Navigating the world with high cholesterol can sometimes seem near impossible when faced with the endless choices you have to make every day. But if you follow these rules, your cholesterol levels may improve, but just the good one, HDL.

You’ve probably heard of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The good and the bad, respectively. But did you know that there are effective ways to raise HDL cholesterol levels and protect your heart health?

HDL cholesterol carries excess cholesterol to the liver so it doesn’t build up in the bloodstream. But when LDL cholesterol moves cholesterol throughout your body, it can build up in the walls of arteries, making them hard and narrow. If you have too little HDL cholesterol and too much LDL cholesterol, you may be diagnosed with high cholesterol, a condition that can lead to atherosclerosis, angina (often felt as chest pain), heart attack, and heart attack. stroke. Read on to discover ways to raise HDL cholesterol and the evidence behind them.

Start exercising regularly and stick to it.

We have all heard it before. Regular exercise is important for maintaining heart health and can also raise HDL cholesterol levels. Physical activities such as running, walking, bicycling, and swimming, as well as moderate weight training, are great choices to help raise good cholesterol levels. A study published in June 2020 in the American Journal of Physiology found that endurance training led to a significant increase in HDL levels. For both men and women, the review cited a number of studies in which subjects performed moderate to vigorous exercise at least three days a week. This was also the case for body types ranging from overweight beginners to marathon runners. Exercise is great because it can independently increase HDL levels, but also because it leads to weight loss, which may explain additional HDL gains.

Lose and keep your excess pounds

If you’re overweight or obese, shedding those extra pounds can help raise HDL cholesterol levels. Losing about 7% of your total weight is enough to cause a metabolic change. Abdominal obesity, fat that accumulates around the waist rather than in the hips and thighs, appears to be associated with a risk of heart disease and lower levels of good cholesterol.
Effective weight loss methods include diet, exercise, and surgery. A comparative study published in December 2018 in found that obese participants who underwent sleeve gastrectomy, a type of weight loss surgery, had a significant increase in their HDL cholesterol 12 months later.

Stop smoking

We know that smoking cigarettes can lead to a number of health problems, including lung disease, cancers and an increased risk of heart attack. But did you know that smoking can also suppress or lower good cholesterol levels? Smoking can lower HDL cholesterol in several ways, including inhibiting HDL synthesis, blocking its maturation, and accelerating its clearance and metabolism. Quitting smoking can help your HDL synthesis and metabolism return to their natural levels, so HDL can do its job better again. And research agrees. A study published in September 2013 in Biomarker Research found that ex-smokers had higher HDL cholesterol levels than smokers, noting: We conclude that quitting smoking increases HDL cholesterol, and that this increase occurs rapidly after smoking cessation, with no clear pattern of change thereafter. If you’re trying to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about the many methods that can help you with this process.

Become a pescatarian

Following a pescatarian diet: Eating mostly fish, fruits, vegetables, and plant foods can raise HDL cholesterol. In a study published in July 2016 in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that a diet rich in foods including fatty fish showed an increase in HDL particles in the body, especially compared to lean fish and meat.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the type of fatty acids found in fish, can help raise your HDL cholesterol. Two servings of fatty fish per week, including salmon, mackerel, or albacore tuna, can help you reach your omega-3 goals. You’ll also find omega-3s in flaxseeds, mixed greens, and nuts.

Have a glass of wine (or not)

Drinking in moderation may increase good cholesterol levels. At least that’s what some research says. A review published in October 2019 in the journal Molecules concluded that drinking red wine (in moderation), which contains the antioxidant compound resveratrol, may have a protective effect on the heart, but more research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved. But you don’t have to drink a glass of wine to raise your HDL cholesterol. The antioxidants found in red wine can also be found in fruits such as blueberries, grape juice, dark chocolate, and peanuts. If you do decide to drink, remember to do so in moderation. You know? One drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men.

Reduce your sugar intake

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as foods with added sugar, white bread, cookies and cakes, lowers HDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of metabolic disorders, according to a study published in November 2015 in Nature. Refined carbs found in foods labeled “low fat” make them just as bad as whole foods because fat is often replaced with carbs from added sugar and other starches. A study of 2,500 people with diabetes, published in October 2016 in the journal Nutrition Metabolism Cardiovascular Disease, found that following nutritional recommendations to limit added sugar in the diet was linked to significantly lower HDL cholesterol levels. higher.

An observational study published in February 2020 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, which followed 6,000 subjects for an average of 12.5 years, found that sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice had a negative effect on lipoprotein concentrations. When trying to reduce added sugars in your diet, it’s best to slowly replace sugars with fruits and vegetables. Also try to avoid trans fats, including foods that are fried or prepared with shortening, as these can also lower HDL.

Cook with healthy oils

Not all oils are created equal when it comes to your heart health. Olive oil and sunflower oil are mostly unsaturated fats, which can lower LDL cholesterol and at the same time raise HDL cholesterol. In a February 2019 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers found that high polyphenol olive oil increased HDL cholesterol levels by almost 50%. Research also shows that coconut oil is beneficial for raising HDL, although it’s not the best oil for the heart due to its high saturated fat content, which can raise LDL cholesterol.

Eat more antioxidant-rich foods

A study published in January 2016 in the journal Nutrients found that a diet rich in antioxidants increases HDL cholesterol levels compared to triglycerides and may be associated with a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure and biomarkers. inflammatory. Foods high in antioxidants include dark chocolate, berries, avocados, nuts, kale, beets, and spinach. Treat yourself to foods high in antioxidants to raise HDL cholesterol. The more colors you can incorporate into your diet, the better.

Talk to your doctor about supplements and cholesterol

If all other methods of raising your HDL cholesterol have not been effective, you may consider taking dietary supplements. However, supplements aimed at increasing HDL only do so modestly. Also, the supplements have not yet been proven to reduce heart attacks or strokes. Consult your doctor before taking supplements to raise HDL cholesterol levels, as some of them carry health risks or may interact with medications.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.