HDL cholesterol, known as the "good" cholesterol, promotes cardiovascular health by keeping the "bad" cholesterol, known as LDL, at desirable levels. A vegetarian diet can help raise your HDL levels and also keeps your LDL levels down, since animal products are a prime source of LDL cholesterol. Exercise is also vital in raising HDL levels.
Choose foods that contain healthy fats. These are the ones that increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol at the same time. Choose polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids instead of saturated fats and trans fats. This means eating more fish, olive oil, avocados and nuts and less frozen pizza, cheese and processed snacks.
Eat more fiber-filled plant foods. Fiber aids in keeping good cholesterol high and bad cholesterol low. Beans, cruciferous vegetables, apricots and prunes are all good high-fiber choices to incorporate into a vegetarian diet. Berries and kiwi also are high in fiber.
Limit alcohol. Cocktails and beer are not restricted on a vegetarian diet, but consuming too much can contribute to unhealthy HDL cholesterol levels. Drinking alcohol in moderation has been shown to increase HDL levels, but you shouldn't drink more than one drink a day if you are female or two a day if you 're male. Too much alcohol contributes to many health problems, including unhealthy cholesterol.
Prepare small meals throughout the day instead of two or three large ones. Smaller, more frequent meals are associated with healthy HDL cholesterol levels. Choose foods that have fiber to keep you full until your next meal, and read nutrition labels on any packaged products so you can avoid high amounts of cholesterol.
Exercise daily. By eating a vegetarian diet and getting 30 minutes of daily exercise, you can increase your HDL cholesterol levels while also reducing your LDL levels. This combination can also help you lose weight, which increases HDL levels as well.