What is HDL Cholesterol?
HDL cholesterol, sometimes called "good" cholesterol, is one of three varieties of cholesterol found in your blood. The "HDL" in HDL cholesterol is an abbreviation for high-density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are of fatty protein cells that transport fats through your bloodstream and your body. In simple terms, HDL cholesterol is the kind of cholesterol that the high-density lipoproteins carry in your body.
Why is HDL Cholesterol Good?
HDL cholesterol does not add to the plaque that builds up in your arteries and causes coronary heart disease. Some scientists even believe that HDL cholesterol can help reduce arterial plaque. Because of this, most doctors now think that a reliably high level of HDL cholesterol is a good thing for heart health.
Why Should You Increase Your HDL Cholesterol?
Because HDL cholesterol may help to reduce the plaque that causes coronary heart disease, most doctors today suggest that you maintain your HDL cholesterol at or above a certain level. If a blood test reveals that you have HDL cholesterol levels below the recommended level, your doctor will probably suggest that you try to increase the level of HDL cholesterol in your blood.
7 Ways to Increase Your HDL Cholesterol
1. Take the stairs, not the elevator
2. Do not drive when you can walk
3. When you do drive, park farther away from your destination, so you have to walk farther
You can increase your HDL cholesterol by increasing your aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise includes activities like walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and roller-blading, and of course, so-called aerobics classes taught at gyms and fitness centers. By making simple changes to your daily habits so that you walk more, you can increase your aerobic exercise and your HDL cholesterol.
4. Skip the fast food & junk food
5. Cut out whole milk & dairy
6. Choose lean chicken & fish over red meat
Another good way to increase your HDL cholesterol is by reducing the total fat calories that you consume. By avoiding fast food restaurants and fatty snack foods, using low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and avoiding red meat in favor of fish and lean (ie, white meat without the skin) chicken, you should be able to reduce your total fat calories to less than 30 percent of your total caloric intake.
You should make sure that only 30 per cent of your calories come from fats. For example, if you consume 2500 calories per day, you should make sure that only 30 percent, or 750 calories, come from fat. Since one gram of fat contains 9 calories, that means you should only consume 750/9 or about 83 grams of fat.
7. If you smoke, quit!
Other ways to increase your HDL cholesterol include quitting smoking, losing weight, and taking omega-3 supplements like fish oil and flax seed.
This article has defined HDL cholesterol and explained why it is also called "good" cholesterol, and has offered 7 steps you can take to increase your HDL cholesterol.