5 Foods That Raise Your HDL

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5 Foods That Raise Your HDL

Written by Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

So you got the results of your recent cholesterol test, and your HDL cholesterol came back low. Since low HDL is a risk factor for heart disease, you know that you need to elevate it...but how? When all the stories you read are talking about lowering your total cholesterol, why would you want to increase this form of cholesterol?

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the "good" cholesterol. It acts like a cholesterol dump truck, gathering "bad" cholesterol from the arteries and carrying it back to the liver for clearance. This heart protective effect may even slow the buildup of plaque in the arterial walls of the heart. HDL may also have some anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial to your heart. That's why you want your HDL to be high, so it can better carry out these responsibilities and protect your ticker.

What should my HDL be?

According to the American Heart Association, men should aim for HDL levels of 40 mg/dL or greater, and women should aim higher than 50 mg/dL. Levels of 60 mg/dL or more for both genders have been linked to lower disease risks and protection against heart disease. Genetics can affect your HDL level, but lifestyle choices still also play a role. If you want to fight your genes and improve your HDL levels, the following foods can help.

Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, and hazelnuts are all good sources of heart-healthy fats and are great to add to your diet to increase your intake. Add nuts to cereal, yogurt, salad, stir fries, pasta dishes or rice. You can eat them raw, baked or lightly toasted, too.

Seafood

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, and halibut are highest in omega-3 fatty acids, a specific type of unsaturated fat shown to be most beneficial for heart health and reduce the risk of death by heart attack. It is recommended to eat at least 2 servings of fish per week. If you don't eat seafood, you could try fish oil supplements; flaxseed and walnuts contain omega 3ís as well, but fish contains the most usable form of omega-3s.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in unsaturated fats and can help you elevate your HDL. Replace butter and fried foods with foods cooked lightly in a heart-healthy olive oil, and switch to an oil-based vinaigrette for your salads. Oil is healthy, but it's high in fat and calories, so remember to practice moderation and keep your portions in check!

Avocado

Although many dieters shy away from this fruit because of its high fat content, it's perfectly good for you thanks to its heart-healthy fats. Mash avocado to use as a spread on your sandwich or wrap, dice it into your salad, add it to omelets or whip up some homemade guacamole to enjoy with veggies or whole grain crackers.

Oatmeal

Fiber, especially soluble fiber, can help bump up your HDL while reducing LDL. Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, as is rice, bran, barley, dried peas and beans, and certain fruits like prunes and apples. A couple servings a day of these heart-healthy foods can have a positive effect on your HDL.

Don't Forget Exercise!

Along with these HDL-boosting foods, donít forget the daily exercise! Regular exercise signals your body to produce more HDL, making physical activity one of the most important factors to raising your HDL. Start with just 5-10 minutes a few days a week, but gradually increase until you're active for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week. Your heart will thank you!

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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TPETRIE

9/26/2012 11:47:28 AM

TPETRIE's SparkPage
I eat all of these foods. They are delicious.

LONIANNE

9/26/2012 11:45:47 AM

JoKonn: Another thing you can do is see the "head honcho" of your clinic and make a formal complaint against this Dr. and his unethical treatment of you with all those mean words & uncaring attitude.

I had to do this once many years ago due to a young punk of a Dr. who also scared me out of my wits (I had a blood clot in my leg) by telling me that I was going to die. A few days later, I wrote a lette of complaint to the Head of the clinic. In less than a month, he was fired.

hth

(re-submitted due to a spelling error)

ZUWAIRA

9/26/2012 11:44:30 AM

ZUWAIRA's SparkPage
I eat all these apart from the Avocado, i need to develop the habit of eating it lol

LONIANNE

9/26/2012 11:42:59 AM

JoKonn: Another thing you can do is see the "head honcho" of your clinic and make a formal complaint against this Dr. and his unethical treatment of you with all those mean words & uncaring attitude.

