A widespread misconception is that cholesterol is generally bad and that a high level is always concerning. However, there is actually a type of cholesterol that is not only beneficial at high levels but also reduces the risk of major health problems such as heart disease. This type of cholesterol truly exists; it is called HDL cholesterol, often referred to as our “good” cholesterol.
Natural Methods to Increase HDL Cholesterol Levels
So, if there is cholesterol that is genuinely good for us, how can we naturally increase its levels? The short answer is through lifestyle changes. Your lifestyle has the greatest impact on your HDL cholesterol levels. By modifying daily habits that are entirely within your control, such as diet and physical activity, you can improve your HDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening health issues. Let's start improving those HDL cholesterol numbers because positive change can begin today!
1. Refrain from Smoking
Smoking negatively affects HDL levels, lowering them and increasing the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Quitting smoking is essential for improving overall health, including HDL cholesterol levels.
2. Engage in More Exercise
Daily exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy body. Increased physical activity directly contributes to higher HDL cholesterol levels. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine to reap the many benefits, including improved HDL levels.
3. Reduce Body Weight
Even losing just a few pounds can improve your HDL cholesterol. For every kilogram and a half of weight loss, your HDL can increase by one milligram per deciliter. Addressing obesity and achieving a healthier weight can significantly impact your HDL levels.
4. Consume Healthier Fats
Avoid trans fats commonly found in solid margarines, baked goods, and fried fast foods. Instead, consume more healthy fats such as those found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, and salmon. These healthy fats help balance LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol, promoting a healthier heart.
5. Reduce Refined Carbohydrates
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar, negatively impacts HDL levels. By reducing your intake of these types of carbohydrates and opting for high-quality and healthier carbohydrates found in sprouted bread and fruits, you can improve your HDL levels.
6. Maintain Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to overall well-being, including health. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Remember to adhere to the recommended limits of up to one drink per day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two drinks per day for men under 65. Choose organic red wine as a healthier option but avoid excessive consumption.
7. Increase Intake of Niacin
Niacin is a B vitamin that helps transfer cholesterol to the liver for excretion. Increasing your intake of niacin-rich foods or supplements may potentially raise your HDL cholesterol levels. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
By following these natural methods, you can take practical and effective steps to increase your HDL cholesterol levels and promote better heart health. Making these changes today will lead to a healthier future.