How to Improve Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels?

November 12, 2012

How to Improve Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels?

There are two types of cholesterol. While excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol may obstruct the flow of blood and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, high-density or HDL cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease.

HDL Cholesterol

About one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol circulates in form of HDL cholesterol. High levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood can help prevent heart disease. However, low levels of HDL cholesterol may increase the risk of heart disease. Experts believe that this may be due the fact that HDL cholesterol tends to move away from arteries to the liver, and prevents the formation of blood clots and arterial plaques. HDL levels between 40 and 60 mg/dL are ideal for you, as per the current guidelines issued by the National Cholesterol Education Program. There are many simple and practical ways to increase HDL cholesterol levels in the body.

Diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help increase HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as walnuts, almonds and certain fish can also help balance your good cholesterol levels. Other good sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil and canola oil. However, you should avoid foods containing unhealthy solid fats such as butter, cheese and clarified butter. A healthy and wholesome diet will not only increase HDL cholesterol level but also improve your appearance and prevent metabolic disorders.

Exercise

Most experts also agree that moderate exercise for 30 minutes, five days of week is as important as diet in preventing metabolic disorders. Moderate exercise also helps increase HDL cholesterol levels, while lowering the bad cholesterol levels. Recent studies have indicated that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and jogging can elevate the HDL cholesterol levels by 3 to 6 mg/dL. It may take almost 24 hours to see significant changes. However, the improved levels may persist for almost 2 weeks after the initial exercise. Two sets of 15-minute exercise regimens per day may provide the same benefits as a single 30 minute stretch of exercise.

Quit Smoking

One of the best ways to increase HDL cholesterol levels is to quit smoking. This is especially beneficial for women. Some recent studies have indicated that regular smoking can lower the HDL levels in women by almost 9.9 mg/dL compared to 2.9 mg/dL in men. The impact of passive smoke is as detrimental to HDL levels as direct smoking. HDL levels are reduced by almost 12 percent in children exposed to passive smoke. The HDL levels, however, improve dramatically once you quit smoking.

Alcohol

One or two drinks of alcohol per day can increase HDL cholesterol levels by 9 to 13.1 mg/dL. Moderate alcohol consumption can lower your risk of heart disease or stroke by 30 to 50 percent. However, consumption of more than three drinks per day may increase your risk of heart disease. Hence, most studies recommend one drink for women and two drinks for men per day for healthy heart.

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