HDL is also known as the good cholesterol. If your total cholesterol is high, it might be that you actually have a lot of healthy HDL cholesterol in your system! That is why it's so critical to get a HDL test along with a total cholesterol test, so that you know exactly what the value of your HDL is.
As confusing as it might seem, a high total cholesterol value is not necessarily bad. What is important is a low LDL value. If you have a high HDL value and a low LDL value, that can still be good overall.
HDL cholesterol is shown by studies to actually keep the arteries clean, helping to drag gunk out of the blood vessels and dropping it off in the liver for processing. It's the 'cleanser' of your blood system.
< 40 mg/dL = too low
40-60 mg/dL = normal
> 60 mg/dL = good levels
As you might expect, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are tied with better heart health in general, fewer heart attacks, etc.
You can raise your HDL levels by exercising regularly and also by drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, especially wine.
On the down side, if you smoke, stop! Smoking reduces your HDL levels, along with the other nasty things it does to your lungs.
An important ratio to know is your Triglycerides / HDL ratio.
< 2.0 - optimal
2.0 - 5.0 - normal
> 5.0 - high
This shows that it is important to keep your HDL levels high, and your triglyceride levels low.
How to Raise your HDL Levels
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Cholesterol Tester - CardioChek Review
Total Cholesterol Information
HDL Cholesterol Information
LDL Cholesterol Information
Triglyceride Cholesterol Information