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How to Raise Good Cholesterol Numbers


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How to Raise Good Cholesterol Numbers
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Raising your high density lipoproteins (HDL), or the good type of cholesterol, should be a lifelong goal of everyone beginning in their teens. HDL helps to carry away low density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad type of cholesterol, before it has a chance to adhere to the inside of your arteries---particularly the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart. There are several proven ways to raise your HDL: diet, exercise, weight reduction and smoking cessation.

Step 1


Ask your doctor to perform a blood lipid profile test to determine if your cholesterol numbers are within the normal range. He'll review with you the results of the test, focusing on your total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. File your results for later reference.

Step 2
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Begin an exercise program that emphasizes 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. If you can't take the time to exercise for 30 minutes in one session, consider breaking it into two smaller sessions. To effectively raise your HDL cholesterol, try to extend the duration of your exercise.

Step 3
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Lose weight if you're obese or overweight. Obesity not only lowers your HDL cholesterol, it raises your LDL cholesterol. If you're not sure whether you're overweight, calculate your hip to waist ratio. Measure your hips and your waist. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If you're a man, you're overweight if your ratio is over 1. If you're a woman, you are overweight if your ratio is over 0.8.

Step 4
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Stop smoking if you smoke cigarettes. Smoking lowers HDL levels and is the single most preventable risk factor for heart disease.

Step 5


Make heart-healthy changes in your diet. Swap calorie-dense fast foods for fruits, vegetables and whole-grain baked goods. Increase your HDL by adding more fiber to your diet and eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like salmon, trout and herring are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Step 6
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Ask your doctor to prescribe one of the many medications designed to increase your HDL if you are at high risk for heart disease and need to significantly raise your HDL cholesterol. The most common drug class is the statin class. You can also take niacin supplements, but be prepared for some unsavory side effects like hot flashes, itching and flushing.

Tips and Warnings
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Make changes slowly to make them lifelong habits. Work with your doctor and a registered dietitian. Raise your HDL through diet and exercise -- not one or the other. Some doctors recommend eating oatmeal and raw walnuts and taking two 1,000 mg. capsules of fish oil a day to help with cholesterol levels. Avoid fad diets with outlandish claims.

Things You'll Need
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Exercise clothes and good quality shoes Wristwatch Cloth tape measure Notebook

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