How to Increase HDL Cholesterol – Foods

Cholesterol is a naturally available substance in the bodies. It has a wax like and soft appearance and plays a part in the manufacture of cell membranes and certain hormones. However, increased quantities of cholesterol in the body can cause it to accumulate in the arteries, thereby increasing its vulnerability to harden or narrow. Such constriction of the arteries can eventually result in decrease or stoppage of the oxygen supplying blood to the heart.

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What is HDL cholesterol ?

HDL or high density lipoproteins, is a form of cholesterol that is vital for the effective and proper functioning of the human body as well as the overall health of the heart. It is considered as the ‘good cholesterol.

There are two main kinds of cholesterol, namely, LDL or bad cholesterol and HDL or good cholesterol. It may be noted that the levels of both these forms of cholesterol can cause the various body functions to change, and hence one needs to keep their levels in check and within the normal range. It is the LDL cholesterol which is responsible for obstruction of the arteries, while the HDL cholesterol plays an important role in the prevention of bad cholesterol buildup in the arteries. When the needed levels of HDL are absent, or when unwanted or abnormal levels of LDL are present, then it can lead to the development of various health complications. During the era gone by, individuals with high cholesterol were always advised to lower the LDL levels with no importance being given to the HDL levels. It is only now that we have become aware of the need to raise the HDL levels as well. Hence to maintain the overall health of the body, one must be aware of the normal range of HDL cholesterol levels.

Normal HDL cholesterol levels

  • All levels of cholesterol are calculated in mg/dL or milligrams per deciliter of blood. When an individual gets a test done for verifying the levels of HDL cholesterol, then it will usually involve a checkup of the complete blood cholesterol levels, which in turn will also indicate the levels of LDL cholesterol.
  • The normal range of HDL cholesterol levels will differ as per the genders. For adults, the normal HDL cholesterol levels range from 35 mg/dL to 60 mg/dL, while for children under the age of nineteen years old, it is 35 mg/dL. When the level of HDL cholesterol is over 60 mg/dL, then it is termed as high HDL. Low levels of HDL cholesterol signify increased susceptibility to developing cardiovascular abnormalities.
    • The normal range for HDL cholesterol levels in men, are the HDL measurements falling between 40 mg/dL and 50 mg/dL
    • The normal range for HDL cholesterol levels in women, are the HDL measurements falling between 50 mg/dL to 60 mg/dL
    • The normal range for HDL cholesterol level in women is higher as compared to men due to the occurrence of female sex hormones. These levels in women and men can be lowered or altered due to a number of factors such as excessive intake of alcohol, obesity, smoking and junk food

How to Increase HDL Cholesterol Levels

Some of the ways to increase the levels of HDL cholesterol include dietary and lifestyle changes which include the following:

  • There are a number of reasons for one to shed the excess weight and sustain a healthy weight, and increasing the HDL level is just one of them. It may be noted that one can enhance the HDL cholesterol levels even by dropping only a few pounds. For every two pounds of lost weight, the HDL levels are raised by 0.35 mg/dL, which equates to around 1 mg/dL for every six pounds
  • One can also increase the HDL cholesterol levels by regular exercises. It may be noted that the HDL levels are raised by nearly five percent after two months of aerobic exercise done regularly.
  • One of the best ways to up the HDL cholesterol level is to have a healthy diet that is rich in fiber and low in fat. It is important to note that less than 25 to 35 percent of the total everyday calories should be obtained from fat, of which the saturated fat should be responsible for less than seven percent. One can increase the HLD levels and also lower LDL levels at the same time by the intake of foods that are rich in soluble fiber such as oat bran and oatmeal; nuts like walnuts and almonds; Omega-3 essential fatty acids, avocados and fatty fish. Avoid trans and saturated fat in the diet and instead opt for health fats like canola, peanut and olive oil.
  • The levels of HDL are affected by smoking and alcohol consumption. Hence, it is important for smokers to quit smoking and also restrict the amount of alcohol intake. This will definitely aid in raising the HDL cholesterol levels.
  • If necessary, the doctor may prescribe medications such as niacin, statins or fibrates to improve the cholesterol levels. However, patients should continue to adhere to the above listed steps in addition to intake of the drugs, so as to maintain healthy HDL cholesterol levels.

It is important to visit a doctor at least twice a year and get the cholesterol levels checked. This is especially true in cases of people who have a family history of heart conditions.


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