How To Raise Your Good Cholesterol
Did you know that there is one kind of blood cholesterol that is actually good for you to have lots of? Its HDL cholesterol.
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, often called the good type of cholesterol. To help remember the different types of cholesterol, you can think of the H in HDL cholesterol as standing for healthy.
HDL is beneficial because its purpose is to remove other types of cholesterol from your bloodstream, says Claire Sullivan, MD, a cardiologist with UH Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute. It does this by carrying unhealthy LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed from the body.
As a result, having an HDL level within the recommended range is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, Dr. Sullivan says.
The recommendations for HDL cholesterol are a little unique because higher levels are actually better. There are also slightly different recommendations for men and women.
Men are considered to be at risk if their HDL level is less than 40 mg/dL, while women are considered at risk if their HDL level is less than 50. However, the ideal range for all adults is 60 or higher.
Its best to focus on lifestyle changes to improve your HDL cholesterol, Dr. Sullivan says. Nutritional changes that can improve your HDL cholesterol include eating more healthy fats and limiting unhealthy fats.
Study Design And Diets
The intervention consisted of a 2-week baseline period, 3 weeks of low tomato diet and 3 weeks of high tomato diet. The study subjects followed their habitual diets and eating patterns during the intervention. Before the intervention, the nutritionist interviewed all the participants and instructed them individually how to follow low and high tomato diets without changing their normal everyday habitual diets. In addition, the subjects received written instructions including a detailed list of all other known lycopene-containing foods. During the low tomato diet, the subjects were not to consume tomatoes, tomato products such as tomato ketchup, tomato sauces, tomato juice, etc., and other vegetables and fruit containing lycopene . During the high tomato diet, the study subjects consumed 400 ml tomato juice containing 5·9 mg lycopene/100 ml and 30 g tomato ketchup containing 12·4 mg lycopene/100 g daily, resulting in an average intake of 27 mg dietary lycopene/d. The nutrient content of the tomato juice is presented in the Table 1. The participants were instructed to consume the tomato juice and ketchup with main meals during the day. The habitual consumption of tomatoes and other lycopene-rich foods was also allowed during the high tomato diet.
Table 1 The nutrient content of the tomato juice per 100 ml
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Natural Ways To Increase Hdl Cholesterol
Your genes do play a role in determining how much HDL your body makes and the proportion of different subtypes. Your genes are obviously already decided for you and out of your control, but your lifestyle choices are in your control. Here are some of the best, and even some easy, ways that you can get those HDL cholesterol numbers up:
1. Dont Smoke
As is always the case, smoking only makes health problems worse, and that includes HDL levels. Studies show that cigarette smoking adversely affects HDL by lowering its level, which further increases your risk for developing coronary heart disease. So if you smoke, youre already increasing your risk for heart problems.
2. Exercise More
To maintain a healthy body, you should exercise on a daily basis. If you want another specific reason to start exercising or increase your frequency of exercise, its your HDL levels. Increased physical activity directly helps raise your HDL cholesterol just another one of the many benefits of exercise. Vigorous exercise is the best choice for boosting HDL, but any additional exercise is better than none.
3. Decrease Body Weight
If youre currently overweight, by losing even a few pounds can improve your HDL cholesterol. For every six pounds of weight you lose, your HDL can increase by 1 milligram per deciliter. Thats means you want to lose weight, and if youre extremely overweight, getting your HDL cholesterol levels in order is another reason to treat obesity.
4. Eat Healthier Fats
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Why Is It Good
HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol because of the functions it performs in the body. By circulating in the bloodstream, it helps remove other forms of cholesterol by absorbing it and carrying it to the liver. The liver can then reprocess the cholesterol for use or send it out of the body as waste.
This process helps keep extra cholesterol from attaching to the lining of the arteries and becoming plaque. Plaque is a mixture of cholesterol and other fatty substances that attaches to the walls of the arteries. Over time, this can build up and cause the opening of the arteries to become narrower a condition called atherosclerosis.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that atherosclerosis is a risk factor for serious complications. Narrow arteries may lead to risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure. Additionally, narrow arteries may be more susceptible to blood clots, which can put a person at risk of severe events such as heart attack or stroke.
