Aside from HDL, giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do. It has been shown that on average, men who smoke have HDL levels 5.3 mg/dl lower than non-smokers. The difference is even more in women: around 9 mg/dl lower than non-smokers. Remember a 4.4 mg/dl can mean a 3-5% reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. Recent articles suggest that quitting all forms of tobacco can increase HDL cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent.
A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and legumes, is strongly linked to high levels of HDL. So is eating more fish (and taking fish oil supplements) and consuming fewer refined carbohydrates.
Several types of fats can also make a big difference. Most helpful are the monounsaturated fats found in canola, olive, avocado, nut and seed oils; nuts and avocados. Increasing your daily intake soluble fiber is also beneficial. Soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and oats and whole grain foods.
Moreover it seems the old saying that “vino fa buon sangue” wine makes good blood is true. Alcohol, particularly red wine, consumed in moderation, helps to raise HDL. More than one or two drinks a day can be very detrimental for your health.
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There are several classes of drugs currently prescribed for cholesterol disorders. Even though their prime job is to decrease the “bad” LDL, they do also increase HDL cholesterol levels.
This class of drug can raise HDL anywhere from 3 to 10 percent. Being as they are the most effective drug for reducing the harmful LDL, 3-10% isn’t so bad as a fringe benefit. However, other classes of drugs are more effective on raising HDL, while not quite so effective on getting the “bad” LDL down to desired levels.
This class of drug is actually from the B group of vitamins; however it is a much more potent source than can be found at your local health store. Niacin, or nicotinic acid, can increase HDL cholesterol levels by 15 to 30 percent. Although this is an effective medication if your suffer from diabetes it is very unlikely that your doctor will put you on this class of drugs.
This class of drug is commonly prescribes for triglyceride disorders. However triglycerides and HDL go hand in hand. When triglycerides are high HDL levels are commonly low, and vice-versa. This class of drug generally raises HDL by 10-15%.
Drugs are drugs and don’t come without risks. In fact, some doctors, in order to get their patients cholesterol levels to desired levels, are prescribing statins in together with nicotinic acid or fibrates. This can increase the risk of liver dysfunction or muscle toxicity, a rare but potentially serious complication of statins. This may also occur if combines with some antibiotics or anti-depressants.
From the methods above, you can see that to increase HDL cholesterol levels can be with or without risks; and with or without costs. If you truly value your health, and your money, you should seriously try the lifestyle modifications. If you still need drugs, if you implement the recommended lifestyle modification the dosages are almost guaranteed to be lower. However, never alter the dosage of any medication without speaking to your doctor.
For part 1 of this article, please select the following link: hdl cholesterol – part 1
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