Not all cholesterol is bad, you know. Your body contains both good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). HDL helps build your cells and even collects bad cholesterol and takes it through the bloodstream to the liver, where it’s broken down. It’s important to have a high HDL; the higher your HDL, the less bad cholesterol you will have in your blood, and the lower your risk of heart disease.
The good news is that there are five easy lifestyle changes you can make to raise your HDL.
1. Exercise. Try to fit in 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. You can even break your exercise time up into 3 increments of 10 minutes to fit it in daily.
2. Drink in moderation. If you drink, allow yourself just one drink per day. If you don’t drink, you don’t need to start in order to raise your HDLs.
3. Choose healthier fats. Some fats are good for you, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (found in olive, canola and peanut oils). Saturated fats, the unhealthy fats which are often found in junk food, should be eaten sparingly.
4. Lose a few pounds. You don’t have to go on a crash diet. Losing just 6 pounds can increase your HDL by 1 point (for example, from 39 to 40).
5. Stop smoking. OK, this one might not be easy, per se, but it could help increase your HDL by up to 10% (not to mention the many other health benefits that come with quitting smoking).
You could also consider taking a statin, which is a medication that helps your liver remove cholesterol from your blood, or a fibrate, which lower triglyceride levels in the blood. Your physician can help you determine if you need medication to raise your HDL.