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HDL or high-density lipoprotein, is what we call 'good' cholesterol. The presence of this kind of cholesterol in the body is healthy, and increasing this in a variety of ways can help with preventing heart disease and other such problems. HDL flows through the body via the blood stream, and picks up the LDL, or low-density lipoprotein ('bad' cholesterol). It then brings this LDL to the liver, which is disposed thereon. Thus, it is important to raise HDL to lower LDL. HDL also helps in blood clotting, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Gender Desirable Levels Risky Levels
Men 60 mg/dl and higher 40 mg/dl or lower
Women 60 mg/dl and higher 50 mg/dl or lower

A test for your cholesterol levels will give you your figures, which you can use as a reference to understand where you stand. It is better to raise HDL naturally, rather than taking medicines to do so.

Eat Right
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids are other essential foods that ought to be part of your diet. Foods such as fish, safflower oil, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil, all provide this nutrient in abundance.
  • Avoid fried foods, cheese, and foods high in sugar, as these are the main culprits behind high LDL.
  • Include niacin (vitamin B3) rich foods in your diet. Such foods include peanuts, salmon, veal, white meat turkey, chicken, peanut butter, and pork. However, consume these in a limited amount, on a regular basis.
  • Include soy in your diet, as studies have shown that soy has compounds that help reduce LDL levels in the body. It is also rich in fiber, that is an essential part of any diet.
  • Vegetables and fruits are essential components of a healthy diet, and are foods that lower cholesterol in the body naturally. Onions and dark green vegetables, mainly contribute to increased HDL levels, as do apples, and citrus fruits.
  • Fiber rich foods such as whole grains in the form of bran, oats, brown rice and legumes help in maintaining cholesterol levels. Steer clear of refined flour products such as white bread and pasta. Also avoid white rice.
  • Once in a while, include a glass of red wine in your diet. It is known to have properties that allow HDL to remain in the body for longer periods by slowing down their oxidation process, thus making them more productive.
Lose Weight
If you are overweight, you are likely to develop the risk of high cholesterol levels and blood pressure, further leading to heart problems. To solve this problem at the root, follow an exercise regime, in combination with a healthy diet, that includes all the above mentioned foods. Include at least 30 minutes of high intensity exercise in your daily schedule, which will significantly help in lowering cholesterol naturally.

Give up Smoking
Smoking causes innumerable health problems, one of which is reducing the HDL in the body, and reducing the ability of the blood to clot. Not only that, the compounds that enter your body upon smoking, reduce the capacity of the HDL to eliminate the LDL, and indirectly contribute to high cholesterol levels. So if you wish to increase HDL cholesterol in your body, try to stop smoking.

Embrace Alcohol
This does not mean you become a compulsive drinker. This means that including a glass of alcohol in your daily diet, will indeed help you raise HDL levels in your body. However, you have to stop right there. Crossing the line of control will lead to several health problems caused by alcohol, such as damage to the liver.

These are simple lifestyle changes that can significantly raise HDL cholesterol and subsequently lower LDL cholesterol. In fact, incorporating these changes will not only affect your cholesterol, but will tackle several other health problems, and enable you to lead an overall healthy lifestyle.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.