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How to Raise Your Good Cholesterol

Sometimes, high cholesterol can be a good thing.

By
Monica Reinagel, M.S., L.N,
Episode #119

A Mediterranean Diet May Boost HDL Cholesterol

So, let’s review what we have so far:

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and trans fats

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Eat whole grains in moderation

  • Don’t avoid fat

  • Eat fish, nuts, olives, and seeds

  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation

If all of that sounds kind of familiar, you may be remembering my article on the Mediterranean Diet, which is essentially what I’ve just described. And, in fact, the Mediterranean Diet pattern has been found to raise HDL levels and otherwise positively affect risk factors for heart disease.

Other Ways to Raise HDL Cholesterol

Aside from diet, there are a few other things you can do to positively affect your HDL levels.

Be a woman. Women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men, especially before menopause.  Of course recent advances in medical technology notwithstanding, there’s probably only so far you’re willing to go in order to boost your HDL levels. So, let’s focus on things that are a little easier for you to change.

Maintain a healthy weight. Higher body weights are associated with lower HDL levels, and vice versa. Being able to zip up that prom dress or tuxedo 20, 30, or even 40 years later is more than class reunion vanity—it’s a prescription for a long and healthy life. Quick tip: If you are actively losing weight, you may see your HDL levels decline but once you stabilize at your goal weight, your HDL should rebound to a higher, healthier, level.   Find the diet that’s best for you here.

Work out.   Engaging in moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise will raise your HDL levels, especially if they’re on the low side. If you need help getting motivated, look no further than Get Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Slim Down and Shape Up.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle and Don’t Worry

Honestly, the best way to get healthy HDL cholesterol levels is just to eat right and get some exercise. When you live a healthy lifestyle, HDL levels tend to take care of themselves.

If you have a suggestion for a future show topic or would like to find out about having me speak at your conference or event, send an email to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com.

You can also post comments and questions on my Nutrition Diva Facebook Page.  I answer a lot of listener questions in my free weekly newsletter, so if you’ve sent a question my way, be sure you’re signed up to receive that.

Have a great week and remember to eat something good for me! 

References:

Response of blood lipids to exercise training

Dietary influence on serum cholesterol ratios

Influence of carbohydrates on HDL and LDL

Effect of weight loss on HDL

Cholesterol image courtesy of Shutterstock

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