There's "good" cholesterol (HDL) and there's "bad" cholesterol (LDL). Lowering your LDL is one of the important factors in lowering your risk for heart disease but what's also important for a healthy heart is boosting your HDL.
The Heart Lung and Blood Institute says a HDL lower than 40 mg/dL is a major risk factor for heart disease. A HDL of 60 mg/dL or higher actually is thought to give you some protection against heart disease. Here are a few ideas on how to boost your HDL -- naturally!
Work it out! At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week can raise your HDL levels and can also help control blood pressure and aid in weight loss. 30 minutes at a time tough? Break it into 10 minute segments. Check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Swap saturated and trans fats, like butter, with mono-and polyunsaturated fats, like olive or canola oil. Read the labels and choose foods with zero grams of trans fat when possible. Other healthy fats include omega-3 fats, which can be found in soybean oil, flaxseed, walnuts and fatty fish.
Quit smoking: Tobacco, both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, reduces HDL.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, consider losing weight. Your HDL levels may drop slightly during weight loss, but the real benefit kicks in once you maintain a healthy weight.
Created on 12/02/2011
Updated on 12/07/2011
- United States Department of Health and Human Services: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with TLC.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. How is high blood cholesterol diagnosed?
- Singh IM, Shishehbor MH, Ansell BJ. High-density lipoprotein as a therapeutic target. A systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2007;298(7):786-798.