Indian cuisine is a great way to enjoy rich flavours without sacrificing healthy cholesterol levels. The problem occurs when people overconsume these dishes. Too much cholesterol is bad for your health, but some HDL cholesterol is necessary for overall wellness. 

Continue reading to find out how to increase HDL cholesterol with Indian foods.

HDL Cholesterol: An Overview

Cholesterol is a waxy substance necessary for your body to build cell membranes and create specific vitamins and hormones. However, having too much cholesterol can be problematic. LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and HDL cholesterol (the good kind) are the two types of cholesterol. The risk for cardiovascular diseases increases with excess LDL cholesterol and low HDL one.

HDL and LDL are two types of lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat (lipid) and protein.

HDL cholesterol has a high protein and low-fat content, making it very dense. Hence it is called “high-density” lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol is good as it carries excess cholesterol from the blood to the liver. Therefore, it protects against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, it possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Furthermore, it helps shield arterial walls from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol and protects cells and vital chemicals in the blood and tissues from being damaged.

How to Raise HDL Cholesterol With Indian Foods?

Here are some nutritious foods to raise HDL cholesterol, recommended by nutritionists.


Fenugreek or methi seeds can lower LDL cholesterol levels by decreasing the liver’s production of cholesterol and its absorption in the intestine. A study shows that fenugreek supplementation significantly reduced triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increased HDL levels in people with diabetes more effectively. 

Research shows sesame and its lignans induce beneficial changes in risk factors related to cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, the effects of pumpkin, sunflower, and basil seeds on HDL cholesterol levels have been remarkably positive.


1. Pistachio

Pistachio nuts can help increase high-density lipoprotein. Moreover, pistachio consumption can boost serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activity, preventing LDL cholesterol oxidation.

2. Cashew

Studies indicate that cashew nuts increase HDL cholesterol concentrations. In addition, the oleic acid, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds in cashew are good for heart health and strengthen blood vessels. Cashews’ heart-healthy properties reduce LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts have long been known for their anti-oxidative and anti-cardiovascular disease effects. According to studies, on average, people who ate walnuts had an increase in their good HDL cholesterol and a drop in their bad cholesterol levels. In addition, including 30 grams of walnut per day significantly improved the lipid profile of type 2 diabetes patients.

4. Almonds

Almonds are a great source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, MUFA, and PUFA, all of which are excellent for your heart. Furthermore, there is strong proof that almonds help to lower LDL levels while raising HDL levels.

Healthy Fats and Oils

Some healthy fats that increase HDL cholesterol include coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, mustard oil, ghee, etc. These fats enhance lipid profiles and support a healthy heart due to their high monounsaturated omega-3 content.


The bioactive compound in garlic, called allicin, helps lower triglycerides and prevents plague development. Therefore, incorporating it into your everyday diet will assist in lowering harmful cholesterol levels.

Fibre-rich Foods

Foods with high fibre content can help lower harmful cholesterol. Fruits rich in pectin, a type of soluble fibre, aids in lowering LDL cholesterol, including grapes, pears, strawberries, gooseberries, and apples. Oats, barley, wheat, and ragi are the few best choices for high-fibre foods that increase HDL and lower LDL.

Beans and Legumes (Dal)

In most regions of India, dals and beans are staples. Therefore, incorporating it regularly into your diet is a great way to raise HDL cholesterol. Chickpeas, rajma, lobia, soybeans, masoor dal, Arhar dal, moong dal, and chana dal are great ingredients to increase HDL cholesterol. You can have it with roti or rice.

Green Leafy Vegetables 

Dark leafy greens may also help lower cholesterol levels by making your body excrete more cholesterol.

Leafy vegetables such as methi, spinach, and Sarson saag contain lutein and other carotenoids, which lead to a lower risk of heart disease.


Paneer is a soft, low-fat ingredient in numerous Indian dishes. It helps to meet your calcium needs without compromising HDL levels. Nutritionists suggest enjoying fresh paneer mixed with vegetables or seasoned and grilled.

One can include paneer-based dishes, paneer with spinach, Matar paneer, or grilled paneer curry. Choose cow’s milk paneer over buffalo, as the latter has a higher fat content. However, eat deep-fried or sweet paneer preparations in moderation.

The HealthifyMe Note

Following some healthy-eating guidelines allows you to enjoy Indian cuisine while maintaining HDL cholesterol levels. Nuts, seeds, dal, leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains are nutritious and boost HDL cholesterol. For best results, seek personalised diet guidance from a qualified nutritionist. 

A Sample 3-Day Indian Diet Plan for Cholesterol

Day 1

  • Early morning: Soaked methi seeds (1 tbsp) in warm water
  • Breakfast: Oats poha with vegetables and a bowl of curd
  • Mid-morning: Fruit chaat ( grapes, guava, apple)
  • Lunch: Whole wheat roti, vegetable salad, chicken curry, and cucumber raita
  • Mid-afternoon: A handful of nuts
  • Evening snacks: Steamed sprouts
  • Dinner: Moong dal khichdi,palak sabzi, and curd

Day 2

  • Early morning: A glass of lemon-infused water
  • Breakfast: Oats porridge and a bowl of pomegranate with seeds
  • Mid-morning: An apple and a cup of green tea
  • Lunch: Brown rice with lauki dal, salads, and buttermilk
  • Mid-afternoon: Low-fat yoghurt
  • Evening snacks: Roasted chana
  • Dinner: Whole wheat roti, gobi matar curry and cucumber raita

Day 3

  • Early morning: Almonds
  • Breakfast: Methi roti/thepla, bowl of curd, egg scramble
  • Mid-morning: 1 Apple or guava
  • Lunch: Whole wheat roti, palak paneer, vegetable salad
  • Mid-afternoon: Handful of nuts
  • Evening snacks: Boiled kala chana dal chat
  • Dinner: Jowar roti, Methi dal, beans and carrot sabzi


A healthy, balanced diet with adequate exercise can help maintain cholesterol levels. Most Indian recipes include dal, whole grains, vegetables, beans, legumes, and healthy fats, which can help with cholesterol.

In addition, various simple recipes incorporate the goodness of vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For additional benefits, avoid adding high-fat creams or deep-frying foods, which increase cholesterol levels.

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