Increase HDL Cholesterol and Live Longer
by: Nicholas Webb
There are several effective ways to increase HDL cholesterol (that's the "good" one by the way), that can literally add years to your life, reduce the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis and stroke.
So, how do we go about getting high HDL cholesterol levels
There are two key ways for increasing your HDL, naturally when combined the results are both faster and satisfying. One method is totally zero cost, the second method can be expensive and also detrimental to your health in some isolated cases.
This seems so hard for many people, yet the results are zero cost, relatively easy and last as long as you continue a healthy life. In many people, the following lifestyle recommendations will be sufficient to increase HDL cholesterol, and at the same time help to reduce your "bad" LDL. You'll also probably reduce your blood pressure and lose those unwanted, potentially dangerous pounds.
The lifestyle modifications that will provide the best results follow below:
This is where many people stop reading and find excuses such as not having enough time. The solution cannot always be found in a bottle of pills and it may take a little effort on your side, but believe me it is well worth it!
If you are overweight, losing weight can raise HDL levels quite substantially. In fact, simply beginning an exercise program can help increase the "good" HDL and this has been known for some time. In the late 1990's a Stanford University study found that when sedentary men start an exercise routine they improved their HDL by approximately 4.4 mg/dl when the exercise burned off 800-1000 calories a week (if you cycle just 2 hours a week at 11 mph you will burn almost 1000 calories). It seems that duration of exercise, not intensity, provides the greatest benefit. So, the more exercise you do, the higher goes your HDL. Is that so difficult?
Aside from HDL, giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do. It has been shown that on average, men who smoke have HDL levels 5.3 mg/dl lower than non-smokers. The difference is even more in women: around 9 mg/dl lower than non-smokers. Remember a 4.4 mg/dl can mean a 3-5% reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. Recent articles suggest that quitting all forms of tobacco can increase HDL cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent.
A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and legumes, is strongly linked to high blood levels of HDL. So is eating more fish (and taking fish oil supplements) and consuming fewer refined carbohydrates.
Several types of fats can also make a big difference. Most helpful are the monounsaturated fats found in canola, olive, avocado, nut and seed oils; nuts and avocados. Increasing your daily intake soluble fiber is also beneficial. Soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and oats and whole grain foods.
Moreover it seems the old saying that "vino fa buon sangue" wine makes good bllod is true. Alcohol, particularly red wine, consumed in moderation, helps to raise HDL. More than one or two drinks a day can be very detrimental for your health.
There are several classes of drugs currently prescribed for cholesterol disorders. Even though their prime job is to decrease the "bad" LDL, they do also increase HDL levels.
This class of drug can increase HDL cholesterol anywhere from 3 to 10 percent. Being as they are the most effective drug for reducing the harmful LDL, 3-10% isn't so bad as a fringe benefit. However, other classes of drugs are more effective on HDL, while not quite so effective on getting the "bad" LDL down to desired levels.
This class of drug is actually from the B group of vitamins; however it is a much more potent source than can be found at your local health store. Niacin, or nicotinic acid, can raise HDL levels by 15 to 30 percent. Although this is an effective medication if your suffer from diabetes it is very unlikely that your doctor will put you on this class of drugs.
This class of drug is commonly prescribes for triglyceride disorders. However triglycerides and HDL go hand in hand. When triglycerides are high HDL levels are commonly low, and vice-versa. This class of drug generally raises HDL by 10-15%.
Drugs are drugs and don't come without risks. In fact, some doctors, in order to get their patients cholesterol levels to desired levels, are prescribing statins in together with nicotinic acid or fibrates. This can increase the risk of liver dysfunction or muscle toxicity, a rare but potentially serious complication of statins. This may also occur if combines with some antibiotics or anti-depressants.
From the methods above, you can see that to increase HDL cholesterol levels can be with or without risks; and with or without costs. If you truly value your health, and your money, you should seriously try the lifestyle modifications. If you still need drugs, if you implement the recommended lifestyle modification the dosages are almost guaranteed to be lower. However, never alter the dosage of any medication without speaking to your doctor.
For part 1 of this article, please select the following link: hdl cholesterol - part 1
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