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Tips to Raise Your Good (HDL) Cholesterol Levels


Related page:

Low Cholesterol: The overlooked health risks

 

 

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I get a lot of emails from people asking me how to raise abnormally low cholesterol levels. Almost every book I have in my health book collection always has sections on how to lower your cholesterol levels and nothing on how to raise one's cholesterol. When I first created this site, there was not a lot of information on how to raise your cholesterol levels in a healthy way, but lately I've been finding more and more articles on the topic, so I thought I'd add this page about it to my site.

Medical experts used to tell people just to keep cholesterol levels low, but now the advice from most conventional medical doctors seems to be slightly more sophisticated. However, I'm not entirely convinced that it is still completely accurate. Many health experts now advise that monounsaturated fats, which are thought to raise HDL cholesterol levels, are good for you and saturated fats, which raise both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are bad.

I think this is still way too simplistic way of looking at things, but it's probably edging closer to the truth. Personally, I believe that saturated fats, eaten in moderation, aren't bad for you, but perhaps too much saturated fat is bad for you and that some people in the U.S. may eat more saturated fat than is good for them. Saturated fat is known to clot the blood, which for most people probably isn't a good thing. But for people like me, with a history of poor coagulation issues and low cholesterol, maybe a higher than average level of saturated fat is okay.

Interestingly, one recent study found that saturated fat may actually prevent, not cause, coronary heart disease. With such conflicting studies abounding, I think the available medical evidence at this point in time is neither conclusive nor uniform as to how much saturated fat is really good for people, so it is difficult to know what to eat.

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However, it has been shown in a number of studies that abnormally low cholesterol levels do pose a number of health risks, so raising cholesterol levels, especially HDL cholesterol, into the normal range may be a prudent health consideration. Here are some of the tips I found on factors that influence cholesterol levels:

  • According to the American Heart association web site, saturated fats will raise your total cholesterol levels, both the HDL and LDL kinds. They also note that if you have low HDL cholesterol, you can raise it by not smoking, losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight) and being physically active for at least 3060 minutes a day on most or all days of the week.

  • According to an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, It's Good to go a Little Nuts for the Holidays, unsaturated fats (like those found in many nuts, seeds and legumes) can keep good cholesterol levels high and keep bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels low. The article went on to explain that all nuts are high in fat and have ample amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Cashews, macadamias, and some pine nuts have more saturated fat than peanuts (technically a legume), almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts. On the plus side, nuts are also high in many vitamins and minerals. They are however, very high in calories, so anyone watching their waistline should consume them in moderation.

  • Eating more magnesium rich foods has been shown to helps to raise good cholesterol levels, as well as lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and lower blood fats. Related links: Magnesium-Rich Diet May Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk .


  • Manganese deficiency has also been linked in at least one study on rats low cholesterol levels (hypocholesterolemia). If this is also true for humans, presumably then having adequate manganese intake may aid in establishing normal cholesterol levels. Good sources of manganese include pineapple, pecans, and spinach.

  • Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise total cholesterol levels. Unlike saturated fats, trans fats are thought to lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol levels.

    Trans fats are also known as hydrogenated fats. From what I've read, artificially made trans fats seem to have no redeeming health value and should be avoided, if not completely eliminated, from the diet. Man made trans fats are popular with processed food manufacturers because their use prolongs the shelf life of their products.
    They can be found in margarine, icing, microwave popcorn and many baked goods including cookies, waffles, crackers, potato chips.

I'm taking many of the above factors into consideration in making my own lifestyle changes. I plan to have my cholesterol checked again in the next few months. I'll update this site again when I've figured out what seemed to work for me. So far I've moved my own cholesterol from the scary low (high risk for depression and bleeding stroke) into the low end of the normal range.


Related page:

Low Cholesterol: The overlooked health risks

 

 

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Your Diet Might be Related to Anxiety and Depression

Insomnia - Natural Treatments

Overlooked Health Risks of Low Cholesterol

Eye and Facial Tics in Children

Dietary Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Can Diet Help Tourettes Syndrome?

 

Selected Links:

Drugs that Raise Good Colesterol Cause Health Hazards - interesting story from USAToday.

Low Fat Diet Linked to Increase in "Bad" Cholesterol

Fast-food binge harms liver, but boosts good cholesterol: study

According to a health expert interviewed in an article for Nutrition Action Healthletter, aerobic exercise increases HDL cholesterol.

Increasing Good Cholesterol

 

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