6 Tricks to Raise Good Cholesterol
Monitoring your cholesterol is necessary for protecting your heart health and to prevent you from getting heart disease. The “good” kind of cholesterol is known as HDL cholesterol and it’s the kind of cholesterol you should be aiming to get more of (in contrast to LDL, the “bad” cholesterol).
When you have higher HDL levels, you are helping your cholesterol get from your arteries to your liver -- this is where your body can either excrete it or put it to use.
So, here are some tips and tricks for raising your good cholesterol and supporting your heart health.
1. Add “Good” Oils Into Your Diet
Both olive oil and coconut oil have the best benefits of raising good cholesterol.
Olive oil is an excellent example of a healthy monounsaturated fat, and can raise HDL while lowering the risk of heart disease.
Olive oil is an inexpensive way to raise your good cholesterol and it tastes good drizzled on all kinds of healthy foods. The polyphenol antioxidants found in olive oil have been shown to increase good cholesterol, too.
Coconut oil is very heart-healthy and has gotten a bad rap for its high saturated fat content, but it has been proven that the benefits of coconut oil far out-weigh any misconceptions about its health properties.
In fact, coconut oil can raise the HDL cholesterol more than a lot of other types of fat according to some studies and it can actually lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol known as LDL, reducing the risks of heart disease.
Of course, more studies need to be done because the research is inconclusive due to the lack of evidence, but it appears that coconut oil is on the fast track to help improve heart health.
2. Shed Some Weight
One of the best ways to raise your good cholesterol is by losing some extra pounds if you are overweight. Not only does losing weight help your good cholesterol get higher, but it also lowers your bad cholesterol at the same time. That’s a win-win in our book!
Regardless of what type of diet/exercise combo you choose to do, if you're losing weight, you’re improving your good cholesterol and protecting your heart from disease. Just make sure you’re losing weight the right way and aren’t going the route of fad diets or skipping meals without replacing missed nutrients later.
If you are living with diabetes or insulin resistance, then you should consider trying a low carb or ketogenic diet. Research has shown that people who follow low-carb diets tend to raise their good cholesterol faster than those who don’t follow any type of carb-restricted diets.
Avoiding foods like cookies, cakes, fried foods, and certain kinds of margarine can help you reduce your weight. Also, limiting saturated fats that are often found in full-fat dairy products and most meats can help improve your weight loss efforts.
3. Kick Smoking to the Curb
Quitting smoking is like winning the health lottery, there are so many benefits from breaking away from smoking that can add years to your life and prevent an onset of health conditions, including lung cancer and heart disease.
One of the many benefits of quitting smoking is raising good cholesterol. Not only can you see an increase in your good cholesterol once you stop smoking, but you will also find that your HDL function has improved, which helps reduce inflammation.
If you’re a woman, smoking increases your LDL (bad cholesterol levels) and triglycerides faster than in men. Quitting now can help reverse these effects over time.
4. Get Moving
Exercise can improve your health in many ways, including boosting your good cholesterol levels. Aiming to exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes has been shown to improve your good cholesterol and health. Exercise of any kind can be one of the best things for your heart health, especially cardio, high intensity training, and strength training.
Of course, high-intensity exercise will increase your good cholesterol faster than low-intensity exercises, but overall, any activity helps in boosting your HDL levels. Physically active people will have significantly higher levels of good cholesterol vs individuals that aren’t active at all and choose to live a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise also of course supports your overall well-being, benefitting your whole body from your metabolism to your digestion.
5. Skip Processed Foods and Trans Fat
Artificial fats are found in most processed foods and contribute to increased inflammation along with a lot of other health problems. In fact, trans fat may even lower your HDL cholesterol levels -- the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
Consuming excessively high quantities of processed foods, including processed meats like salami or hot sausage, has been linked to increased heart disease and some cancers, including colon cancer.
If you really want to eat baked goods or sweets that usually have tons of processed ingredients and preservatives, try making these at home yourself where you can use better ingredients and have a generally better-for-you treat.
Remember, people who can achieve good cholesterol levels naturally are at a lower risk for stroke and heart attacks. This is why it is important to eat a healthy balanced diet and focus on the things that will raise your good cholesterol, not reduce it.
6. Up Your Intake of Fatty Fish and Antioxidants
If you love salmon, mackerel, herring, or sardines, then you are in luck, because consuming more fatty fish like these helps increase your good cholesterol while also providing other heart-healthy benefits. Even anchovies can help raise your HDL levels.
You should aim to eat fatty fish a few times a week to receive the benefits from the omega-3’s these fish provide.
You can also opt for a fish oil supplement instead to reap the benefits of Omega-3s EPA, DHA, Astaxanthin and Phospholipids without actually having to eat fish!
One of the best ways to get more antioxidants (also known as anthocyanins) is by consuming a lot more purple vegetables and purple fruits. Not only will you be fighting oxidative stress with these fruits and vegetables, but you will also be increasing your good cholesterol.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, head straight to the produce department and pick up some blueberries, blackberries, dark black raspberries, eggplant, and some red cabbage. These all provide an excellent source of antioxidants and can help raise your good cholesterol levels.
All the tricks we suggested above to raise your good cholesterol also provide a ton of other health benefits. Raising your HDL levels is just one of the many benefits when trying to improve your overall health, and the efforts you make to raising good cholesterol will cross over into other benefits of health as well!
Don’t forget to explore supplements, too -- there are tons of different supplements out there that can support whatever you need help with, including supplements that help improve cholesterol!
So, eat a well-balanced diet, quit smoking, and start exercising, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a healthy lifestyle before you know it, HDL and all!