A high level of HDL—the so-called good cholesterol—is generally associated with protection against heart attack. However, we now know that HDL can be further divided into subtypes HDL1 and HDL2.
HDL1 and HDL2 reduce heart risk factors, but HDL2 is far superior and provides more protection than HDL1. The VAP test—short for vertical auto profile—measures both.
Cardiologists have much more to learn about HDL fractions, and it may turn out that some HDL can be just as harmful, perhaps even more so, than oxidized LDL cholesterol. We are hearing, for instance, that there are some types of HDL that are pro-inflammatory. This is an area in which we are still learning—and need to learn more yet.
Knowing Your Numbers
When it comes to HDL cholesterol levels, here are the healthy ranges you should strive for:
- Greater than 15 mg/dL for HDL1
- Greater than 25 mg/dL for HDL 2
- 40–120 mg/dL total HDL for women
- 35–120 mg/dL total HDL for men
if your numbers are not where they should be, try these five tips to increase HDL cholesterol levels:
- Ask your doctor to test for insulin resistance if you determine that your HDL cholesterol level is low
- Follow a good cardiovascular nutrition plan to help you reduce weight
- Eat fewer high-glycemic carbohydrates
- Take 1–2 grams of niacin (vitamin B3) daily in divided doses.
If your doctor doesn’t automatically offer you a VAP test, this is one worth asking for. Most insurance carriers will cover it.
As this area of medicine continues to evolve and as the cholesterol guidelines change, the more you know, the better. And, the more you know, the more able you are to maintain good cholesterol levels.