5 Ways to Increase Your HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol

Cholesterol has gotten a bad rap in recent history. From pharmaceutical advertisements to food labeling, we are told to lower our cholesterol—and to do it now! While it’s true that lowering your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels is the healthy thing to do, there is one type of cholesterol that you don’t want to lower. In fact, you actually want this cholesterol level to go as high as possible.

We’re talking about HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Raising your HDL levels can help keep your blood vessels healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.

A Little Background on HDL Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty-feeling substance that is found throughout the body. LDL carries cholesterol through the bloodstream to your tissues and cells. This is an essential function for the body, but when there is too much cholesterol, it builds up on the walls of the arteries and that can lead to heart disease or other serious cardiovascular complications.
On the other hand, HDL removes LDL from the arteries and carries it back to the liver. At that point, it’s filtered out and excreted from the body. Since HDL works to clean out the blood vessels, it is referred to as “good” cholesterol. Having healthy levels of HDL can protect your body against cardiovascular diseases.

For every 1 mg/dL increase in HDL, your risk of having a cardiac event decreases by 2-3%.

Having low levels of HDL, even if your total cholesterol levels are healthy, can put you at risk for coronary heart disease and heart attack. Men who have levels below 40 mg/dL or women that have levels below 50 mg/dL are at risk. Both sexes should aim to have HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or above.

How to Increase Your HDL Levels

If you’re looking to raise your HDL levels, you have quite a few options to try. There are some cholesterol medications that can raise HDL, but here are five ways you can increase your HDL without making a trip to the doctor.

1. Adjust Your Diet

The two most important dietary factors for raising HDL levels are fats and fiber. Trans fatty acids reduce HDL levels, so you’ll want to avoid foods with trans fat. But you can go ahead and indulge (a little!) in monounsaturated fats. These fats raise HDL levels. Try to get more canola oil, olive oil, avocado, or peanut butter. As for fiber, try to add more soluble fiber into your diet. Experts recommend oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, and legumes.

2. Pour Yourself A Drink

Alcohol, in moderation, can raise HDL levels by as much as 4 mg/dL. Don’t go crazy with this one – experts recommend that women have one drink and men have two drinks, at most, per day. If you have liver disease, alcoholism, or a strong family history of alcohol abuse, you might reconsider this suggestion.

3. Quit Smoking

If you use tobacco products, giving up the habit could really help your blood vessels. Research shows that quitting smoking can raise HDL by up to 10 percent.

4. Stay Active

Engaging in regular exercise can benefit your health in a number of ways, including raising your HDL levels. After two months of regular aerobic activity, you could increase your levels by up to 5 percent. Any activity that gets your heart pumping hard for 30 minutes per day will work.

5. Drop the Extra Pounds

Carrying around extra weight really taxes the cardiovascular system. To increase your HDL by 1 mg/dL, you will need to lose about six pounds.

Now that you know the facts about HDL cholesterol, challenge yourself to raise your levels. Simply start by asking your doctor to order a cholesterol blood test. Along with some other cholesterol information, this test will show you your current HDL levels. Then you can get to work—eat healthy, stay active, and don’t smoke! When you have your blood retested (experts recommend having a cholesterol test every five years), you’ll be able to see some heart-healthy results!

Enjoyed this article?  Try reading these as well . . .
3 Unexpected Foods to Help You Lower Cholesterol
Why Diabetics are at Risk for High Cholesterol
High Cholesterol: Reducing Your Risk of Stroke

Cholesterol clinical research

Diabetes: Control Your Blood Sugars through Smoking Cessation

Control Your Blood Sugars through Smoking Cessation

There are many things that can have serious impact on your overall blood sugars. One of the largest effects on your blood sugar is not actually what you eat, it is what you breathe. Smoking is unhealthy for anyone, even those who don’t currently have any health problems. Even second hand smoke can have the same effects. When it comes to diabetics smoking, the risks can be worse, it can actually cause chronic blood glucose problems until you are able to quit.

Smoking in Relation to Diabetes

Smoking not only puts you at risk for having high blood sugars on a regular basis, but it can also be a major cause for the diabetes diagnosis. Many scientific studies have proven that the chemicals in commercially sold tobacco can increase blood sugar, nicotine being one of the main culprits.

Studies have also shown that after the first puff of each cigarette, your blood sugar shoots up. It returns to normal about 30 minutes after the last puff.

The worst association of smoking and diabetes is that it can also contribute to developing insulin resistance, which means your body will have trouble responding to most conventional methods of treating high blood sugars.

Quitting Smoking for Diabetics

Unfortunately, most products that are sold over the counter are not a good fit for a diabetic who is attempting to quit smoking. This is because the patch, the gum, lozenges, and even the inhaler contain nicotine. When your body is exposed to high doses of nicotine for a prolonged period of time, your blood sugar could become dangerously high.

There are many prescription medications, such as Chantix and Wellbutrin that have provided amazing results for a wide range of people. It is important to talk to your doctor to ensure that you are a good fit for these medications. Certain disorders that are caused by diabetes, or lead to diabetes, are affected by these medications, so not everyone can take them.

Considerations for Quitting

Regardless of what method you use to quit, it is important to carefully monitor your body’s response. Many people tend to eat more and on more regular intervals when they stop smoking. As a diabetic, you have to take special care not to over-eat, and not to eat the wrong types of foods. Eating fruits and vegetables that are low on carbohydrates and processed sugars can help curb the cravings, and still allow you to maintain your blood sugars.

You may have to check your blood sugar more often as you are quitting smoking, especially if you are using snacks to help curb cravings. This is because stress can also increase your blood sugar and can have negative effects. This is why most physicians choose to use Wellbutrin to aid diabetics in their efforts to quit smoking. In clinical studies, this medication has also shown positive effects on reducing the stress level, and counteracting any depression that may be associated with quitting.

Diabetes CTA