How To Raise HDL Cholesterol

Ways To Lower Cholesterol

The concern of how to raise HDL cholesterol is relatively new. Researchers and doctors have been focused on reducing LDL cholesterol for the past several years. Why?

Each of us needs cholesterol to live. We get cholesterol through the foods we eat. But most of it is produced by the liver. In order for the cholesterol to travel through the body it needs a transport system. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is a particle - a transport system - responsible for moving cholesterol to the arteries.

Being of a generous nature, LDL deposits some of the cholesterol along the walls of the arteries. Too much cholesterol (particularly in oxidized form) in the blood results in the arterial buildup we know as atherosclerosis. How do we avoid atherosclerosis? We need to limit the amount of cholesterol left over in the blood vessels.

One way to limit cholesterol in the blood is to limit the amount of LDL that transports it. But another way is to increase transportation from the blood stream back to the liver. That is the job of HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

What Is HDL?

HDL is not so much a type of cholesterol. It is a cholesterol transport system. The HDL molecule consists of lipids (fat soluble molecules), protein, and cholesterol. It scours the walls of blood vessels removing excess cholesterol. It then transports the cholesterol back to the liver.

So the cholesterol in HDL is not good cholesterol. Rather HDL is the complex transport system that is good because it removes cholesterol from the blood vessels where it can do harm.

If your HDL is low excess cholesterol in your blood is not being adequately removed. Some of it is most likely being deposited along the inner lining of your arteries.
Because of this the question of how to raise HDL cholesterol is receiving more attention in recent years.

How To Raise HDL Cholesterol

You will find many articles on the internet advocating different foods for raising HDL. Many of these foods can help balance total cholesterol. But it is questionable whether most of them directly affect HDL levels.

There are medications that can help raise HDL. Your doctor may recommend some of these. But what can you do? What do researchers say about how to raise HDL cholesterol?

If you are already serious about heart health you may be doing many of the things necessary to improve your HDL scores. The same efforts that improve heart health in one area also improve heart health in other areas. Below are recommendations that researchers make on how to raise HDL cholesterol.

Let’s start with the negative:

Don’t Smoke

It is known that smoking promotes atherosclerosis. One reason for this is smoking lowers HDL. It also makes blood more likely to clot. By quitting a current smoker can raise his HDL thereby reducing his risk of coronary heart disease.

Get Up And Get Going

Studies have shown that exercising can raise HDL. One study involved healthy yet inactive adults. Each participant was asked to get regular aerobic exercise. The added activity resulted in a 3-9% increase in HDL levels.

The relationship between exercise and HDL is not entirely understood. Some have suggested that exercise is involved in increasing the production and action of several enzymes. These enzymes increase the effectiveness of cholesterol transport.

Perhaps the why is not so important to us. The important thing is exercise raises HDL. And the good news is moderate exercise seems to do as much for HDL levels as intense exercise.

So you want to know how to raise HDL cholesterol? Start by getting up and adding a little exercise to your daily routine.

Keep Your Weight In Check

Carrying excess weight is never a good thing. Losing weight can make you feel better about yourself and give you more energy. Now we have another incentive to lose those extra pounds.

It is estimated that losing just six pounds can raise your HDL 1 mg/dL. Adding a little aerobic exercise to your daily routine might just do the trick. Also dietary changes that can help balance your cholesterol are consistent with weight loss.

How To Raise HDL Cholesterol With Fat

Making a shift in the types of fats you eat can help you lose weight. The same shift can positively affect your HDL levels.

Limit your intake of saturated fats. Though saturated fats do not have a direct negative impact on HDL they do increase cholesterol production resulting in more cholesterol transported to the blood. In short they raise LDL.

Like saturated fats, trans-fats raise LDL. And they lower HDL. Stay away from them. Anything made from partially hydrogenated oils contains trans-fats.

Instead increase your intake of healthy monounsaturated oils such as olive, peanut and canola oils.

Replace other fats with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps lower triglycerides and balances LDL and HDL. Omega-3 also makes blood platelets less sticky and reduces atherosclerosis buildup.
Increasing your intake of Omega-3 is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
How do you add Omega-3 to your diet? Eat more ALA rich foods like flaxseed. And eat more EPA/DHA rich foods like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. In addition you should consider supplementing Omega-3 with high quality fish oil supplements and flaxseed supplements.

How To Raise HDL Cholesterol With Alcohol

It has become common knowledge that drinking a little wine is good for your heart. The reason is moderate alcohol consumption raises HDL. Studies have shown this. These same studies have shown that heavy alcohol consumption does not raise HDL more than moderate drinking.

So have a little if it suits you. But don’t overdo it. The risks of heavy drinking far outweigh the benefits.

Here is one more important note on food…

How To Raise HDL Cholesterol With Diet

The so-called Mediterranean Diet is associated with higher HDL levels as well as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Mediterranean diet gets its name from its association with the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. There is no one Mediterranean diet. However there are certain characteristics that are consistent with the diets of the different ethnic groups in that part of the world. For example these diets…
  • are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, potatoes, nuts, beans, and seeds.
  • are lacking in red meat
  • are moderate in fish, poultry and dairy
  • are almost devoid of eggs
  • are rich in the use of olive oil
  • involve wine in moderation
The Mediterranean diet has been studied in its relation to heart health in a number of settings. One such study is the Lyon Diet Heart Study. You may find it interesting reading.

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