How to Raise Good Cholesterol Numbers

credit: Adobe Stock/anaumenko Adobe Stock/anaumenko
1 of 8
Prev
Next
credit: Adobe Stock/anaumenko Adobe Stock/anaumenko

Despite its bad rap, not all cholesterol is evil. Raising your high density lipoproteins (HDL), or the good type of cholesterol, should be a lifelong goal of everyone beginning in their teens. It 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. Keep reading for more specific tips.

1

Start With a Baseline

credit: Belyjmishka/iStock/Getty Images Belyjmishka/iStock/Getty Images

First, you need to know where you stand with regards to your cholesterol numbers. 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. Ideally, your total cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL and your HDL is above 60 mg/dL. File your results for later reference.

Read more: What's Your Body Mass Index (BMI)? Find Out in 15 Seconds or Less

2

Get Moving!

credit: FS-Stock/iStock/Getty Images FS-Stock/iStock/Getty Images

You don't have to hit the gym for two hours a day to have a positive impact on your cholesterol. Start small and simple with an exercise program that emphasizes 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. This can be going for a brisk walk during your lunch hour with a coworker, riding your bike to work, taking your pup for a walk or playing a pick-up game of your favorite sport. If you can't take the time to exercise for 30 minutes in one session, consider breaking it into two smaller sessions. But to effectively raise your HDL cholesterol, try to extend the duration of your exercise.

Listen now: Why America’s Obsession with ‘Happiness’ Is Totally Stressing Us Out

3

Drop Any Excess Weight

credit: zdenkam/iStock/Getty Images zdenkam/iStock/Getty Images

If you're obese or overweight, losing weight goes a long way in improving your cholesterol. 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, which is much more reliable than your BMI. 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're overweight if your ratio is over 0.8.

4

Kick Your Smoking Habit

credit: MarcBruxelle/iStock/Getty Images MarcBruxelle/iStock/Getty Images

If you smoke cigarettes, stop smoking. While there are plenty of reasons to abandon your cigarette habit, smoking lowers HDL levels and is the single most preventable risk factor for heart disease. Consider this statistic from the Mayo Clinic: "Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked."

Read more: Top 10 Ways to Quit Smoking

5

Clean Up Your Diet

credit: Anna_Kurz/iStock/Getty Images Anna_Kurz/iStock/Getty Images

One of the best (and easiest!) ways to raise your HDL and lower your LDL is by making heart-healthy changes to your diet. Swap calorie-dense fast foods (that also often contain trans fat) for nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole-grain baked goods. Increase your HDL by eating more omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish like salmon, trout and herring. 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.

Read more: 9 Foods That Do Not Raise Cholesterol

6

Consider Medication

credit: megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images

If these lifestyle changes still aren't enough, talk to your doctor. Ask about medications designed to increase your HDL if you're 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.

What Do YOU Think?

credit: Dash_med/iStock/Getty Images Dash_med/iStock/Getty Images

When was the last time you checked your cholesterol? Do you remember what your numbers were? Do you need to raise your HDL or lower your total cholesterol? What did your doctor recommend? Do you think you'll try any of the above tips? Is there anything else you've done? Share your stories and questions in the comments below!

Read more: 13 Everyday Activities That Burn More Than 200 Calories

Is a Total Cholesterol of 260 Bad?

credit: Adobe Stock/anaumenko Adobe Stock/anaumenko
Overview

Despite its bad rap, not all cholesterol is evil. Raising your high density lipoproteins (HDL), or the good type of cholesterol, should be a lifelong goal of everyone beginning in their teens. It 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. Keep reading for more specific tips.

PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.