Harvard Men's Health Watch

Is "good" cholesterol still good for you?

New research questions the benefit of drugs to raise HDL, but lifestyle steps to boost good cholesterol are still recommended.

One of the fundamentals of heart-healthy living is that if your LDL (bad) cholesterol is high, you need to take steps to lower it. After all, bad cholesterol contributes to artery-clogging plaque deposits. On the flip side, doctors encourage us to also raise our HDL (good) cholesterol. That's because people with high HDL tend to be at lower risk of heart disease.

The HDL story became more complicated after findings from a recent Harvard study. Researchers pooled health information on more than 116,000 people genetically predisposed to produce higher-than-normal amounts of HDL. Surprisingly, this group did not show the predicted 13% lower risk of heart attack, which undermined the rationale for prescribing drugs to boost HDL.

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