The combination of keeping total cholesterol down while keeping HDL cholesterol high may help reduce this risk and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Boost Hdl With Lifestyle Changes
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your HDL cholesterol level. Keep in mind: The higher your HDL level, the better. Thankfully, most of these steps lower your LDL level at the same, providing extra heart-healthy benefits. Try to:
Aim for a healthy weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. Losing weight can reduce your LDL cholesterol level while also increasing your HDL level.
Get moving. Not only can exercise boost your HDL level, it can also help you shed pounds. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This can include taking a brisk walk, riding a bike, or playing a sport. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed.
Clean up your diet. Saturated and trans fats are thought to lower your HDL cholesterol level, as well as raise LDL cholesterol. Limit both by eating leaner cuts of meat, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and fewer desserts and packaged or fried foods. Focus instead on eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kick the habit. Smoking is linked to lower HDL cholesterol, as well as higher LDL cholesterol. Improving your cholesterol levels is just one more reason to quit. Ask your provider for resources that can help.
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Get At Least 150 Minutes Of Exercise Every Week
Exercise can help increase your levels of HDL cholesterol which helps to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. If you add exercise it may also help you to lose weight.
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days per week at a moderate pace where you can talk but not sing. Choose activities that you will enjoy such as a brisk walk, biking, swimming, or running.
Start A Regular Exercise Routine And Stick With It
Weve all heard it before. Regular exercise is important for maintaining heart health and can also increase HDL cholesterol levels. Physical activity such as running, walking, biking, and swimming, along with moderate weight training, are great choices to help boost those good cholesterol levels.
A June 2020 review in the American Journal of Physiology found that endurance training led to a significant rise in HDL. For both men and women, the review cited a number of studies that had subjects perform moderate to vigorous exercise a minimum of three days a week. This was also the case for body types ranging from overweight beginners to marathon runners.
Exercise is excellent because it may independently raise your HDL but also leads to weight loss, which may account for additional gains in your HDL, says Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, chair of cardiology at AdvantageCare Physicians in New York.
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How To Increase Your Hdl Cholesterol Levels
High levels of HDL cholesterol, often called “good” cholesterol, are associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease . It appears that HDL particles “scour” the walls of blood vessels, cleaning out excess cholesterol that otherwise might have been used to make the plaques that cause CAD. The HDL cholesterol is then carried to the liver, where it is processed into bile, and secreted into the intestines and out of the body.
So, the current theory goes, when we measure a person’s HDL cholesterol level, we are measuring how vigorously his or her blood vessels are being “scrubbed” free of excess cholesterol.
Healthy Habits To Improve Your Cholesterol
Research shows that high levels of high-density lipoprotein , also known as “good” cholesterol, can protect you against heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes. HDL acts as an industrial vacuum by cleaning up low-density lipoprotein , known as “bad” cholesterol, and transporting it back to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body. Read on to learn about five lifestyle factors that can help boost your HDL levels.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Making modifications to your diet, even after years of unhealthy eating, might help lower your bad cholesterol, improve your good cholesterol, and help you manage your diabetes.
- Avoid unhealthy fats. Healthy eating means avoiding unhealthy fats that raise LDL levels and choosing healthier fats instead, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
- Increase your fiber. Lower your LDL levels with soluble fiber found in foods such as oatmeal, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley, and prunes.
- Eat omega-3 fatty acids. Although foods containing omega-3 fatty acidssuch as salmon, halibut, and herringdon’t decrease LDL levels, they may reduce your blood pressure and your risk of developing blood clots.
2. Increase Your Physical Activity
Stay motivated with an exercise partner or exercise group, and look for ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Try taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and if you have a desk job, try to take frequent walks during the day.
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What About A Low
Substantial evidence now shows that a low-fat diet often reduces rather than increases HDL levels. This result is not specifically caused by not enough fat, but rather, is caused by consuming too many carbohydrates. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have quietly stopped recommending low-fat diets for heart disease prevention. Indeed, it is low-carb diets and not low-fat diets which are associated with higher HDL levels.
Protect Yourself: How To Increase Your Hdl Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein is often referred to as the good cholesterol.
