Foods that boost good cholesterol levels in the body are those rich in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids such as vegetable oils, nuts and olives. Others include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.
Good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein functions to sequester excess cholesterol from the blood and transport them to the liver to be broken down. In contrast, bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein transports cholesterol throughout the various tissues and organs of the body where excess cholesterol eventually deposits in blood vessel walls as plaque that causes coronary artery disease. To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, doctors recommend lowering the body's levels of bad LDL and increasing levels of good HDL. Healthy levels of HDL cholesterol are 60 mg/dL and above.
Studies show that a diet rich in marine fish and seafood containing long chain omega-3 fatty acids decreases the risk of stroke and that dietary supplementation of these omega-3s lowers the risk of a heart attack, cardiac death and sudden death in people predisposed to cardiovascular disease. A healthy diet derives 25 to 35 percent of total daily caloric intake from fat, with saturated fat not exceeding 7 percent. Experts advise the public to avoid foods rich in saturated and trans fats, which raise LDL cholesterol levels and damage blood vessels.