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HDL-C

High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL-C) is seen as the 'good' cholesterol (relative to LDL-C). Its job is to bring circulating cholesterol and fatty acids back to the liver tissue and clear them from the blood; high levels are desired to protect the heart.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Feb 6, 2013
Last Updated:

Things To Know & Note

Also Known As

HDL-cholesterol

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect hdl-c
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Very High See all 14 studies
Garlic supplementation tends to increase HDL cholesterol in persons with cardiovascular disease risk reliably and in the range of 10-15% when looking at individual trials and by 1.49mg/dL (95% CI of 0.19-2.79mg/dL) as assessed by meta-analysis.
grade-a Minor Very High See all 27 studies
Mixed evidence, but a possible increase in HDL-C is seen with fish oil supplementation in unhealthy persons
grade-a Minor Moderate See all 12 studies
Unlikely to be potent, either small or no increases in HDL-C are likely to occur after policosanol ingestion. A good deal of the literature is based upon some highly suspicious past research from Cuba
grade-a - Very High See all 17 studies
Although an increase in insulin sensitivity in diabetics should increase HDL cholesterol, the best evidence to date does not support a role for chromium supplementation in improving HDL cholesterol in diabetics.
grade-a - Very High See all 15 studies
While an increase of HDL-C may occur, it is both mild and infrequent so large studies and meta-analyses fail to find reliable evidence for cocoa.
grade-a - Moderate See all 16 studies
Insufficient evidence to support significant influences on HDL-C
grade-a - High See all 13 studies
Similar to other lipid parameters, despite an increase (10-20%) being noted in a few studies the best evidence to date does not support this conclusions and the benefits, when they occur, are unreliable.
grade-b Strong Very High See all 6 studies
Niacin supplementation is currently the major reference for increasing HDL cholesterol concentrations rapidly and reliably, at times being called the Golden Standard for HDL increasing pharmaceuticals.
grade-b Minor Very High See all 4 studies
Degree of improvement was 0.07mmol/L (95% CI 0.04 to 0.10) according to the meta-analysis, not remarkably effective
grade-b Minor Low See all 19 studies
Possible increases in HDL-C
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
Mixed effects with somewhat of an increase, not to a remarkable magnitude
grade-b Minor Very High See all 5 studies
An increase in circulating HDL-C is seen in women with PCOS getting inositol therapy
grade-b Minor Moderate See all 7 studies
The increase in HDL seen with olive phenolics is somewhat inconsistent and not to a large magnitude when it occurs
grade-b Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Similar to the reductions in LDL-C and total cholesterol, the reduction in HDL-C is seemingly small in magnitude and likely not much to be concerned about
grade-b Minor Very High See all 7 studies
A positive influence of spirulina on HDL-C appears to be present, but the magnitude of benefit is not overly remarkable and varies depending on the disease state (with states associated with fatty liver having a much greater increase in HDL-C seen with spirulina)
grade-b - - See all 4 studies
grade-b - High See all 5 studies
Most of the evidence leans towards no significant influence of DHEA on HDL-C levels
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C even at up to 600mg GSE daily in a high risk population
grade-b - Very High See all 6 studies
There is no significant or long lasting effect on HDL cholesterol seen with hesperidin, except maybe a very small (less than 5%) increase in those with the lowest levels of HDL which fades after cessation of supplementation.
grade-b - Very High See 2 studies
No significant changes in HDL cholesterol seen with supplementation
grade-b - - See all 3 studies
grade-b - High See all 4 studies
For the most part, there is no significant direct influence of magnesium on HDL-C levels. Some counter evidence suggests it may occur vicariously through betterment of glycemic control in diabetics, but that is not always seen
grade-b - Very High See all 8 studies
Mild increases have been reported in some cases, but for the most part nigella sativa does not influence HDL cholesterol in the active dosage range.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant alterations in circulating HDL-C are seen with prolonged supplementation of betaine in persons with metabolic impairment.
grade-b - Very High See all 10 studies
No significant influence on HDL cholesterol
grade-b - Very High See all 4 studies
The majority of evidence has failed to find any influence of vitamin E supplementation on HDL total levels or particulates relative to placebo.
grade-c Notable Moderate See 2 studies
There may be an increase in HDL-C in persons with hyperlipidemia that doesn't occur in otherwise healthy adults, but this is not certain due to lack of evidence. The degree of increase was fairly strong (24%).
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
Although one study suggest no such increase (healthy persons), the increase seen in hyperlipidemics exceeded 50% and was remarkable; requires replication
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase in HDL-C has been noted with ingestion of ephedrine, may be confounded with weight loss also seen in the trials
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in HDL-C has been associated with fenugreek ingestion
grade-c Minor - See study
May increase HDL-C levels
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Either no significant change associated with Guggul supplementation or a small decrease is observed
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase has been noted, but not to a remarkable degree. Independent trials need to be conducted to confirm.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
May increase HDL-C levels, seems unreliable in doing so
grade-c Minor - See study