Having high HDL levels helps transport cholesterol from your arteries to your liver, where it can be used or excreted. In addition increased levels of HDL have both and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefit.
When it comes to cholesterol, its mostly about the numbers. While genetics definitely play a role, there are several other factors that affect HDL levels
The combination of low LDL bad cholesterol and trying to increase HDL good cholesterol is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Here are five healthy ways to raise your good HDL cholesterol.
Eat olive oil
Singh Snapshot: Extra virgin olive oil with a high polyphenol content has been shown to increase HDL levels in healthy people, the elderly and individuals with high cholesterol.
Stub out smoking
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Factors Affecting Cholesterol Levels
- Diet- The food you eat increases the level of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. In such a situation, try to reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in your diet.
- Weight- Being overweight can increase triglycerides. In this case, losing weight can help lower your triglyceride level and increase HDL.
- excercise- If your cholesterol level is high, exercising regularly can help you lower it. Basically exercise works to lower triglycerides and increase HDL, so try to be physically active for a total of 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- age gender- Cholesterol level increases with age. Before menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. Whereas after menopause, womens LDL increases and HDL decreases.
What Is A Good Cholesterol Level
A good cholesterol level is different for people of different ages and sexes. For example, for anyone younger than 20 years old, total cholesterol should be less than 170 mg/dL, non-HDL cholesterol should be less than 120 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL, and HDL cholesterol should be more than 45 mg/dL.
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Eat Lots Of Soluble Fiber
Upping your daily intake of soluble fiber can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Taking psyllium supplements and eating oatmeal for breakfast are easy ways to increase the amount of soluble fiber you consume every day. You can also load up on fruits and veggies to get that fiber intake even higher.
Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
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How To Increase Good Hdl Cholesterol
Its a very common misconception that cholesterol is generally bad and high levels are always cause for serious concern. But what if I told you that there is a type of cholesterol thats not only good at higher levels, but also decreases your risk of major health issues like heart disease? I have great news: This type of cholesterol really does exist. Its called HDL cholesterol, and its our good cholesterol.
So if there is a cholesterol that is actually good for us, how can we naturally increase its levels? The short answer is lifestyle. Your lifestyle actually has the single greatest impact on your HDL cholesterol level. So making changes to daily and completely controllable habits like diet and exercise can equate to healthier HDL cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk for life-threatening health issues.
Lets get started on improving those HDL cholesterol numbers because positive change can literally start today!
How To Raise Good Cholesterol And Lower Bad Cholesterol
This article was medically reviewed by Victor Catania, MD. Dr. Catania is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his MD from the Medical University of the Americas in 2012 and completed his residency in Family Medicine at the Robert Packer Hospital. He is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine.There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 410,959 times.
Research suggests that making an effort to improve your cholesterol reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Heart AssociationLeading nonprofit that funds medical research and public educationGo to source Improving your cholesterol numbers means not only lowering LDLs, but raising your HDLs as well. Studies show that by making lifestyle changes and eating a balanced diet, you can take steps to raise your good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol to take control of your health.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
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How Is It Different From Bad Cholesterol
The terms good and bad are useful to help explain the functions of cholesterol. Both types of cholesterol serve a purpose in the body when balanced.
Cholesterol helps the body make new cell membranes. It is also important for making vitamin D and some hormones, such as sex hormones and the stress hormone cortisol. The liver also uses cholesterol to make bile, which digests fats.
LDL cholesterol is bad because it collects as plaque inside the arteries, so additional LDL cholesterol is unnecessary. High LDL levels put a person for atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for heart disease.
In contrast, higher levels of good cholesterol may lower a persons risk of developing heart disease.
- vegetable oils such as olive oil and sunflower oil
- oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring
Cook With Healthy Oils
Not all oils are created equal when it comes to your heart health. Olive oil and sunflower oil are mainly unsaturated fat, which can lower LDL cholesterol and at the same time increase HDL cholesterol. In a study published in February 2019 in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers found that high-polyphenol olive oil increased HDL cholesterol concentration by almost 50 percent.
In a Harvard Health Letter, Walter C. Willett, MD, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, suggests using coconut oil sparingly because of the lack of research on how the oil may contribute to heart disease.
Groppo agrees. Coconut oil is best used on the skin, she says.
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