Raising your HDL may add years to your life. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, which is the medical term for "good" cholesterol. The American Heart Association explains that HDL helps carry the LDL or "bad" cholesterol out of your bloodstream to your liver for processing, which reduces your risks of arterial plaque buildup and heart disease. You can increase your HDL levels and lower your heart-related disease risks by making some simple changes in your lifestyle.
Consult your doctor. Before you set out to raise your HDL levels, ask your physician for lab work to determine what your current HDL and LDL levels are. Work together with your doctor to set a reasonable and healthy cholesterol goals.
Take a walk. Walking is ideal exercise if you don't have money for expensive exercise equipment or time for a gym. Taking a walk increases your HDL levels, according to a study in the May 11, 2012 issue of "BMJ Open." How fast you walk influences the type of cholesterol that improves. If you walk slowly, your LDL or bad cholesterol levels will drop. If you walk the same distance at a faster speed, you raise your HDL, which also helps lowers your LDL. Researchers in the study also state that a faster walking speed also promotes a lower body mass index. So each time you take a walk, try to gradually increase your speed.
Eat some walnuts. Don't let the fact they are high in fats scare you. The Sep.-Oct. 2005 issue of "Angiology" reports that walnuts are high in important fatty-acids that improve cholesterol levels. When subjects consumed 20 grams of walnuts, or roughly a handful a day, for eight weeks, they experienced a 9 percent increase in HDL levels. The next time you want a crunchy snack, grab a handful of walnuts instead of chips or pretzels. It will do your heart some good.
Drink some red grape juice, which delivers the heart-related benefits that red wine does but without the negative effects of alcohol. The December 15, 2010 issue of "The Open Biochemistry Journal" reports a study in which subjects drank 3/4 cup of grape juice, twice a day, for a month. The results of the study show that regular consumption of red grape juice increases blood levels of HDL cholesterol and helps prevent hardening of the arteries.
- American Heart Association: Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
- BMJOpen: The Relationship Between Walking Speed And Changes In Cardiovascular Risk Factors During A 12-Day Walking Tour To Santiago de Compostela: A Cohort Study
- Angiology: Walnut Consumption In Hyperlipidemic Patients
- The Open Biochemistry Journal: Effects Of Red Grape Juice Consumption On High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol, Apolipoprotein AI, Apolipoprotein B And Homocysteine In Healthy Human Volunteers
- Take the kids, and the dog, for a walk with you. Make improving health a family thing.
- Get approval from your physician before adding exercise or additional foods to your daily routine, especially if you are being treated for any medical conditions.
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."