Good cholesterol is known as HDL. It is a high-density lipoprotein that circulates in the blood. Unlike lousy cholesterol, HDL reduces the risk of heart disease. For most people, HDL makes up 20 to 30 percent of their total blood cholesterol. Although genetics plays a role in HDL, there are still steps that people can take to raise their right cholesterol levels.
How Does HDL Help the Heart?
According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, high HDL levels prevent plaque from forming on artery walls. Lipoprotein contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. These agents protect against the formation of plaque. Research has shown that increasing HDL levels will help with heart disease prevention. As a result, scientists are now testing HDL-boosting drugs.
Making Lifestyle Changes
A person’s lifestyle has the single most significant impact on HDL cholesterol amounts. When people have bad habits, they are likely to have lower amounts of HDL. To fix this problem, people must make lifestyle changes. Even small changes will help. To boost HDL numbers, people must do the following:
Eliminate the tobacco habit. A study done at John Hopkins University found that people who smoke have lower HDL amounts than non-smokers. The study also found that HDL levels rise within two weeks of quitting. Cutting the smoking habit can raise a person’s HDL level by nearly four points. Although difficult, eliminating a smoking habit is worth the effort.
Lose excess body fat. Aim for a score of 25 or below on the body mass index. People who are overweight have lower HDL levels than those who are not. Make losing weight a priority. Shedding extra weight improves HDL levels. For every six pounds lost, HDL levels increase by one point. Eliminating fat is especially essential when excess weight is stored in the abdominal area.
Spend time performing physical activity. To raise HDL levels, people must burn at least 1,200 calories a week through exercise. Try to do at least 30 minutes of aerobics each day. Some examples of activities include running, biking and swimming. Participating in sports also counts. For example, a basketball game is an excellent form of physical activity.
Use healthier fats. Reducing the amount of Trans and saturated fat in a diet can increase good cholesterol. Not only that, but it also lowers dangerous cholesterol levels. Total daily calories should have less than seven percent of saturated fat. People should incorporate more monounsaturated fat in their diet. These fats are found in olive, peanut and canola oils. Monounsaturated fats improve the anti-inflammatory agents in HDL cholesterol.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Mild alcohol consumption can raise HDL levels. However, don’t have more than one or two drinks a day. Too much alcohol can lead to severe health problems. For instance, it can cause heart failure. When appropriately used, juice can be beneficial. As research has shown, a moderate amount of alcohol is linked to higher HDL levels.
Besides making lifestyle changes, people can also take medication to boost their HDL cholesterol. Medicines that are used to lower bad cholesterol may also increase good lipid totals. When prescribed medicine, always take it as directed. Some medicines that help with cholesterol include Niacin, Fibrates, and Statin.
Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. Research has shown that it may increase good cholesterol by 20 to 35 percent. However, it requires a high amount to get these benefits. As a result, niacin is classified as a drug. There are also some dietary supplements that contain niacin. People should talk to their doctor before seeking any of this medication.
Fibrates can increase HDL levels by 20 percent. This option includes fenofibrate and gemfibrozil. Speak with a pharmacist to see which brand provides the best quality. The medicine is meant for people who have a low amount of HDL. Overweight people, for instance, may benefit from taking this medication.
Statins are known for their ability to lower bad cholesterol. Along with that, certain types of the drug can raise HDL levels by nearly 15 percent. Statin blocks the liver from making cholesterol. As a result, the quantity of cholesterol in a person’s liver is reduced. It even causes the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood.
Healthy Food Options
Some foods are great for blood cholesterol levels. If people make changes in their diet, they may see an increase in their HDL numbers. People should visit their doctor for a baseline cholesterol test. If their HDL levels are out of the ordinary range, they must make some dietary changes. The following foods are right to incorporate into a diet.
Soy can raise HDL totals by three percent. Also, soy has been known to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. While further studies need to be conducted, soy seems like a healthy option. Soy products are high in fiber. Not only that, but they are also low in saturated fats.
Add fiber to a diet. Soluble fiber lowers bad cholesterol. Also, it also increases HDL numbers. Try to have at least 2 servings of soluble fiber a day. This fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, oats, and legumes.
Start eating cold-water fish. Products like salmon and mackerel can increase right cholesterol amounts. Since cold-water fish contains omega-3 fatty acid, it has numerous health benefits. Besides raising HDL amounts, cold-water fish can also reduce triglyceride levels. Studies have shown that higher amounts of omega-3 can prevent arthritis, cancer and heart disease. People should even know that nuts are an excellent source of omega-3.
Replace soda with cranberry juice. A British study found that drinking three cups of cranberry juice a day can increase HDL amounts by 21 percent. It is especially useful for those who dislike alcohol. Cranberry juice contains quite a few antioxidants. To get these benefits, make sure to buy 100 percent juice instead of the cocktail kind. Juice cocktail has too much sugar.