How Can You Raise HDL Cholesterol?

HDL does not build up in your bloodstream as it carries excess cholesterol to your liver where as when LDL cholesterol moves cholesterol throughout your body, it can build up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the blood and in all the cells of the body. Cholesterol helps your body to build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Usually, the cholesterol made by liver meets the body requirements. But cholesterol also enters your body from food that you eat, such as milk, eggs, and meat. Too much cholesterol in your body is a risk factor for heart disease.
Usually we have two main type of cholesterol in our body, the good and the bad. The good cholesterol are known as  high-density lipoprotein or HDL and bad cholesterol are known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL. HDL does not build up in your bloodstream as it carries excess cholesterol to your liver where as  when LDL cholesterol moves cholesterol throughout your body, it can build up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow. This can lead to many heart issues along with heart failure. If the level of LDL is much more then HDL you may have  high cholesterol, a condition that can lead to atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, and stroke.

Ways to Raise HDL Cholestrol:

Regular exercise:

A healthy lifestyle include regular exercise and can also increase HDL cholesterol levels. Aerobic exercises, such as running, biking, and swimming, along with moderate weight training can help raising good cholesterol levels. A high intensity interval training on a bicycle can led to better HDL cholesterol levels as well as significant weight loss

Have a balanced diet:

A healthy and balanced diet is recommended for a healthy heart. A balanced diet includes
plenty of fruit, vegetables , fibre and wholegrain foods . Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Reduce the intake of saturated fat which are found in foods such as fatty cuts of meat, cream, cakes and biscuits, processed food. Try to include healthier sources of fat containing omega-3 fatty acids , such as oily fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds.

Loose weight:

If you are overweight or obese, loosing some weight can help to raise HDL cholesterol. When fat accumulates around your waist rather than in the hips and thighs, you have abdominal obesity which is associated with heart disease risk and lower levels of the good cholesterol. Through a proper diet and regular exercise you can achieve the goal.

Stop Smoking:

Smoking cigarettes can suppress or lower the good cholesterol levels and also can have number of health problems, including lung disease and cancer. It can also increases your risk of heart attack. Smoking can reduce HDL cholesterol by preventing HDL synthesis, blocking its maturation, and speeding up its clearance and metabolism. Quitting smoking can help your HDL synthesis and metabolism to go back to their original levels. This will help the HDL to do its job better again.

Include omega-3 in your diet:

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, can help increase your HDL cholesterol. Fatty fish such as, salmon, mackerel, or albacore tuna, can help you hit your omega-3 goals. These increase in the size of HDL particles in the body, which could help improve cholesterol transport through the body.
Flaxseeds, mixed greens, and walnuts are another sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Including all these in your diet can increase HDL cholesterol in a short period of time.

Limit Alcohol:

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels. So limit the amount of alcohol intake to decrease triglycerides levels and lower LDL cholesterol which will help getting healthier overall cholesterol levels. Having up to one alcoholic drink per day can increase good cholesterol levels.

Cut Back on Sugar:

A diet high in carbohydrates such as added sugar, white bread, cookies, and cakes reduces HDL cholesterol levels and increases the risk for metabolic disorders. Limit added sugar in the diet significantly raise the HDL cholesterol levels. Try to reduce added sugar in your diet by slowly replacing sugars with fruits and vegetables. Having a diet , high in fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and low in sweets,salt, red meat and fat will help reducing blood pressure, blood glucose, lower total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol and improve metabolic syndrome. Also try to avoid trans fats, including fried foods or those prepared with shortening, since these may also reduce HDL.

Cook With Healthy Oils:

Olive oil and soybean oil are mainly unsaturated fat, which can lower LDL cholesterol and at the same time increase HDL cholesterol.
Coconut oil is beneficial in raising HDL. But as it has high saturated fat content, it can raise LDL cholesterol also which may contribute to heart disease.

Include Antioxidant-Rich Foods in your diet:

An antioxidant-rich diet raises HDL cholesterol levels by reducing triglycerides. These foods has a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, and inflammatory biomarkers. Dark chocolate, berries, avocado, nuts, kale, beets, and spinach are some of the examples of antioxidant-rich foods.

Trans fats and saturated fats:

Trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol which are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats also has no nutritional value. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are the main source of trans fat in our diets. They are found in many types of processed foods. Saturated fats are another source of LDL cholesterol and should be consumed in less amount.

Foods containing saturated fats include:

  • palm and coconut oils
  • red meat, fatty meat, and highly-processed meat
  • fried foods
  • cocoa butter, butter, lard, shortening and stick margarine
  • whole-fat dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and cream
  • sweets, pastries, donuts, cakes, and cookies
  • sugary beverages

Adding these foods which contains high-cholesterol, along with processed and fast foods in your diet, will lead to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese raises your risk of heart disease, as well as other health complications.

Healthier options:

The below listed foods may help lower LDL and raise HDL, and help manage your weight:

  • fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon
  • olive oil
  • citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and grapes
  • nuts, including walnuts, peanuts, and almonds
  • beans and lentils including navy, kidney, garbanzo, and black-eyed peas
  • soybeans
  • okra and eggplant
  • oats and oat bran
  • barley and other whole grains

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