Lower Risk of Heart Disease by Increasing Your HDL Cholesterol Level

March 4, 2007 by  

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By Connie Limon

The best way to lower your risk of heart disease is to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Increased risk of coronary artery disease is caused by the bad cholesterol buildup (LDL cholesterol) that forms plaques. These plaques make arteries hard and narrow, which contributes to coronary artery disease.

The good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver for disposal. The higher your HDL cholesterol, the less bad cholesterol you will have in your blood.

If you don’t know your HDL level, ask your doctor for a baseline cholesterol test. You need to think “high” when it comes to HDL cholesterol. Most people should have an HDL level of 60 mg/dL or above. An HDL level below 40 mg/dL increases the risk of heart disease. If your HDL level is not within a desirable range, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes.

Even the smallest changes to your daily habits can help you meet your HDL target level. Review the following:

• Don’t smoke. Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol (remember you want to think in terms of what will raise your HDL cholesterol levels).

• Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight lowers HDL cholesterol. If you are overweight, losing just a few pounds can increase your HDL level.

• Get more physical activity. Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise increases HDL cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week, if not every day. If you can’t fit a long workout into your schedule, break it up into smaller sessions spread out through the day.

• Choose healthier fats. You need to include some fat in your diet to be healthy. However, you must choose healthy fats and stay away from the unhealthy choices. Use less saturated fat. Avoid foods that contain trans fat. This includes most margarine, most commercial baked products and anything with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Monounsaturated fat found in olive, peanut and canola oils is a healthier choice. Nuts, fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are other good choices.

• Drink alcohol in moderation. If you already drink some alcohol red wine has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol in some studies. The benefits are not strong enough to recommend red wine to people who do not drink already. If you already drink alcohol, drink in moderation, no more than one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men. There are some medications used to lower LDL cholesterol that may also increase HDL cholesterol. These medications include:

• Niacin

• Fibrates (Lopid and others)

• Stains (Lipitor, Zocor and others)

Researchers continue to study for other medications. In the meanwhile, lifestyle changes will help you to achieve an optimal HDL level. If your doctor prescribes a medication to help control your cholesterol, take it as directed while you incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine as well.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about specific medical concerns.

Author: Connie Limon. Please visit our collection of Nutrition and Health articles at nutritionandhealthhub.com Articles are available for FREE reprint to your newsletter, website or blog. Please sign up for our weekly nutrition and health tips.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Connie_Limon

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2 Responses to “Lower Risk of Heart Disease by Increasing Your HDL Cholesterol Level”
  1. Well .. I’ll take your word on that! We pretty much use two types in our household .. Becel and Becel Light and neither have any trans fat!

    Thanks for comments and the links Emma!

  2. Emma says:

    Trans fat naturally occurs in some foods, like butter, but are also formed in the processing of some foods where product texture and shelf life are desired. I’ve learned a lot about this subject because I work with the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers. In addition, heart disease runs in my family so I’ve got a personal interest in this subject as well.

    Have you looked at a margarine label lately? You won’t find any soft or liquid margarine that contain trans fat, and trans fat levels of stick margarines have been greatly reduced. Using new technologies, margarine manufacturers have met the challenge and eliminated or reduced trans fat in margarine products, making a good product even better. In fact, the margarine industry has led the food industry in removing trans fat content from its products. Soft, liquid and spray margarine products are now in sync with the recommendations included in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid food guidance system. Soft margarine products were elevated in their importance in that they “help meet essential fatty acid needs and also contribute toward Vitamin E needs” according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report.

    When comparing margarine to butter, many margarine products are the recommended alternative as stated by of the American Heart Association, as well as the Federal government’s National Cholesterol Education Program. And yes, it’s still an economical choice for the consumer. For more information, visit margarine.org/qanda.html, hp2010.nhlbihin.net/cholmonth/chol_kit.htm and www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200000.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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