In hypercholesterolemic adults not on cholesterol lowering medication, pterostilbene appears to reduce HDL mildly.
grade-c Minor - See study
Not overly potent, only testing in menopausal women has been conducted
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Although there are possible increases in HDL-C with punicic acid, this has not been noted all the time and may be unreliable
grade-c Minor - See 2 studies
An increase in HDL-C has been noted following quercetin supplementation
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Increases HDL-C in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease to a small amount, does not appear effective in otherwise healthy persons
grade-c Minor - See study
Minor increase in HDL-C has been detected in persons after shilajit consumption
grade-c - - See 2 studies
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
There does not appear to be an inherent effect of Artichoke on HDL-C, although the one study in diabetics suggest that HDL-C might increase when glucose is decreased.
grade-c - Very High See all 4 studies
A fairly notable increase in HDL-C has been reported with ashwagandha supplementation (17.3% over 60 days), however, the evidence is inconsistent and inadequate overall.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influences on HDL-C observed.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences on HDL cholesterol noted
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C concentrations
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
A possible benefit in hyperlipidemics only has failed to reach statistical significance.
grade-c - - See 2 studies
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences yet known for HDL cholesterol
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No detectable influences on HDL cholesterol, although rice bran oil (a source of gamma oryzanol) may have a slight positive effect
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in HDL cholesterol noted following consumption of GCE
grade-c - - See study
HDL appears unaffected
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL cholesterol levels
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No detectable differences in HDL-C levels
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
HDL cholesterol appears to be unaffected following roselle ingestion
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C in otherwise healthy lean persons
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence of licorice on HDL
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences on HDL-C are noted with melatonin supplementation
grade-c - - See study
Despite reductions in LDL and total cholesterol, there do not appear to be significant influences on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C with PS supplementation
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL cholesterol
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant alteration of HDL-C concentrations has been noted with limited evidence investigating rose hip supplementation.
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influences on HDL-C detectable
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
HDL-C appears to be unaffected with chia ingestion when compared to similar macronutrient sources
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on circulating HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C has been detected with stevia
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence of theaflavins on HDL-C
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C levels in serum of obese subjects
grade-c - - See study
Vitamin K does not appear capable of influencing HDL cholesterol
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
No significant evidence to support an increase in HDL-C with whey protein
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on HDL cholesterol has been noted with Yacon syrup, despite weight loss occurring.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C, even when normalizing a zinc deficiency associated with weight loss.
grade-d Notable - See study
Needs to be replicated in larger trials, but the degree of increase was quite remarkable.
grade-d Notable - See study
A fairly notable increase in HDL-C (23%) in the lone (but not placebo controlled) study with ruscus aculeatus, requires replication
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in HDL-C is noted with coffee ingestion
grade-d Minor - See study
Higher doses of the fruits (3g) appear to be able to increase circulating HDL cholesterol in otherwise healthy persons and diabetics
grade-d Minor - See study
Administration of purified MCTs results in a decrease in HDL-C in diabetics that is minor and likely not practically relevant.
grade-d Minor Moderate See 2 studies
May increase HDL cholesterol, but has mixed evidence to support it and may be unreliable
grade-d Minor - See study
A slight increase in HDL-C has been noted with safflower oil
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in HDL-C has been noted to be secondary to treating cholestasis
grade-d Minor Low See all 3 studies
An increase in HDL cholesterol has been noted with TTA consumption
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in HDL-C has been noted with Mate consumption
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C detected
grade-d - - See study
No detectable influence on HDL-C cholesterol
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on HDL-C levels associated with horse chestnut extract supplementation.
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study
No detectable influence on HDL-C levels
grade-d - - See study
Three weeks supplementation of PQQ has failed to significantly influence HDL cholesterol levels in otherwise healthy adults.
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence of the berries on HDL cholesterol levels in men who are otherwise healthy.
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
No apparent effect
grade-d - - See study
No significant changes in people with hyperglycemia
grade-d - - See study
No change in HDL-C was seen in vitamin D-insufficient healthy people supplemented with 800 IU over 12 weeks.