How to Increase HDL Cholesterol Levels Naturally?
Cholesterol can be downright confusing. Controlling high cholesterol levels is not clear cut, and it is not a one way street. It is simply not just about reducing bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. It is also about finding ways to increase HDL cholesterol. The term HDL refers to “good” or high density lipoprotein cholesterol. It is incredibly important for many reasons, but most notably for its role in reducing bad cholesterol.
The good cholesterol serves as the highway patrol of the bloodstream so to speak. It travels along the blood filled pathways of the body, and when it finds bad cholesterol hanging out in places that it does not belong, it removes it. On a molecular level, the particles of HDL cholesterol are much denser than other types of the blood fat, thus the name “HDL” which refers to its higher density.
Because of the role that good cholesterol plays within the body, an important part of managing cholesterol numbers includes trying to increase HDL cholesterol alongside reducing LDL cholesterol. The relationship between good and bad cholesterol is just as if not more so important that controlling bad cholesterol alone. This is because managing cholesterol is not just about reducing one number in the main trifecta of blood lipids found within the body, rather obtaining ideal cholesterol levels that promote internal harmony. As cholesterol is essential to many vital life processes, a balance – rather than a lopsided teeter totter – is key, thus finding ways to increase HDL cholesterol is just as important as reducing the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
One way in which this is commonly achieved is by taking niacin. Niacin is a vitamin, vitamin B3 to be specific. Like all essential vitamins and minerals, niacin contributes to the proper functioning of many physiological processes. The body uses it to make use of energy, and it is essential to the good health of the eyes, the skin, the nerves and digestive tract. The Mayo Clinic explains that niacin has also been used for years to help boost HDL cholesterol by anywhere from fifteen to thirty five percent in some individuals. While niacin may be most well known for its blood fat feats in terms of elevating low HDL cholesterol, the essential vitamin also is suspected to help reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides as well.
Niacin is prevalent in foods we eat every day. But, it is not possible to eat enough niacin to increase HDL cholesterol, and a prescription is required to get enough niacin to have any effect on cholesterol levels. However, it is possible to eat yourself into healthier good cholesterol levels. Long has the relationship between food intake and blood fats been explored, and there are many foods that contain important compounds that have been shown to either reduce bad cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, or both at the same time. Fish oil and cholesterol, for instance, have been very intimately linked. This is because these oils have a substantial effect on balancing the good to bad cholesterol ratio. And, if you hate fish, there is no need to worry because there are other good cholesterol foods packed with fatty acids to consider. Fatty acids responsible for having positive effects on bad cholesterol and an ability to increase HDL cholesterol can be found in nuts and nut butters as well as avocados, according to Mark’s Daily Apple. Shockingly, even foods previously thought to be the Achilles’ heel of cholesterol diets have recently come into a whole new light. Men’s Health reveals that foods like beef and eggs may actually yield benefits to the body in terms of cholesterol. Recent studies suggest that while egg yolks contain cholesterol, they may in fact increase HDL cholesterol instead of LDL. And, beef, that long known source of bad blood fats, may actually contain a far superior balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids when grass fed as opposed to mass produced, which could have positive effects on a healthy good to bad blood fat ratio.
But, medications and food are not the only important parts to boosting the amount of HDL in the body. There are also lifestyle factors that are significant to explore as well. Exercise is one very simple and yet vital part of raising HDL cholesterol. In fact, WebMD explains that adding in regular physical activity can increase the amount of good cholesterol in the blood by as much as ten percent. Smoking cigarettes can reduce the amount of HDL cholesterol in the body, and thus quitting will not only help to increase HDL cholesterol, but also eliminate another risk factor for cardiovascular diseases later in life. Interestingly enough however, not all vices are bad in terms of HDL cholesterol, and a drink a day may actually be a good thing. WebMD explains how alcohol can be good by pointing out that moderate use of alcohol may increase HDL cholesterol by as much as ten percent (moderate in this definition referring to one drink a day for women and no more than two for men). So what does all of this mean? Well, by exercising regularly, having one alcoholic beverage a day and quitting smoking, HDL levels can be increased by 20 percent or more and the risk of heart disease can be reduced. When combined with dietary benefits, the path to perfect cholesterol calculations can become much more of a reality.
It is important to discuss your cholesterol levels with your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to provide a big picture about your cholesterol and the role it is playing in your overall health. Discuss natural and lifestyle treatment options with your doctor, and find out how they can help and augment the effects of medications you may be taking and whether or not there may be more than you can be doing to increase HDL cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol and ensure a reduced long term risk of serious health complications.