HDL Levels Can Be Genetic

HDL cholesterol is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. A study in the late 1970s/early 80s known as the Framingham Study determined that higher levels of HDL cholesterol were protective against heart disease. This is one of those studies foundational to many cardiovascular health prevention ideas still around today.[ref] The general consensus seemed to be that HDL levels above 60 mg/dl are ‘good’ and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

What does HDL do?

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is a transport vessel for cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids built around an APOA1 protein. It usually is responsible for moving cholesterol and fats out of the cells. HDL cholesterol, then, is the cholesterol in the HDL particles.[ref]

However, a few recent studies show that you can have too much of a good thing, and HDL levels over 116 mg/dL for men or 135 mg/dL for women cause an increase in the risk of heart disease.[ref]

HDL cholesterol also plays a role in the immune system, with higher levels of HDL associated with better outcomes from parasites and bacterial infections.[ref]

HDL cholesterol levels are considered to be about half due to genes (with the rest due to diet, infection, etc.).[ref][ref]

HDL Cholesterol Genotype Report

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CETP gene:

The CETP gene codes for the cholesteryl ester transfer protein, which moves triglycerides or cholesterol between VLDL or LDL and HDL particles. It usually swaps a cholesterol ester from the HDL to an LDL particle in exchange for a triglyceride. Trials of drugs that inhibit CETP show an increase in HDL and a decrease in LDL cholesterol — but mostly with no positive impact on mortality from heart disease.[ref]

Check your genetic data for rs1800777 (23andMe v4, v5; AncestryDNA):

  • A/A: lower HDL[ref] increased sepsis risk[ref]
  • A/G: lower HDL, increased sepsis risk
  • G/G: typical HDL

Members: Your genotype for rs1800777 is .

Check your genetic data for rs5882 (23andMe v4, v5; AncestryDNA):

  • A/A: lower HDL
  • A/G: (somewhat) higher HDL
  • G/G: higher HDL[ref][ref][ref]

Members: Your genotype for rs5882 is .
Note that while the majority of studies seem to show that the G allele of rs5882 correlates with higher HDL, not all studies show this. There may be differences depending on ancestry and gender.

Check your genetic data for rs708272 Taq1B (23andMe v4, v5; AncestryDNA):

  • A/A: higher HDL cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart attack[ref][ref]
  • A/G: slightly higher HDL cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart attack
  • G/G: typical

Members: Your genotype for rs708272 is .

Check your genetic data for rs3764261 (23andMe v4, v5):

  • A/A: increased HDL cholesterol levels[ref]
  • A/C: increased HDL cholesterol levels
  • C/C: typical

Members: Your genotype for rs3764261 is .

LIPC gene:

The LIPC gene codes for the hepatic lipase enzyme. This enzyme helps regulate intermediate, low, and high-density lipoprotein levels.[ref]

Check your genetic data for rs4775065 (23andMe v4 only):

  • A/A: lower HDL[ref]
  • A/G: typical HDL
  • G/G: normal HDL

Members: Your genotype for rs4775065 is .


If you want to raise your HDL levels, there are several dietary interventions you could try.

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LDL Cholesterol Genes
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The Genetics of High Triglycerides
Triglycerides are the main type of fat in your blood. Triglyceride is a general term for a type of lipid-containing three fatty acids (tri) bound to a glycerol. Most importantly, triglycerides are used by the body as energy and are stored in adipocytes (fat cells that compose adipose tissue).

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About the Author:
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and also an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.