Natural Foods to Boost HDL Cholesterol | Good Cholesterol

Natural Foods to Boost HDL Cholesterol
Natural Foods to Boost HDL Cholesterol

Raising HDL or "good" cholesterol was not a priority until a few years ago. Most studies have focused on how lowering LDL or "bad" cholesterol that can reduce the risk or coronary heart disease. But in the past few years, researchers have identified that HDL acted as an independent factor and was also critical in the overall health of your heart. The National Cholesterol Education Program's new guidelines now recognize that low HDL levels as a strong independent risk factor for coronary artery disease.

HDL is a complex molecule made up of lipids, cholesterol, and protein. It cleans off the walls of blood vessels, thus removing excess cholesterol, LDL. The HDL then carries this cholesterol to the liver where it is processed. Doctors still focus strongly on lowering LDL but are now including recommendations that raising HDL is another important factor to reduce risk of heart disease.

If you have had your cholesterol levels checked and your HDL is less than 40, you should discuss with your doctor ways in which to increase the HDL level. Again, HDL level above 60 is ideal.

There are Natural Foods to Boost HDL Cholesterol

  1. Garlic. Studies show that garlic may not only reduce LDL but raise HDL and decrease the amount of fat in your blood. Add some fresh garlic regularly to your cooking to keep your heart healthy.
  2. Niacin is an important B vitamin that may raise your HDL, "good," cholesterol.
  3. Almonds. Studies indicate that snacking on almonds regularly for as little as three weeks may decrease LDL by up to ten percent.
  4. Honey. Add 1 teaspoon honey to 1 cup hot water in the morning, and you may rid your system of excess fat and cholesterol, according to Ayurvedic medicine. Add 1 teaspoon lime juice or 10 drops cider vinegar to give that drink a more powerful cholesterol-fighting punch.
  5. Oats. In any pure form, oats are a traditional cholesterol buster. Eating only 1/2 cup oatmeal a day, along with a low fat diet, may reduce cholesterol levels by nine percent.
  6. Rice. The oil that comes from the bran of rice is known to lower cholesterol. And brown rice is particularly high in fiber, which is essential in a cholesterol-lowering diet. One cup provides 11 percent of the daily fiber requirement.
  7. Soybeans. These beauties may reduce LDL by as much as 20 percent when 25 to 50 grams of soy protein are eaten daily for as short a time as a month. Besides that obvious benefit, soy may fend off a rise in LDL in people with normal levels and also improve the ability of arteries to dilate. This means they expand better to allow the unimpeded passage of fats and other substances that otherwise might cause a blockage.
  8. Walnuts. A cholesterol-lowering diet that includes walnuts eaten at least four times a week may lower LDL by as much as 16 percent. And studies indicate that those who munch on these nuts regularly cut their risk of death by heart attack in half when compared to non-walnut munchers.
  9. Apples. Apples are high in pectin, which can lower cholesterol levels.
  10. Artichokes. This veggie can actually lower cholesterol levels. Early studies pointed to their beneficial cholesterol-busting properties, but recent studies have shown that artichokes may be even more effective than they were first thought to be.
  11. Beets. Full of carotenoids and flavonoids, beets help lower -- and may even prevent -- the formation of LDL, the bad cholesterol.
  12. Carrots. Full of pectin, they're as good as apples in lowering cholesterol levels.
  13. Olive oil. It protects your heart by lowering LDL, raising HDL, and preventing your blood from forming clots.
  14. Pears. These are high in soluble fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol levels.
  15. Rhubarb. Yep, this is a cholesterol-buster. Consume it after a meal that's heavy in fats. You can cook it in a double boiler, with a little honey or maple syrup for added sweetness, until done. Add cardamom or vanilla if you like.
  16. Yogurt. Eating 1 cup plain yogurt with active cultures a day may reduce LDL by four percent or more and total cholesterol by at least three percent. Some scientists believe that eating yogurt regularly may even reduce the overall risk of heart disease by as much as ten percent.
  17. Turmeric. This may lower blood cholesterol. Added to eggplant, you may reap twice the cholesterol-fighting benefit. Mix 3/4 teaspoon turmeric with 2 tablespoons cooked, mashed eggplant and 1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water. Spread it on whole wheat bread and eat after a meal heavy in fats.

There are specific steps you can take that will ultimately help increase HDL level. Here are some of the proven strategies:

Moderate Drinking: Drink a moderate amount of alcohol. Moderate amounts of alcohol can increase your HDL. Moderation for men is two drinks per day, while women can enjoy one. Do not use this method if you have no interest in alcohol for the sole purpose of increasing HDL levels.

Loose Weight: Talk to your doctor about losing weight. Losing 6 lbs. can increase your HDL by 1 mg/dL. Losing weight can be difficult for some, however, if you view weight loss as a means of improving your health rather than dietary deprivation, it might be easier. Choose fruit over potato chips, try a new vegetable each week with dinner and replace soda with water. Over time, your weight will drop.

Exercise Regularly: Start exercising more frequently. Aerobic exercise helps increase HDL levels. Begin slowly if a sedentary lifestyle is what you currently live. Take a walk for 10 minutes, rake leaves for 10 minutes and ride a bike for 10 minutes. Space these sessions throughout your day until you feel comfortable, gradually working up to 30 or 40 minute sessions, five days a week.

Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking can increase your HDL by up to 10 percent. Make it easier on yourself, and use a smoking cessation product to ward off the cravings. Over-the-counter products are available, as are support groups and behavioral therapy. Speak to your doctor and decide what method might work best for you.

Eat a healthier diet. Reducing the amount of fat you consume has a positive impact on your HDL cholesterol. Only 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fats, both good and bad. Saturated fats, such as red meat, whole fat dairy and eggs, should account for 7 percent, trans fats like cookies, cakes and snack foods should comprise 1 percent and the remaining should come from good fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Sources include avocados, nuts, canola oil, olive oil and sunflower oil. Consider omega-3 fatty acids as well. The greatest source is fish such as tuna, cod, salmon and mackerel.

Selection of Oils: Use cooking oils higher in monounsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil. It is found that monounsaturated fats raise HDL levels.

Eat at least two servings of soy (phytoestrogens) products. Tofu, tempeh, and TVP (texturized vegetable protein) may help raise HDL levels. Include at least two servings each day.

Avoid trans fats i.e. hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening (Dalda, Rath, and Vanaspati in India). Choose a liquid or semisoft variety of margarine in your diet Trans fatty acids are found in and many fast foods and french fries, baked goods such as cookies, crackers and cakes. Remember, the softer the spread, the less trans fat it contains.

Avoid refined carbohydrates like sugar and refined flour. These have shown to raise blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Avoid high processed dairy products such as cheese and cream.
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