HDL Cholesterol – Is it Good for You?
Do you know that High-density lipoproteins or HDL cholesterol, is actually good for you? HDL is considered to be good cholesterol since it serves to transport cholesterol found in the blood over to the liver where it breaks down and is removed from the body. By eliminating excess cholesterol, HDL helps to reduce plaque build-up on your artery walls. It is essential to try to maintain your LDL or bad cholesterol level low, but it is also important to try to keep your HDL good cholesterol high.
Want to know what are the HDL cholesterol levels and how do they significantly affect your heart health? According to the American Heart Association, higher levels of HDL or good cholesterol are better.
- lower than 40 mg/dL – HDL cholesterol level that is lower than 40 mg/dL is considered to be low and puts one at increased risk of developing heart disease.
- 40 to 59 mg/dL – The higher the level of your HDL cholesterol, the better.
- 60 mg/dL or higher – HDL cholesterol level of 60 mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease.
According to NIH, women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol than men. Men are at particular risk if their HDL is below 37 mg/dL while women are at particular risk if their HDL is below 47 mg/dL.
If you have the appropriate level of HDL in your body, the likelihood that the cholesterol located in your blood will form deposits in your coronary arteries are significantly reduced. Keeping your LDL (bad cholesterol) at a low level and the HDL (good cholesterol) at a high level will diminish your probability of acquiring heart disease and atherosclerosis. High levels of HDL can actually protect you from cardiovascular diseases, therefore it is important to know how to raise good cholesterol level to protect yourself from acquiring heart disease.
For adults twenty years old and over, it is recommended to maintain a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl, HDL cholesterol level higher than 40 mg/dl and LDL cholesterol level below 100 mg/dl.
How to Increase Good Cholesterol with Lifestyle Changes
Many are interested in knowing how to increase good cholesterol through natural ways. To raise your HDL level, there are lifestyle changes that you may need to make. Those who smoke tobacco can increase their good cholesterol level by avoiding and quitting smoking altogether. If you are overweight, reducing your weight can cause an increase in your HDL (good cholesterol) level. Maintain a healthy weight and try to get regular exercise by engaging in at least 30 minutes of physical activity throughout most days of the week. Physical exercises or even walking has been shown to increase your HDL or good cholesterol level.
How to Increase Good Cholesterol with Good Cholesterol Foods
Making changes to your diet is another way to raise your good cholesterol level. This means consuming good cholesterol food sources such as good fats and eliminating the bad fats from your diet. Good cholesterol foods consist of unsaturated fats that can be found in vegetable oils, seeds and nuts. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are unsaturated fats which have been shown to reduce your LDL cholesterol and increase your HDL good cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats are contained in high levels in vegetable oils, such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils. Monounsaturated fats are found in abundant quantities in olive oil, peanut and canola oils. Fish, nuts and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are other good cholesterol foods to raise good cholesterol levels, and reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
In order to increase your good cholesterol level and appreciably lower your bad cholesterol level, it is necessary to cut out the trans fatty acids and saturated fats from your diet. Food items like margarines and commercial baked products contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which are considered to be trans fats and therefore must be eliminated from your diet to improve your good cholesterol levels. Consuming the proper amount of soluble fiber in your diet, as contained in vegetables, fruits, oats, and legumes is another good way of reducing LDL and improving the HDL or good cholesterol level in your body.