HDL Cholesterol

What is HDL cholesterol?

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol helps return LDL cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the body. In healthy people, healthy levels of HDL cholesterol are thought to lower the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke. The HDL test is usually done as part of a larger lipid panel that includes at least total cholesterol, LDL or non-HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Why test HDL cholesterol?

Unless this is ordered as a retest or for a specific reason, we recommend ordering this as part of a health test.

Health Check
Discover your risk factors for lifestyle diseases in time to do something about them.

Health History
You have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.

Smoking, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy diet all increase the risk of heart disease.

HDL should be checked regularly if a previous test has indicated an increased risk of heart disease.

What causes low HDL cholesterol?

Very low cholesterol can indicate inflammatory processes in the body. Genetic conditions, consumption of hydrogenated fats, smoking, and health conditions from insulin resistance and high blood pressure to obesity have been shown to lower HDL cholesterol.

Very low HDL may be a sign of lack of exercise and may be associated with hyperthyroidism, heavy metals, atherosclerosis, and fatty liver in healthy individuals. In healthy people, HDL cholesterol on the lower side may increase heart disease risk.

What causes high HDL cholesterol?

High HDL cholesterol is most often caused by genetic factors that alter the way HDL works in the body and can increase the risk of heart disease. The significance of higher HDL cholesterol is controversial. Higher than normal HDL cholesterol was once thought to be beneficial, but newer research suggests that it may not be beneficial for everyone.  In healthy people, HDL cholesterol on the higher side confers health benefits such as lower heart disease risk.  However, higher than normal HDL cholesterol has also been associated with several autoimmune processes.

For optimal protection against cardiovascular disease, the HDL cholesterol test must be analysed in conjunction with LDL (or total cholesterol), and triglycerides. Studies suggest that higher HDL (40 mg/dL or higher) helps reduce cardiovascular disease only when LDL and triglycerides are low (100 mg/dL or less).  One study found that when LDL and triglycerides rise above 100 mg/dL or 150 mg/DL, respectively, higher HDL has no effect on outcomes.

In case of an HDL level that is outside the reference range, we advise our clients to visit a doctor for medical advice and to consult a Nordic Wellth practitioner for dietary, lifestyle and supplementation advice and support.

More information

Values that are slightly outside the reference range can be normal. Reference ranges are not perfect and approximately 5% of healthy individuals may have results outside the reference range.


No advance preparation is needed for this test.

On the Day

Remember to take I.D. with you when going to take a test.

Arrive in good time and sit down quietly for 15 minutes before the test is taken.

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