High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol belongs to the group of lipoproteins that transport fat particles (cholesterol and triglycerides) through the blood. Other lipoproteins are LDL, VLDL, IDL and chylomicrons. HDL transports about 30% of total cholesterol in the blood.
HDL is also known as "good" cholesterol. The level of someone’s HDL is pointing to the excess cholesterol carried away from the blood vessels to the liver.
Normal HDL level is about 40 to 60mg/dL. Anything below the lower number, less than 40mg/dL is considered to be a threat for the cardiovascular system. However, there is not upper limit when it comes to HDL. Doctors agree that the higher HDL level is always better for the person’s health.
Increase Your HDL Naturally
There are several things you might do to increase level of HDL in your blood. Specialists recommend: Losing weight, Physical activity, Stop smoking, Increase good and decrease bad fats, Eat more soluble fibers.
Obesity and overweight is the most common reason for the decreased HDL and increased LDL cholesterol. Doctors recommend losing the excess weight, because that might raise your HDL and thus lower the risk of coronary artery disease.
Regular exercising, of just 20 to 30 minutes every day is proven to be efficient in raising HDL. Any aerobic activity will be good for you, and you should try walking, biking or jogging.
Smokers often have lower HDL. Leaving the cigarettes will be beneficial for their lungs, heart and the level of good cholesterol.
When it comes to food, people should avoid trans fatty acids and go for monounsaturated fats in their diet. Prepared food is often packed with trans fatty acids (labeled as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), which affect both good and bad cholesterol. They lower HDL (good) and heighten the LDL (bad) cholesterol. Use more peanut butter and olive, canola and avocado oils. These contain monounsaturated fats, which will raise the level of good HDL cholesterol. Too little fat in your diet is not good for you and it doesn’t increase your HDL. Doctors agree that healthy diet should contain around 30% of fat of all your daily calories.
Soluble fibers also have HDL boosting properties if used twice per day. They can be found in vegetables, fruits, oats and legumes.
Doctors concerned about the HDL level in their patients notice that a glass of alcoholic drink every day may be beneficial. You should be aware that anything more than 2 drinks might cause health problems. Food rich in omega 3 fatty acids and cranberry juice are also helpful when trying to raise your HDL level. Postmenopausal women’s HDL may benefit from calcium supplements.
Drugs aren’t successful in raising HDL level. Nicotinic acid is proven to increase HDL, but it has side effects, such as flushing and itching. The only combination that might work is niacin, or nicotinic acid, used with gemfibrozil and cholestyramine. Because of the unpleasant side effects and complicated dosing this combination is rarely used.