HDL to transport harmful cholesterol from vessels and other body cells to the liver where it can be broken down and excreted.
The reverse effect has the LDL. This is also a transport protein, which transports the cholesterol from the liver into the body cells and thus increases the risk of cholesterol deposits.
Therefore, the HDL value should always be considered in relation to the LDL value. Basically, the lower the HDL, the less protection against cholesterol deposits.
Therefore, a low HDL level is also considered to be a risk marker for myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, and other vascular diseases, regardless of the level of LDL levels.
In summary, a low HDL level can lead to vascular damage, circulatory disorders and heart disease.
In a blood sample, the total cholesterol is usually measured, which is composed of the HDL and LDL. The HDL / LDL quotient provides information about the distribution of cholesterol in the body.
HDL is the "good" cholesterol, while LDL is the "bad" cholesterol because it carries these substances from the liver to the other tissues. This increases the risk of diseases of the cardiovascular system.
For this reason, it is better if the body has more HDL and less LDL available. A ratio of LDL to HDL below 4 is within the normal range. So should be at most four times as much LDL as HDL in the body.
A higher ratio would lead to too little HDL for too much LDL and harm the body accordingly. Conversely, a lower ratio has a positive effect.
A high HDL level is desirable because the HDL protects our cardiovascular system from dangerous fatty deposits.
The HDL value can be increased in a variety of ways. It is well known that a combination of measures works best.
Physical activity generally helps the body to lose fat and build muscle.
Fat loss requires a lot of HDL, which above all transports cholesterol from the tissue back to the liver.
Especially endurance sports such as jogging, cycling, Nordic walking and hiking are well suited. They go hand in hand with a consistent and continuous pattern of movement and are therefore more suitable for increasing HDL than sports with different levels of stress and peak performance.
Conscious nutrition can also affect HDL levels. Therefore, care should be taken to take less animal products. These contain many saturated fatty acids, which rather harm the body.
Instead, herbal nutrients make sense. For example, butter should be replaced with margarine. Instead of cooking fat on an animal basis, vegetable oils should be used.
Smoking and alcohol consumption also have a negative influence on the HDL value and should therefore be avoided.
If these measures are not effective, the HDL value can also be adjusted by medication. Statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs, see eg simvastatin) are used for this. The body is made to break down more cholesterol, which requires a lot of HDL. This causes the body to make a lot of HDL.
HDL itself is not included in the foods and can not be absorbed through food. Instead, there are plenty of foods that help the body increase "good" cholesterol, which is HDL. Especially suitable are foods that contain many unsaturated fatty acids.
The unsaturated fatty acids include, for example, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are increasingly contained in fish, nuts, legumes and seeds. In addition, vegetable fats tend to contain more unsaturated fatty acids.
In contrast, saturated fatty acids are mostly found in animal fats.
In order to bring the body to increased HDL production, therefore, vegetable fats (oils, margarines, nuts, etc.) should be used.
Furthermore, vitamin C and vitamin E have a positive effect on the HDL level. These vitamins are contained in many fruits. Both vitamins are antioxidants. Thus, they counteract the "bad" cholesterol LDL and support the HDL in the body.