10 Measures to Increase HDL

Cholesterol is a fatty substance widely present in the body and essential for the formation of the cells, metabolism of vitamins, hormone production and various other vital functions.

Aerobic exercises
Aerobic exercises

Although an extremely useful substance, when in excess, cholesterol can be deposited on the walls of blood vessels. This process is called atherosclerosis and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attacks.

In general, patients with high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) are those with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, in addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL cholesterol is one of the goals of treatment of patients with cholesterol problems. Unfortunately, unlike high LDL, which has several options for treatment, low HDL is more difficult to be corrected.

What is HDL cholesterol?

Like drops of oil do not dissolve in water, cholesterol can not mix the blood is not connected to a special protein called lipoprotein. The two major lipoproteins of our body are the LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein , which in Portuguese means low-density lipoprotein, and HDL, which stands for high-density lipoprotein, which in Portuguese means high-density lipoprotein.

Role of LDL

LDL is a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol produced by the liver to the rest of the cells and tissues of the body. If your body cholesterol has more than necessary, the excess continues circulating in the blood demand for an organ that requires more cholesterol to function properly. Over time, the circulating LDL excess ends up depositing on the walls of blood vessels and accumulate in the form of cholesterol plaques.

As the deposit grows, the wall grows and becomes narrow the vessel lumen (hollow inside, through which blood circulates) so far as to block blood flow, causing ischemia fed organs by this vessel taken by plaque cholesterol. This is why LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad cholesterol or bad cholesterol. It is also why the excess LDL cholesterol increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Importance of HDL

Since HDL is a lipoprotein that is an opposite function to LDL. HDL acts as a "collector" cholesterol, taking the current excess in the blood or deposited in the blood vessels to take it back to the liver, where it will be "dismantled", added to the bile and eliminated in the feces.

Therefore, the higher are the HDL cholesterol levels, lower the risk of formation of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels. Therefore, HDL cholesterol is considered good or healthy cholesterol.

Desired values of HDL

In general, the higher the HDL, the better. The classification of HDL cholesterol as its blood level is made as follows:
  • HDL lower than 40 mg/dl - values below the desired.
  • HDL between 41 and 60 mg/dl - normal values.
  • HDL greater than 60 mg/dl - ideal values.

  • HDL lower than 50 mg/dl - values below the desired.
  • HDL between 51 and 60 mg/dl - normal values.
  • HDL greater than 60 mg/dl - ideal values.

Why is it so difficult to raise HDL?

In most cases, low HDL have a genetic origin. The patient has low HDL because your body produces little HDL naturally. Furthermore, the values can be further reduced by bad living habits such as bad diet, physical inactivity and smoking.

Therefore, low HDL is a difficult problem to be corrected by 3 factors:
  • Having a genetic origin makes incorrigible definitively, at least to date with our current scientific knowledge.
  • The fact that no drugs specifically developed to increase HDL values prevents the patient may increase the levels of lipoprotein only taking one tablet per day, as with those who want to lower LDL. Drugs used to control LDL often increase HDL, but they are not indicated in patients with normal LDL and low HDL.
  • The only effective measures are those related to changes in life habits, that most of the people show up very tough to do.

Raising HDL

What we provide below are 10 tips on how to raise HDL cholesterol. In general, none of the actions that will be explained causes a large increase in HDL alone. To be a relevant response is necessary to add at least 2 or 3 of the following tips.

1. Aerobic exercises

Frequent aerobic exercise, i.e. at least 20 to 30 minutes for 4 to 5 times a week, may increase HDL cholesterol in about 5 to 10% by sedentary adults. The more intense and more frequent the activity, the better the response

Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, playing basketball, football or any other activity that increases your heart rate steadily for at least 30 minutes. To be effective, the heart needs to be accelerated all the time, within the caloric burn recommended range for your age. If you walk and at all times, allowing the heart to slow down and return to the level of normal beats, this has no effect.

For those lacking time, 20 min exercise at least 3 times a week, is the minimum acceptable.

If you are already an active person physically (30 minutes, 5 times a week) and still have low HDL, increase the exercise load will not bring greater benefits. It is better to focus on other life habit changes.

2. Lose weight

This tip obviously only serves to obese or overweight. If you are already thin, that is, if you have a body mass index below 25, losing weight will have little effect on your HDL.

However, those people with a BMI greater than 25 and especially those with a BMI greater than 35, every kilogram of weight lost account. On average, for every 2.5 kg emaciated, HDL rises 1 mg/dl. Therefore, a person with HDL cholesterol 35 mg/dl who can lose weight from 100 kg to 75 kg and this will increase HDL cholesterol to about 45 mg/dl.

3. Stop smoking

In people who have low HDL and smoke, stopping smoking can raise HDL levels by up to 10%.

4. Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages

If on one hand the moderate alcohol consumption seems to improve materially HDL levels if the patient exaggerate and take more than 2 or 3 servings of alcohol per day, the effect of raising HDL is lost and the greater becomes cardiovascular risk.

Who does not drink should not start doing it only to increase HDL, because the risks of alcohol consumption may outweigh the benefits of small elevations of HDL.

5. Consume fats healthier

Mono and polyunsaturated fats, present in olive oil, olives, canola oil, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, fish rich in omega 3, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and avocado, are considered healthy fats, which help lower LDL and raise HDL.

On the other hand, trans fat or saturated fat present in fast-food, candy, chocolate, butter, meat and various industrial products are bad for the health, because, among other effects, reduce LDL and increase the HDL.

6. Fibre consume

Daily consumption of foods rich in fiber, such as oat bran, legumes, fruits and vegetables help to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.

7. Avoid consuming excess carbs

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates raises levels of triglycerides and lower HDL levels. Sweets, soft drinks, pasta, bread etc., if consumed in high frequency can aggravate the values of your HDL. Give preference for bread, cereals and wholemeal pasta, juices and dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa.

Fruits have low glycemic load and are not problems. The red or purple-colored fruits appear to have the best effects on HDL. Examples are blackberries, grapes, cherry, cranberry, etc.

8. Avoid medication that reduces HDL

Some drugs widely used by the population can cause reductions in HDL levels. Antihypertensives of the class of beta-blockers such as atenolol, propranolol, bisoprolol and are an example. Another example is the anxiolytic benzodiazepines group as diazepam, midazolam, alprazolam and bromazepam.

Anabolic steroids or other drugs containing androgens or their precursors also operate to decrease HDL.

9. Margarines rich in phytosterols

There are in special margarines market with plant sterols (phytosterols) that help lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL levels. The two most famous brands are Becel pro-activ and Benecol. Attention is no margarine serving. If they are not enriched with phytosterols, the result is the opposite of the desired.

10. Medicines that increases HDL

Most drugs used to treat LDL and triglycerides also act raising HDL. THE most effective are the niacin and gemfibrozil. Statin such as rosuvastatin can raise HDL by 10%.

It is important to note that no studies to date have proven benefits of drug use exclusively to raise HDL. If the patient does not have elevated LDL or triglycerides, there is no indication prescribe drugs only in order to raise HDL.

The replacement of estrogen after menopause helps to raise HDL.

The replacement of calcium and vitamin D appear to help reduce HDL, but studies have shown conflicting results, and there is therefore a consensus on the subject.

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