Protect Yourself: How to Increase your HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol.

Having high HDL levels helps transport cholesterol from your arteries to your liver, where it can be used or excreted. In addition increased levels of HDL have both and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefit.

When it comes to cholesterol, it’s mostly about the numbers. While genetics definitely play a role, there are several other factors that affect HDL levels

The combination of low LDL “bad” cholesterol and trying to increase HDL “good” cholesterol is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease

Here are five healthy ways to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.

  1. Eat olive oil

    How to Increase your HDL Cholesterol

    • Extra virgin olive oil may be more healthful than processed olive oils.
    • Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats around.
    • Research has shown that one of olive oil’s heart-healthy effects is an increase in HDL cholesterol. This effect is thought to be caused by antioxidants it contains called polyphenols

    Singh Snapshot: Extra virgin olive oil with a high polyphenol content has been shown to increase HDL levels in healthy people, the elderly and individuals with high cholesterol.

  2. Exercise regularly

    Exercise Regularly

    • Being physically active is important for heart health.
    • Studies have shown that many different types of exercise are effective at raising HDL cholesterol, including strength training, high-intensity exercise and aerobic exercise
    • However, the biggest increases in HDL are typically seen with high-intensity exercise.

    Singh Snapshot: Exercising several times per week can help raise HDL cholesterol and enhance its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. High-intensity forms of exercise may be especially effective.

  3. Stub out smoking

    Stub out Smoking

    • Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer.
    • Smoking increases the risk of many health problems, including heart disease and 
    • One of its negative effects is a suppression of HDL cholesterol.
    • Studies have found that nicotine replacement therapy can lead to higher HDL cholesterol and HDL function improved, resulting in less inflammation and other beneficial effects on heart health

    Singh Snapshot: Quitting smoking can increase HDL levels, improve HDL function and help protect heart health.

  4. Lose weight

    lose Weight

    • When overweight and obese people lose weight, their HDL cholesterol levels usually increase.
    • What’s more, this benefit seems to occur whether weight loss is achieved by calorie counting, carb restriction, intermittent fasting, weight loss surgery or a combination of diet and exercise
    • The researchers found that losing at least 6.6 lbs (3 kg) led to an increase in HDL cholesterol of 4 mg/dl, on average

    Singh Snapshot: Several methods of weight loss have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese. The key to achieving and maintaining healthy HDL cholesterol levels is choosing the type of diet that makes it easiest for you to lose weight and keep it off.

  5. Fish: Oily is Better

    Fish oily is better

    • The omega-3 fats in fatty fish provide major benefits to heart health, including a reduction in inflammation and better functioning of the cells that line your arteries
    • There’s research showing that eating fatty fish or taking fish oil may also help raise low levels of HDL cholesterol.

    In addition to herring, other types of fatty fish that may help raise HDL cholesterol include salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.

    Singh Snapshot: Eating fatty fish several times per week may help increase HDL cholesterol levels and provide other benefits to heart health. Fatty fish that may help raise HDL cholesterol:

    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Mackerel
    • Anchovies
    • Herring
    • Tuna

    Bottom Line

    Although your HDL cholesterol levels are partly determined by your genetics, there are many things you can do to naturally increase your own levels.


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