I had to do this once many years ago due to a young punk of a Dr. who also scared me out of my wits (I had a blood clot in my leg) by telling me that I was going to die. A few days later, I wrote a lette of complaintr to the Head of the clinic. In less than a month, he was fired.

hth

LIZTER

9/26/2012 11:14:18 AM

LIZTER's SparkPage
Whether raising HDL, incorporating nuts, berries, mushrooms, onions, beans, and other foods that assist with good digestion, or trying to add healthy omega-3 oils, I find I can not incorporate ALL these healthy foods into a single day's menu. I HAVE found that I crave junk food less.

DAKOTAHKAT

9/26/2012 9:49:18 AM

DAKOTAHKAT's SparkPage
JOKONN, you really need to find a new doctor. I saw that you're in Missouri. If you're in the St. Charles area, I know of a couple of really good ones.

DAKOTAHKAT

9/26/2012 9:47:17 AM

DAKOTAHKAT's SparkPage
SUEKAW6, if you have a dog, walk him/her. If you don't, you could volunteer to walk the dogs at the Humane Society or an animal shelter, if there is one in your community. The commitment might help motivate you and the pups would absolutely love you!

SUEKAW6

9/26/2012 8:52:01 AM

I do eat and do all that is recommended except the exercise. I'm great when I have someone I have to meet to walk but to get myself out to walk it just doesn't happen. I get distracted by things that need to get done in the house or the garden then off to work. I do try to park farther away, take stairs when I can, etc. but can't motivate myself to get on and stay on a set exercise regiem. How does one force themself out and going??

HONDABLONDE

9/26/2012 8:43:52 AM

HONDABLONDE's SparkPage
Jokonn - PLEASE find a different (and better) doctor, one who CARES for his/her patients!

That one seems not only uninformed, but rude and insensitive.

Bless you, you can do it. You WILL do it!

May God Bless,
Debb
XOX

AMMACLARKE

9/26/2012 8:42:55 AM

I feel for all of you. I can relate to not being able to lose weight. I'm not diabetic, thank God, but I have tons of other health conditions that make it challenging. and I'm 63 years old. My daughter in law is Type 1. We both started a plan that's finally working for us. She had to watch her insulin levels and make adjustments the first week, but she's down 13 lbs in 5 weeks and I'm down 17 lbs in 9 weeks. We couldn't lose the weight before no matter what we tried. Hopefully, it will keep working for us.

WOUBBIE

9/26/2012 8:17:13 AM

WOUBBIE's SparkPage
One important thing to note is what you DIDN'T see on this list:

Processed foods
Food high in carbohydrates

It's one of life's little ironies that starch and sugar from your diet become bad fats in your blood, while natural fats from your diet (in the absence of high carb foods) become energy.

NVRDWN88

9/26/2012 8:12:14 AM

NVRDWN88's SparkPage
Eat.all of these already yeah.....

JULIETRESS

9/19/2012 11:58:25 PM

JULIETRESS's SparkPage
jokonn, I read your post and I hope you have found a new doctor. I live in Missouri, not sure where you are but I know of a Great Endocrinologist , so if you read this, message me . Julie

JUDSTERF

9/19/2012 1:04:21 PM

JUDSTERF's SparkPage
Yokonn - - not only would i be looking for a new doctor, but I think I also would be contact the AMA and report this incident. This man should not be calling himself a doctor nor should he be practicing as a doctor.

I, too, have diabetes 2 and it is harder to lose weight along with all the other medical problems I have that prevent me from dong a lot of the exercises. The diatitian (sp) has me on 1800 calories and when I'm hospitalized, that diatitian also puts me on 1800 calories. SP has me on 1500 which I find I can handle - - any less than that is rediculous!!!!!!

Judy

CASEYJMC

9/18/2012 1:38:25 PM

My total cholesterol had been 207. Last month, my cholesterol went up to 208, but my HDL has increased five points. I eat oatbran with blueberries every single morning, and I eat fish and nuts regularly. I also started taking fish oil supplements, and I mix freshly ground flaxseed into my oatbran once it's cooked. It does work.

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