Three Things Everyone Needs to Know About Increasing HDL

The kind of cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is what is left of much larger pieces of cholesterol (known as LDL) after they have been put to use by cells throughout the body. Serving as a building material and as a fuel, every cell in the human body depends on cholesterol, and most cells in the human body can make some, but not all, of their own cholesterol. This fatty substance is so important to human life that the liver is able to take leftover fats and sugars and turn them into cholesterol, regardless of how much cholesterol you consume in your diet.

The way to get higher HDL is to lower your LDL, not by depriving your body of cholesterol, but by making sure it uses LDL cholesterol in the right ways. Here are the three most important ways to lower your bad, LDL cholesterol and raise your good, HDL cholesterol.

  1. Exercise.
  2. The harder your work out, the more LDL cholesterol you convert into HDL cholesterol as your muscles convert LDL cholesterol into triglycerides and triglycerides into energy. Endurance exercise, preferably for about 45 minutes (or more) per session is better than high-intensity exercise that you do quickly.

  3. Losing weight.
  4. The body stores excess fat and sugar as triglycerides. Some of these triglycerides get turned into LDL cholesterol. After you lose about 10 pounds (4.5 kilos), you will probably have measurably lower LDL and measurably higher HDL. While you are losing weight, however, your cholesterol levels may actually go up, because your fat cells are releasing energy, some of it to be burned, some of it turned into cholesterol by the liver. Losing weight by working out is much harder, but it helps you raise HDL and lower LDL faster.

  5. Supplements.
  6. Several supplements help you raise HDL as you lower LDL. The Ayurvedic remedy guggul, for example, is a good way to lower triglycerides and LDL, with your HDL levels going up after your LDL levels go down, usually after 3 to 4 months. Pantethine, also known as vitamin B5, raises LDL without the side effects of statin drugs. Psyllium, also used as a laxative, lowers cholesterol by keeping the cholesterol in food from entering your body. Since different products are formulated in different strengths, follow label directions to determine the right dosage for you.

What about food cures to achieve a normal cholesterol range? There is evidence that orange juice, oat bran, fish oil, olive oil, raw onion, hawthorn berry teas (popular in Chinese and Korean cuisine), almonds, pecans, macadamias, and pistachios all can lower LDL and raise HDL, provided you consume them as part of a restricted-calorie diet. Stuffing yourself and then eating a little bit of healthy food won’t lower your LDL or raise your HDL, but replacing high-calorie foods with these healthier selections may.