Low LDL (good) cholesterol


I did a finger prick cholersterol test, posted it off and I got my results back today. They are as follows:

Triglycides = 1.4 (normal range)
HDL = 1.0 (just outside normal range)
LDL = 2.6 (normal range)
Total cholesterol = 4.2 (normal range)
Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio = 4.2 (just outside normal range)

I’m currently consuming 2 generous scoops of Huel for breakfast and 2 scoops of hot and savoury 2/3 times a week for lunch. The rest of my diet is a mix of healthy and not very healthy stuff!

Thankfully I didn’t have a high reading for the bad cholesterol but the good cholesterol is a little low.
Apparently good soures of LDL are: whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and avocados.

Was it naive of me to assume that eating the above amount of Huel would provide the neccessary amount of good cholesterol? Would having a hot & savoury for lunch everyday make up the deficiency or do I have to improve my diet further? (boo!) I actually eat A LOT of olive oil so found the results quite surprising.

Lastly, how accurate are these tests anwyay? I’ve been reading that ‘milking’ the finger can skew the results. Can anyone shed light on that?


“Normal” means that it is something you’d expect in a population. We live in a sick population, so a reading of 2.6 mmol/L for LDL is not good.

That’s hardly a lot of Huel, so the “problem” will be in the rest of what you eat.

Not very accurate. You’d need to take the test several times, let the finger bleed for a bit, gently wipe it off, and then take the sample without squeezing the finger. It’s much better to get a sample from the vein instead.

In all honesty I wouldn’t stress about it. There have been lots of conflicting research studies into cholesterol levels over the years and there still doesn’t seem to be any definitive answers. In the related Wikipedia page for hypercholesterolemia you will also see this:

Diet has an effect on blood cholesterol, but the size of this effect varies between individuals. Moreover, when dietary cholesterol intake goes down, production (principally by the liver) typically increases, so that blood cholesterol changes can be modest or even elevated. This compensatory response may explain hypercholesterolemia in anorexia nervosa. A 2016 review found tentative evidence that dietary cholesterol is associated with higher blood cholesterol. Trans fats have been shown to reduce levels of HDL while increasing levels of LDL. LDL and total cholesterol also increases by very high fructose intake.

As of 2018 there appears to be a modest positive, dose-related relationship between cholesterol intake and LDL cholesterol.

So it’s not clear how much cholesterol levels are influenced by diet and how much by genetics and it will vary between individuals. You will also see that an awful lot of articles reference a correspondence between higher total or LDL cholesterol and heart disease. There isn’t enough conclusive evidence for causation. There’s a lot of debate about whether high cholesterol is a significant contributory factor in increased risk of heart attack with some studies suggesting it could increase risk by 1 in 200, again no definitive numbers. Statins are the most commonly prescribed drug in the developed world but there’s little evidence to show that reducing cholesterol is having much effect on incidence of heart disease. There are too many other factors that also correlate (inactivity, obesity, poor nutrition) that it’s almost impossible to look at any one in isolation.

Cholesterol management has become highly commercialised and it’s a cheap, mass market way to keep a steady income stream for drug companies whilst making people think they are actively improving their health.

I’m not saying don’t look at improving your diet if a lot of it is unhealthy (high sugar, low nutrients) but I’d suggest to keep it in perspective and not get too hung up on cholesterol levels.

Thanks for sharing @Osteology. I agree with @rikefrejut they’re not super accurate. I wouldn’t worry too much about your HDL as results are really mixed if low levels are a negative. Most of your diet isn’t made up of Huel so if you’re looking for improvements you could look there.

There’s not really food sources of LDL. Increasing your fat intake, particularly saturated fat, will increase your LDL. Fibre has the opposite effect and swapping out saturated fat with unsaturated fat also appears to decrease LDL. So, as you’ve suggested whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil are good foods to include in your diet and they are overall good for health too.

There’s conflicting research in some places Carly (like HDL) but LDL and statins are pretty definitive (see source 1, source 2, source 3) There is a fringe group trying to muddy the waters.

Yeap, I like this summary!

I agree there’s pretty robust data to support that taking statins reduces cholesterol. What’s less clear is to what extent lower cholesterol impacts the likelihood of heart disease, heart attack or stroke in individuals with no previous history of heart attack. There have been conflicting studies here and a quick google search brings up studies supporting both sides of the debate:


More recent studies 2019/2020 seem to be moving towards more in depth analysis of existing data to gain more insights and it’s interesting to see how that will pan out. There’s a lack of reliable data on side effect incidence and severity versus absolute risk reduction of cardiac events so at this stage it’s impossible to definitively say that taking statins to reduce cholesterol has a positive risk reduction in the majority of individuals.

As I said, there has been a decline in mortality from heart attacks, but what percentage is due to statins vs. reduction in smoking, improvement in diet and better monitoring/treatment options isn’t completely clear cut.

I think overall we agree though that dietary improvements are never a bad thing! I’m just wary of the high levels of statin prescription giving a false sense of security. “I’ve lowered my cholesterol so I’m not going to have a heart attack”

This is the issue with a quick google search though. DuBroff and Malholtra are both well-known cholesterol skeptics and they base their conclusions on cherry-picked, and incorrectly analysed data.

The sources I’ve linked to above answer the queries you’ve raised. I’m confident in saying there is not a lack of reliable data. We’ve also got to look at it as the level of risk and the whole population - most people who smoke don’t get lung cancer for example. We’ve also got studies that use genetics to help rule out other factors such as smoking e.g. source

Totally agree which is why those on statins are also given dietary advice as part of their treatment.

Thanks everyone for the replies. Interesting stuff. Hope I haven’t opened a can of worms! :grinning:

@rikefrejut I forgot to add that my test was non-fasting. Is my score still bad as per the US guidelines?

Rather than caring about some score, you should think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to reduce the probability of having a heart attack or stroke as much as possible? Then you have some lifestyle changes ahead of you.

Regarding the cholesterol good/bad discussion, my take on it is this: High cholesterol is an indicator of something being wrong as opposed to being the actual cause of things being wrong.

If you lower your cholesterol using statins, it’s probably a good thing but not necessarily all that helpful (I’m not convinced by the science yet, but am not denying it). This is the equivalent of putting a non-transparent sticker over the engine-failure status light in your car and pretending everything is fine.

If you lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes, then you’ve already made lots of other improvements to other parts of your life that will definitely have positive health effects. This is the equivalent of actually getting your engine fixed as opposed to just disabling the warning light.

Huel can be a part of getting high cholesterol under control, but one should not view it as some sort of checkbox and be done with it. Getting to a healthy weight, stopping smoking, stopping/reducing alcohol consumption, exercising more, managing stress, etc. are still necessary even if you eat 100% Huel diet.

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