How Do I Raise Good Cholesterol?

Tiffany Manley

Scientific evidence suggests that high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol for people to have in their bodies. It might help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries or might even help prevent heart disease in elevated levels. If you would like to raise good cholesterol levels, you might consider exercising regularly, losing any excess weight, avoiding smoking, eating good fats, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and eating whole grains. Studies suggest that niacin might also raise good cholesterol levels, but it can cause side effects in certain individuals, so it is best to check with a medical professional before taking a niacin supplement.

Bowl of oatmeal.
Bowl of oatmeal.

Regular exercise has been shown to raise good cholesterol levels over a period of time. You might engage in aerobic activities such as walking, biking, running, or swimming to help raise your HDL levels. The general recommendation is to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week, but if time constraints are an issue, the 30 minutes can be broken up into smaller segments throughout the day.

Eating walnuts might increase HDL levels.
Eating walnuts might increase HDL levels.

Excess weight usually has a bad effect on good cholesterol levels and increases bad cholesterol levels. By losing weight, you have a good chance of increasing your good cholesterol levels. When combining regular exercise and better eating habits, you are using three methods of increasing your HDL levels while losing weight and becoming healthier.

Unsaturated fats are better than saturated fats.
Unsaturated fats are better than saturated fats.

Experts agree that there are many health benefits to quitting smoking. One of these benefits is increased HDL levels. If you smoke and would like to raise good cholesterol levels in your body, you might try consulting a doctor to learn about various methods of quitting.

It is normal for fats to be a part of a daily diet, but these should not be saturated fats or trans fats. Oils such as peanut, canola and olive oil are known to be healthy fats that might help raise good cholesterol. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts are a good option.

Moderate alcohol consumption of one to two drinks a day might also raise HDL levels. It is recommended to drink alcohol with meals for the best benefit. If you do not currently drink alcohol, however, experts recommend that you should avoid starting just to raise HDL levels.

Foods such as whole grains might raise good cholesterol levels as well. Oatmeal, fish, walnuts and flaxseed are all foods that might help increase your HDL levels. It is best to eat these foods in the most natural state possible, avoiding processed versions that might have had many nutrients removed.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is commonly known as the "good" cholesterol, while low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is labeled as the "bad" cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is commonly known as the "good" cholesterol, while low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is labeled as the "bad" cholesterol.

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