Good Cholesterol Helps Control Glucose

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as HDL or “good” cholesterol, helps control blood glucose levels by improving the function of skeletal muscles and reducing fat levels, according to research recently published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.


Rates of cardiovascular disease are significantly increased in people who have Type 2 diabetes; low levels of HDL cholesterol and one of its major components, apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), serve as a strong predictor for the development of cardiovascular disease. To investigate this connection, scientists in Germany and Finland looked at two different strains of mice, one of which had increased levels of HDL cholesterol and ApoA-I and the other of which had reduced levels of the substances.

The researchers found that, without ApoA-I, the burning of calories in skeletal muscles is reduced, leading to increased blood glucose levels and weaker muscles. From this they determined that HDL cholesterol and ApoA-I facilitates the usage of glucose and calories within the muscle cells. High levels of HDL and ApoA-I in mice were associated with protection against high blood glucose levels and typical symptoms of aging, such as decline in muscle performance and an increase in fat mass.

“Our results link for the first time low HDL cholesterol with impaired use of glucose and burning of calories in Type 2 diabetes,” says researcher Susanna M. Hofmann, MD. “[The] results are highly relevant for women with Type 2 diabetes. Their risk for cardiovascular diseases compared to men with Type 2 diabetes is significantly increased, because these women have low concentrations of HDL-cholesterol and ApoA-I.”

The researchers suggest that their findings may allow for the development of new types of diabetes treatments.

Steps that can help boost HDL levels include not smoking; losing extra weight; increasing physical activity; emphasizing mono- and polyunsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats; and taking niacin, fibrates, or statins, if prescribed.

For more information, read the article “‘Good’ Cholesterol Controls Blood Glucose” or see the study’s abstract in the journal Circulation. And to learn more about the metabolic syndrome, click here to read “Lifestyle Habits for Lipid Management,” by dietitian Heidi Mochari.

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  • Redneck Angel

    The trouble is that when you lower your cholesterol, the HDL lowers too! If anybody has a “fix’ for this, I’d like to hear about it.

  • M. E. Bon

    I found that by following the meals & food program contained in Metabolism Miracle and also in Diabetes Miracle by Diane Kress, RD, CDE who has over 30 years experience as a RD & CDE, I have achieved perfect cholesterols, no trygs, lost over 65 lbs, down from size 24 to 14, reduced dramatical consumption of carbohydrates who are to blame for the disproportionate accumulation of fats in the blood. for me cutting out processed carbohydrates has been the key to getting to perfect cholesterols, and an A1CHg of 5.3 stable for one full year now. I hope you all have the opportunity to read up on this beautiful and natural eating program and that your cholesterols and trygs, and A1CHg when/if you chose to follow it. Not a diet, it is a healthy lifestyle program with no hunger pains, lots of energy and success.

  • Joe

    When my HDL is high, my LDL is low. When my LDL is low, my HDL is lower.

    I asked my Endocrinologist and diabetes nurse educator about it, and they both said, “Some people are just like that.” They both also said that no dietary changes or supplements would have a significant affect on low LDL, although *greatly* increasing exercise might. And by greatly, they meant Olympic training level workouts. They specifically said that statins would not raise “good” cholesterol. They also mentioned smoking as a big problem, but since I’ve never smoked it was a moot point.

  • pat

    I am no expert but what I heard on tv about this and I am is questioning?. No not in a medical way. But to say just because you have HBP and the folks in a generalway should whom should really take the medication?? And to automatic place someone with daibetes as a precaution? sorry but I do not buy into this. I know companies want to make monies but this is crazy and I am not sold. What about testing? I the patient has a voice too. this medication is no joke and has many side effects. make something more safer and you may have a chance with me. And I say may be.

  • Terri

    The fix is in folks, lol! I’m sorry but the physicians and big pharma have more to gain by putting all of us on statins, etc. Eat right(absolutely-to the extent possible), excercise, get good rest and pray your health remains relatively stable—to the extent possible that is…

  • Terri

    Addendum-hasn’t the patent (or something) expired on Lipitor just recently? You know what that means—a threat to the pockets of doctors and big pharma! Maybe that would be why it’s all over the news that they’re saying all these people need to be on a statin drug…UGH!!!

  • Terri

    It’s all a racket anyway—the last time I was in the hospital for a low blood sugar event I had to school the dietary department on what to feed me while I was there! The so-called ‘diabetic diet’ the doctor ordered for me and the hospital dietary department was sending me kept my blood sugar up! I didn’t have to take meds or insulin as long as my diet was proper. Ain’t that a kick in the head? I wanted chips with my sandwich so they sent up that ‘baked’ garbage…have you read the label on those things??? There’s more stuff that is damaging to the human body in that mess than just having some regular potato chips of which half the bag is air anyway! Smh… >:(

  • Carol

    Talk about confusing, it has only been a few months since all the publicity about Lipator (a statin) was found to cause type 2 diabetes and now it is being publicized as a miracle drug to prevent a “side affect” of the condition it created in the first place. I wish I had never taken the first tablet.

  • Rob

    I have seen dramatic improvement in both my HDL and my LDL starting last year when I dropped all chemical sweeteners and quit eating anything with the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredients. While I am not officially on a “Paleo” diet, it is close. Over the year I’ve added walking to my changes. Then I converted that into running; then on to circuit training. Now I have added a weight lifting class three times a week. I’m now 55 years old. I’ve lost 71 pounds and 9 inches from my mid section. 3 months ago my HDL was well above normal for my age and the LDL was well below. I’m hoping that my next time up they will be within 10 points of each other.

  • Mr. Gregg

    Lipitor has significant side effects that often put the user in severe pain. So much pain that pain medication is needed. Instead, take Red Yeast Rice supplement (600 mg) at bed time daily. In additon take Gooseberry Juice or Amla Juice that can be found in an Indian grocery store. My cholesterol is 173 without Lipitor.
    Blood glucose levels can be lowered, in addition to weight loss, by eliminating wheat from your diet. Read the book by William Davis, MD entitled Wheat Belly. In addition, add one cap full of Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd Juice to your daily diet. You can also puchase these products at your local Indian grocery store. You will be amazed at the results. Personally, i have been able to reduce by daily insulin requirements by fifty per cent.