Cholesterol is a substance that our body uses mainly for the production of Vitamin D, estrogen and testosterone hormone. Cholesterol in the human body has various types including LDL, HDL and VLDL cholesterol. LDL and VLDL cholesterol are known as ‘bad’ cholesterols. Because high levels of LDL and VLDL can cause sudden heart complications, including heart attack, stroke or heart disease.
Not all types of cholesterol are bad for health. Mainly known as ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL cholesterol helps prevent heart disease, heart attack and stroke. That’s why having high HDL levels in the body is essential for better health. Simple and healthy lifestyle changes can increase HDL levels.
1. Lose Excess Body Weight
Being overweight brings a lot of health risks. These risks include having high LDL levels in the bloodstream, developing type 2 diabetes and other complications. That’s why losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for better health.
Losing weight is a good step to take on the way to reach higher HDL cholesterol levels. It is proven with researches that losing weight without the need for any additional treatments, has increased HDL levels.
You can start your weight loss journey by finding the right diet. Whether it is intermittent fasting, low calorie or ketogenic diet, don’t forget to choose a diet plan that fits your body and have a doctor’s or nutritionist’s opinion.
2. Get Physically Active
Being physically active is already known as a major healthy lifestyle habit. It also aids in reaching higher HDL levels. Research shows that HDL cholesterol level has significantly increased after regular exercise and physical activity, both in men and women. Moreover, as we mentioned above, it aids in weight loss, which is a major HDL cholesterol booster.
The main reason HLD level to increase after regular physical activity and exercise are because they are big metabolism boosters. When metabolism is better, your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels are more balanced. You can do mild but regular or intense and well-planned physical activities to increase your HDL levels.
3. Choose Healthy Fats
Choosing healthy fats starts by avoiding unhealthy fats. Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with healthy, natural fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. Especially coconut oil and olive oil, by having antioxidant functions, help increase HDL levels.
Omega 3 fats are another effective resources to reach high levels of HDL cholesterol. They can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, as well as crustacean seafood such as oyster and shrimp. Shrimp is wrongly considered as an LDL cholesterol booster. It actually has HDL benefits. If it is hard to reach to fresh fish, you can use fish oil supplements to lower cholesterol.
Nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds, peanuts and walnuts are also good vegan alternatives that have omega 3 fatty acids. You can check low cholesterol recipes to easily combine your food with healthy fats.
4. Eat More Fiber
There are many types of fiber. Some of them have various benefits, while some of them cause digestive problems. For higher HDL levels, adding certain types of fiber to your diet is important.
Beta-glucan fibers that can be found mainly in oats and barley are effective in increasing HDL levels and decreasing LDL levels.
Research has shown that psyllium husk, a soluble type fiber, has significantly increased HDL patients’ HDL levels in 3 months.
5. Consume Antioxidant Foods
Antioxidants are very effective cell protectors. They also prevent inflammation, as well as oxidative stress from free radicals. These health benefits of antioxidants create an environment in the body that is perfect for high HDL levels.
Antioxidant-rich foods are mainly red, purple and dark green fruits and vegetables such as berries, oranges, red cabbage, red grapes, cayenne pepper, broccoli, spinach and asparagus.
6. Live a Smoke-Free Life
Along with leading to numerous health problems, smoking increases bad cholesterol levels in the body. Due to containing nicotine and other chemical substances, it causes tar accumulation in the body.
Smoking blocks immune cells in the body. Once blocked, immune cells become unable to return LDL cholesterol from artery walls. So LDL cholesterol can not reach the liver through the bloodstream.
To reverse high LDL levels and increase your HDL levels, quit smoking as soon as possible.