Its more difficult to raise HDL (good cholesterol) than it is to lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Statin drugs routinely lower LDL by 30 to 40 percent. Here are ways to improve HDL:
EXERCISE: Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes several times a week can raise HDL by 3 to 9 percent in sedentary, healthy people. But youll have to get your heart rate up. There is little evidence that walking increases HDL.
STOP SMOKING: Average increase of HDL by 4 milligrams per deciliter.
WEIGHT CONTROL: Every 2.2 pounds of weight lost raises HDL by an average of 0.35 mg/dl.
ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION: Mild to moderate drinking (1 to 2 drinks per day) can raise HDL by an average of 4 mg/dl.
DIET: A diet low in trans fatty acids and high in monounstaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can raise HDL. Choose oils such as olive, flaxseed, and canola; nuts; cold-water fish; and shellfish. Limit high-glycemic-load foods such as pasta and bread made with refined flour, which can lower HDL.
NIACIN THERAPY: Increases of 25 to 35 percent.
FIBRATE THERAPY: Increases of 10 to 25 percent.
STATINS: Increases of 2 to 15 percent.
Sources: American Heart Association; Dr. William Averill; New England Journal of Medicine
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