Alright, it's time to learn how to increase good cholesterol (officially called HDL cholesterol), with the purpose of decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
If you have browsed this site and read about cholesterol (or if you have even just a bit of knowledge), you know that cholesterol can be divided into two types:
and that it's very important to keep LDL as low as possible, because it deposit onto the arteries walls and obstructs the blood flow, increasing the risk of heart diseases.
HDL instead acts the opposite way, cleaning the arteries, and this is the main reason why we want to have higher values of HDL cholesterol.
When you do a blood test, usually the doctor checks the value of total cholesterol, and when this is above a certain threshold it is considered high cholesterol.
That being said, what is important is actually not the value of total cholesterol, but the balance between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.
Basically it's important to know how much good cholesterol we have, compared to the total cholesterol
This is why it's crucial to increase good cholesterol: the more we have, the more we are protected from the damages that bad cholesterol can do.
The goal is to increase good cholesterol to balance the bad cholesterol (and this one will always be present in our body, unfortunately).
How to Know if We Have Enough HDL Cholesterol?
It is possible to know if we have enough HDL cholesterol in the blood with a very simple formula that allows us to calculate the cardiovascular risk index.
We have a green light if
Total Cholesterol / HDL Cholesterol < 5 (men)
Total Cholesterol / HDL Cholesterol < 4.5 (women)
If it shows that we have a higher risk index, then we absolutely have to do something to correct the values and increase HDL cholesterol by changing our lifestyle to become healthier.
If the risk index is much higher than 4.5 or 5, then your doctor will probably prescribe some medications to lower the LDL cholesterol values.
So, How to Increase Good Cholesterol Then?
Recent studies showed which factors and foods help increase the concentration (%) of HDL cholesterol in the blood, and which ones instead cause it to lower, increasing the bad cholesterol.
Here's how to increase good cholesterol:
- Physical Activity: one of the first things to keep in mind to increase HDL cholesterol is that it is necessary to lose weight, in case of overweight subjects, and to keep in good shape. Ideally, you should reach the recommended weight for your height. If you do cardio exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes, you can increase good cholesterol of 3% to 6%. Of course that doesn't happen if you are already doing that.
- Low Consumption of Alcohol: if you want to know how to increase good cholesterol by changing some habits, here's one. It's been demonstrated that by reducing alcohol consumption people have increased HDL cholesterol levels. Best if you quit totally, because alcohol is also one of the causes why men have low testosterone, with all the related side effects.
- Quit Smoking: It is another way to increase good cholesterol. Experts claim that if you quit smoking you can increase the concentration of HDL cholesterol of 4 mg for each 100 ml of blood.
How to Increase Good Cholesterol With Diet and Medications
Speaking of foods to increase good cholesterol, doctors are clear: there are no magic foods that make you decrease bad cholesterol and increase the good one.
Although there are things like Omega-3, which helps increase the natural storage of HDL cholesterol.
You can find these important fatty acids in some types of fish such as salmon, but also in other foods, like nuts. Fatty acids are very important also to increase testosterone naturally.
Finally, what doctors generally suggest to those who want to increase their good cholesterol with foods is to have a diet with low glycemic index (GI), poor in sugars).
So far we've learned how to increase good cholesterol naturally, but besides diet, sport (active physical activity in general) and healthy lifestyle, some may need medications to increase HDL cholesterol, of course under the supervision of a doctor.
In fact drugs always have side effects, and the patient wants to be informed about it.
Among these drugs there are:
- Niacin: able to increase HDL cholesterol even up to 30%
- Fibrates: increase it up to a maximum of 25%
- Statins: allow an increase in good cholesterol up to 15% and, at the same time, a decrease in LDL cholesterol up to 55%
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