Good Cholesterol! Is there such a thing? Yes there is ! HDL ( High Density Lipo Proteins). They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess bad cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it’s broken down. The higher your HDL level, the less “bad” cholesterol ( LDL) you’ll have in your blood. I always had good cholesterol until a year back. At my last physical my doctor asked me to go on statins since my HDL was dipping and my LDL was increasing. I asked the doctor to give me 3 months and started an aggressive regimen of foods that could increase my HDL. It worked! I am doing great! No meds ! A desirable range for Good cholesterol for men and women is 60mg/dl. The best way to improve HDL is through lifestyle changes. Even small changes to your daily habits can help you meet your HDL target. Want to know what they are, read on….
Tips to improve good cholesterol
Exercise: When trying to increase HDL, it is important to remember that duration and the intensity of the workout is most beneficial. Aerobic exercises which increase your heart rate like swimming, cycling, walking, walking using a tread mill or elliptical trainer, running, jump roping are your best bet. Aim to get at-least 90 minutes or 4 bouts of 20- 30 minutes/day. If you have trouble fitting 3o minutes / day you can do 3 ten minute work outs and still get the same benefits. This will also help with weight loss which brings me to my next point.
Lose Weight: Every pound of extra weight that you carry increases your bad cholesterol also know as LDL ( Low Density Lipo protein). Conversely losing weight makes HDL more effective at flushing the bad cholesterol away from the heart. Excercise and healthy eating habits can help you achieve that!
Natural Supplements : Fish oil is beneficial, especially if you don’t consume fish in large quantities. Just make sure it is mercury free. I take a fish oil supplement regularly. Alternatives to fish oil for vegans are krill oil and flax oil. Niacin or B2 is another beneficial supplement that can raise HDL levels Just check with your doctor before taking niacin. It may interfere with any other drugs you take and overdose can cause side effects.
Foods That Can Boost Your Good Cholesterol !
Contrary to expectations you don’t eat “low Fat” to raise HDL. You omit “bad fats ” from your diet and eat healthy fats which boost your healthy cholesterol ! Talk about beating fat with fat !
Fish such as salmon, trout mackerel contain an active ingredient called omega-3 fatty acids which has been proven to boost levels of good cholesterol. If you don’t eat too much fish, consider a fish oil supplement.
A good source of omega 3 for vegans and vegetarians.Grind flax seeds into flax meal with a blender or coffee grinder or simply purchase ground flax seeds. Whole flax seeds will simply pass through your digestive tract–preventing the release of the fatty acids and absorption of soluble fiber.
All types of beans and lentils can help to boost your levels of good cholesterol. Eating a cup of cooked dried beans a day can suppress bad cholesterol by 20 per cent.
Soy products, such as tempeh, soy beans, soy nuts, soy milk and tofu contains isoflavones, which lower your LDL cholesterol and thus raise the ratio of HDL to LDL.
Tea has an antioxidant called flavonoids which boosts HDL while decreasing LDL. Researchers claim two or three cups of black or green tea a day, either caffeinated or decaffeinated should benefit your cholesterol levels.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are beneficial in increasing HDL levels.
olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fat which has been shown to both reduce bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. It works by preventing the bad cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls.
Fruits and veggies containing vitamin C
Vitamin C protects good cholesterol and stop bad cholesterol from sticking to the body’s artery walls. Vitamin C diminishes as it is cooked or if it is stored for too long so eat raw fruit and vegetables containing vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries, cauliflower, broccoli and grapefruit regularly.
Oats contain beta glucans, a fiber that dissolves and sticks to the walls of the intestine. This interferes with the absorption of bad cholesterol.
Garlic and Onions
Onions contain adenosine and other “blood thinners” that help to prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition to thinning the blood, onions can help keep the coronary arteries open and clear by increasing the HDL. Eating half a raw onion every day can increase HDL by 20 to 30 percent. Garlic contains allicin which has the same effect. More active in raw form, so try to eat onion in salads and blend garlic into dips.
Walnuts and other nuts
Walnuts are a great source of omega -3 fatty acids. In general nuts are high in vitamin E and heart healthy oils that can raise HDL.
Flavonoids in cranberry are beneficial in giving HDL a boost and helping control cholesterol. Drink pure cranberry juice mixed with water to make cran -water.