How To Raise Good Cholesterol
Cholesterol carries a negative connotation: it’s bad for the health. But the truth is, not all cholesterol is bad. There is in fact good cholesterol, known as the high density lipids or HDL. And while the lifestyle and food sources of today make it so much easier to accumulate low density lipids (LDL) or the bad cholesterol, there are actually ways to raise good cholesterol to lessen the risk of suffering heart attacks or strokes.
The primary function of HDL is to free blood vessel walls of excess bad cholesterol that may otherwise form plaques which are responsible for coronary artery disease. It then transports these back to the liver for processing. The body is actually capable of producing the cholesterol it needs through the liver. HDL levels deemed normal are in the range of 40 mg/dL to 60 mg/dL. But research has indicated that levels beyond 60 mg/dL may actually decrease the risk of heart disease. Further, studies have shown it is possible to raise good cholesterol to better get rid of excess bad cholesterol.
Exercise, especially aerobics, raise the heart rate, effectively increases HDL levels. This includes activities such as jogging, walking or even biking, even for just 20 to 30 minutes at a time, as long as it elevates the heart rate level. And don’t think intensity means it will be more effective. The fact is, duration is the more crucial factor that will help raise good cholesterol.
It goes without saying that being overweight means more bad cholesterol is stored in the body. Moreover, as the LDL levels increase, the HDL decreases. So by simply shedding those unhealthy excess pounds, especially around the abdominal areas, you can raise good cholesterol and protect yourself from a heart attack.
Reducing fat intake, especially saturated fats or those from animal and dairy sources, is one of the most sensible ways to raise good cholesterol. Since saturated fats are the main contributors that raise bad cholesterol levels, it is logical that by cutting them out of the diet or at least consuming less of them, LDL will decrease and HDL will increase striking the right balance.
Alcohol, especially red wine, can also help raise good cholesterol provided only one or two glasses a day are consumed. Red wine is said to contain chemicals that have antioxidant properties that help ward off bad cholesterol from sticking to arterial walls, while its alcoholic content actually raises HDL levels to become more efficient at sweeping excess LDL cholesterol.
Other known foods found to have been able to raise good cholesterol include fish that are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, cranberry juice, and even calcium supplements. Including foods high in soluble fiber like oats, fruits and vegetables and legumes will also reduce bad cholesterol while increasing HDL levels.
Cholesterol per se is not bad, as long as there is a balance of the good and bad. It does play a role for each body system to function properly. The fact that it can be manufactured internally and in sufficient amounts actually means that there is little need to supplement it through diet. But since the majority of people take in more of the bad, it pays to know simple tips to raise good cholesterol and stay healthy.