How can I increase my HDL without using medication?
HDL stands for high density lipoproteins. We always hear about lowering cholesterol, but this kind of cholesterol is one that we want high. A high level of this “good cholesterol,” actually reduces the risk of heart disease, as opposed to LDL (low density lipoproteins) which raises the risk when levels are high.
Most cholesterol medications do not raise HDL levels; they lower LDL. Taking the hormone estrogen seems to raise HDL levels in women. But the majority of people can improve their blood lipid (fat) profile without medication. There are several lifestyle changes that may help.
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can raise the good cholesterol levels. Exercise is another excellent way and regular exercise will also help you lose weight. On the subject of diet, people who eat lots of sweets may increase their HDL levels by cutting back.
Smoking lowers HDL and raises the risk of heart disease in other ways, too. So if you have the habit, it is time to quit. Alcohol also seems to give HDL a little boost — but only in small amounts. No more than one drink a day for women and two for men should do it. More, and you risk crossing the threshold from a beneficial to a detrimental effect on cholesterol.