You may have heard health experts and nutritionists emphasise on upping the intake of good cholesterol in your diet and doing away with bad cholesterol completely. Good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol are one of the five major groups of lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are complex particles composed of multiple proteins which transport all fat molecules around the body within the water outside cells. Adding good cholesterol foods is every essential to make sure your heart is healthy. High cholesterol foods begin forming plaques in the arterial walls, thereby hindering smooth blood flow. According to a latest study published in the European Heart Journal, variations in the good cholesterol levels may also lead to infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis or pneumonia.

The findings revealed, Individuals with very low high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol had a 75 per cent higher risk of infectious disease, whereas the risk was 43 per cent higher in those with very high HDL cholesterol.

"We found that individuals with both low and high HDL cholesterol had high risk of hospitalisation with an infectious disease," said Borge Nordestgaard, Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Demark.

"Importantly, these groups of individuals also had high risk of dying from infectious disease," Nordestgaard added.

For the study the team examined the data from 100,000 individuals.

"Numerous studies in animals and cells indicate that HDL is of importance for the function of the immune system and thereby the susceptibility to infectious disease. However, this study is the first to examine if HDL is associated with the risk of infectious disease among individuals from the general population," explained co-author Christian Medom Madsen, post-doctoral student at the varsity.

The study points no causal relationship between levels of good cholesterol and infections. In other words, the study cannot conclude that very low or very high HDL is the direct cause of the increased risk of infectious disease.

"Our findings indicate that, in the future, research into the role and function of HDL should not narrowly focus on cardiovascular disease, but rather focus on the role of HDL in other disease areas, such as infectious disease," Nordestgaard said.Moderation and balance are key to not just healthy cholesterol but healthy life in general. Eating nutrient dense and balanced food that fights inflammation is just one of them. Here are some good and bad cholesterol foods that you must include/rule out from your diet wisely.

Good Cholesterol Foods

1. Beans and Pulses

Beans, lentils and various other kinds of pulses can significantly bring down the bad cholesterol levels. The low glycemic index of the pulses help keep the LDL cholesterol levels in check.

2. Nuts

The chunky goodness of nuts like walnuts, almond and pistachios have long been associated with bringing down bad cholesterol. These nuts have a low glycemic index, are naturally cholesterol free, and are source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, which makes them the best bet for good heart health too.

3. Olive Oil

The Mediterranean wonder has taken the health circuit by a storm and for a good reason. Heart-healthy and abundantly loaded with good fats, extra virgin olive oil can tackle the spike in bad cholesterol levels. You can use the olive oil to spruce up your salads, sauces and soups.

4. Whole grains

Ditch refined carbs and go for whole grain foods. Wheat bran, cereals, and brown rice are low in glycemic index and packed with heart-healthy fiber.

High Cholesterol Foods

1.  Packaged Chips, Burgers and Other Transfats: High in salt and cooked in refined oil, these trans-fat foods can wreak havoc on your lipid profile. These fats get accumulated and clog your arteries, which restricts the blood flow.

2. Sugary cookies and goods: If salt is bad, then too much sugar does no good either. These cookies, crackers are packed with refined carbohydrates. These sugary foods cause immediate spike in blood levels and upset the blood sugar levels too.

3. Alcohol: Moderate drinking is okay, but according to various studies, excessive drinking can raise both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Which is why people with high blood pressure should be extra weary of the number of glasses and pints of alcohol they take(With Inputs IANS)