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HDL Cholesterol Treatments

January 19, 2016  |  Difficulty: Easy

hdl cholesterol

HDL - high-density lipoprotein known as the "good" cholesterol - is a protein made by the body and is primarily genetically determined. Fortunatelly, there are options to significantly influence the formation of either LDL or HDL just by making changes to our lifestyle.

HDL Levels

HDL means "high-density lipoprotein" - this is the "good" cholesterol that helps keep cholesterol away from your arteries and get rid of any excess by excreting it into the intestines along with bile. Optimal levels for HDL cholesterol are over 40 mg/dL for men and over 50 mg/dL for women. If your HDL cholesterol levels measure 40 mg/dL or below, you will be diagnosed with low HDL cholesterol.  While we have all heard the higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better,  for a certain group of people, the elevated levels of HDL (60 mg/dL or above ) also mean a high risk for recurrent coronary events.

Factors within your control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. The following simple tips can help you keep cholesterol levels in balance.

Stop Smoking

When you stop smoking, it may improve your good cholesterol levels by as much as 10%.

Keep Yourself Physically Active

Starting an aerobic exercise program could increase your good cholesterol by 5% in the first two months.

Pay Attention to What You Eat

Limit refined sugars and carbohydrates in your diet and increase your fiber intake. For example nuts are high in fiber and protein, and many are low in carbohydrates, also add seeds and non-starchy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, brussels sprouts, strawberries, plums, and pears). Men should eat 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day, and women should get 21 to 25 grams per day.

Very beneficial are foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sea bass and sardines.

Very low fat diets will lower HDL as well as LDL cholesterol. Limit or avoid saturated fats. These are found found in animal products and animal fats. To limit your intake, eat less cheese, butter, whole milk, cream, lard and high-fat cuts of meat such as beef, pork and lamb. Remove skin from poultry and trim visible fat from meat before cooking to reduce the saturated fat content.

Medication

If the above measures do not help raise your HDL levels, your physician may suggest some medication to help you increase the HDL levels as well as lower the LDL and triglyceride levels. Such are niacin, fibrates and statins. Niacin is usually the first choice out of medicaments to increase HDL cholesterol. It can be purchased over-the-counter, but prescription niacin is preferred, as it has the least side effects. Fibrates can also help increase HDL cholesterol levels. Statins block the enzyme in liver that helps to make cholesterol. This leads to a reduction of the blood cholesterol level but cholesterol levels start to rise again once you stop taking them.

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