Tips to Raise Your Good (HDL) Cholesterol Levels
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.
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:
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 sections of interest:
Drugs that Raise Good Colesterol Cause Health Hazards - interesting story from USAToday.
According to a health expert interviewed in an article for Nutrition Action Healthletter, aerobic exercise increases HDL cholesterol.