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5 Ways to Raise Healthy Cholesterol

There’s been some evidence suggesting that increasing HDL (aka the good cholesterol) can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke — even without changes in LDL (aka the bad cholesterol). Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests these five things people can do to raise their HDL levels:

  1. Get aerobic exercise. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise can boost HDL by 5 to 10 percent. Aim for five 30-minute sessions per week.
  2. Lose weight if you need to. If you’re overweight or obese, you can boost your HDL level by about 1 mg/dL for every 7 pounds lost, although any amount of weight loss will help.
  3. If you smoke, quit. HDL levels rise by as much as 15 to 20 percent after you quit.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid trans fats, which increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates, such as white-flour products.
  5. Consider medications. Niacin, available over the counter, is the most effective HDL-raising medication available. Niacin can be strong medicine — work with your clinician if you want to try it.

What's more? These tips will also improve your overall health, not just HDL levels. How many of them do you do?


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I really wondered how you'd raise your HDL but no one ever talks about that. These methods would work at lowering cholesterol too and are things you should be doing anyway to live a healthy life.
teacherturtle1 teacherturtle1 9 years
mmm... i just saw a pizza hut ad above the link to this article.. i got hungry :p but pizza hut isn't very healty.. hmm... anyways.. hahaha.. yeah niacin is known to cause people to get heat flashes. i guess, but i don't know for sure, but i think it causes your blood vessels to open up more, because people seem so flushed when they take mega doses of niacin. i guess people take niacin to flush out their body as well.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Since hypercholesterolemia runs in my family, I get my cholesterol checked every 2-3 years and have been doing that since I was 18. My levels are always very good, but my HDL levels are a little lower than I'd like them to be. So I've been trying to raise them by working out and eating a diet low in saturated/trans fats. My dad's HDL levels were really low and his doctor did put him on Niacin for it. Warning: if you do take Niacin, it will probably give you hot flashes at night when you're trying to sleep. Just a heads up :)
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