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Why too much “good” cholesterol could actually be bad for you


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Photo: Stocksy/Darren Muir

Sorry folks, but apparently it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

While docs typically praise patients for having sky-high levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, AKA HDL), a new study has shown that excessively high levels could put you at an increased risk of death.

Foods like whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts are known for helping people reach healthy HDL levels, which generally means a number of 60 or more. In fact, the rule of thumb was the more, the better: Study after study has shown higher levels of HDL reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death—so the most recent findings are a major about-face.

“It appears that we need to remove the focus from HDL as an important health indicator in research, at hospitals, and at the general practitioner.”

In the latest study, researchers analyzed data from 116,000 subjects and found that the women with high levels of HDL had a mortality rate 68 percent higher than those with normal levels. Men with high levels, on the other hand, had a 106 percent higher mortality rate. Those with extremely low levels of HDL also faced an increased risk of death—something that was previously known.

Though the findings need to be substantiated by other studies finding similar results, since the results contradict what was previously believed about HDLs, health-care professionals may need to reevaluate how they help patients.

“It appears that we need to remove the focus from HDL as an important health indicator in research, at hospitals, and at the general practitioner,” Børge Nordestgaard, professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Copenhagen (and one of the study’s authors), told Science Daily. “These are the smallest lipoproteins in the blood, and perhaps we ought to examine some of the larger ones instead.”

So, just like with drinks per week, it might be best to take a page out of Goldilocks’ book and seek moderation to keep your body at its healthiest.

Another good tip: Eat these five foods when IBS is taking over your life, but be careful with the fermented stuff—it could make you feel tipsy!

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