How can I
increase the level of HDL cholesterol?
HDL cholesterol, or ‘good’ cholesterol, removes LDL, or the
‘bad’ cholesterol, which is responsible for heart attack and
stroke, from artery walls and ferries it to the liver for
disposal. HDL also fights dangerous inflammation and blood clot
formation. So the higher your HDL cholesterol levels the better
it is Levels between 40 and 60mg/ dl are considered normal. More than
60mg/dl is considered ideal for preventing heart disease.
Simple changes in lifestyle boost HDL levels. It is estimated that for every 1mg/dl increase in
HDL, there is a 2-4 per cent decrease in your risk of coronary
heart disease. Research shows that five, 30-minute sessions of
aerobic exercise can boost HDL by 5-10 per cent in two months.
Walking, running, cycling, swimming and playing basketball are
all beneficial. A brisk walk is my suggestion. Warm up by
walking slowly for five minutes, then pick up pace.
Pump your arms and use your butt
muscles to power your body for- ward. Maintain a pace you are
comfortable with for 15-35 minutes, and then cool down by
walking slowly for five more minutes.
Check your body weight. If your
body mass index is between 18.9 and 24.9 fine. If it is more,
then you need to lose weight, especially if your excess weight
is around the abdomen. You can boost your HDL level by about
1mg/dl for every 3kg lost. Pay special attention to your fat and
carbohydrate intake too much or too little fat can be dangerous.
An adult with a healthy weight should limit his fat intake to
about 5-6 teaspoons per day. This includes all fats/oils added
before, during and after cooking. Use healthy cooking methods
like shallow frying in a non – stick pan, microwave cooking,
boiling, broiling, grilling and baking, instead of deep frying or
adding a lot of oil in shallow frying. Use healthy oils such as
mustard, sesame, canola or olive oil (extra light or refined)
for cooking; groundnut oil for frying; and olive oil (extra
virgin) for salads and pasta. You may also choose blended oils –
a combination of healthy oils – specially designed for a healthy
Avoid food products rich in
saturated fats such as butter, desi ghee, cheese, mayonnaise,
spreads, salad dressing, red meat, organ meats as well as
tropical oils like palm and coconut oils. Also avoid trans-fatty
acids found in samosas, pakodas, French fries, namkeens, fried
chicken doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. Increase the
intake of solube fibre – whole wheat flour, dalia, suji. pulses,
fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Have half a raw onion a day;
research says it may raise HDL levels by as much as 30 per cent.
Drinking a glass of red wine along with food is healthy. Fish
oils or flaxseed oil are healthy supplements for boosting HDL
cholesterol. However, do check with your doctor for an optimal
If you smoke, quit. HDL levels rise
by 15-20 per cent after you quit. One or two alcoholic drinks
may help raise HDL levels, but more than that, you’ll do more
damage than good. As far as drugs for increasing HDL cholesterol
levels are concerned, niacin, a B-complex vitamin, is effective.
However. The amount of niacin needed for increasing HDL levels
is so high that it is classified as a drug when used for this
purpose. Consult your doctor before taking this vitamin.