Effects of diet on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2011 Dec;13(6):453-60. doi: 10.1007/s11883-011-0207-y.


Multiple dietary factors have been shown to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentrations, and HDL-C has been inversely associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. Replacement of dietary carbohydrate with polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat has been associated with progressively greater increases in HDL-C (7-12%) in addition to other lipid changes. Added sugars, but not high glycemic carbohydrates, have been associated with decreased HDL-C. Alcohol consumption has been associated with increased HDL-C (9.2%) independent of changes in other measured lipids. Modest effects on HDL-C (~4-5%) among other lipid and non-lipid CHD risk factors have also been observed with weight loss by dieting, omega-3 fatty acids, and a Mediterranean diet pattern. The CHD benefit of increasing HDL-C is unclear given the inconsistent evidence from HDL-raising pharmacologic trials. Furthermore, pleiotropic effects of diet preclude attribution of CHD benefit specifically to HDL-C. Investigation into functional or other properties of HDL may lend further insight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3