HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol – The Good Stuff

High-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is considered to be “good” cholesterol because with HDL more is better. High levels of HDL can decrease the chance of heart attack while low levels can increase the chance of heart disease. The reason for this is believed to be because HDL carries cholesterol away from arteries to the liver where it is passed from the body. Some experts even think that HDL removes the cholesterol residue from arterial plaque which slows down build up.

HDL Levels

With HDL being good for you and higher levels being ideal what should you target as a good ratio of cholesterol. Normal levels in men should range from 40 to 50 mg/dL and 50 to 60 mg/dL in women. Ideally one should try to have numbers above 60 mg/dL to give some protection against heart disease.

Most of the attention in the past has been solely on LDL cholesterol in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It was once thought that if you had normal levels of LDL and total cholesterol, then you were low risk. Recently, it has been proven that low levels of HDL can increase the risk of heart disease independently from high levels of LDL.

How to increase your HDL concentration

Anyone that has an HDL level below 40 mg/DL should take steps to increase their HDL. This is true even if total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels are within normal ranges. Some things you can do to begin raising HDL are:

  • Aerobic Exercise
  • Eliminate Trans Fatty Acids
  • Stop Smoking
  • One Alcoholic Drink/Day
  • Eat Monounsaturated Fats
  • Two Servings of Soluble Fiber/Day

Foods that raise HDL

Your lifestyle habits are going to have the most impact on your HDL cholesterol. Consuming unprocessed vegetable fats can help raise HDL cholestrol without the negative effects of saturated and trans fats found in animal and dairy fat. Fish with omega 3 or supplements containing the fish oil will increase HDL. Drinking 1 or 2 alcoholic beverages a day and adding soluble fiber found in oats, fruits, and vegetables are great.

Now, pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a drug that will raise HDL cholesterol with the least side effects. We should expect some break throughs in research from the drug industry regarding HDL…

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