If your latest medical reports indicated that your cholesterol levels are off the charts, then you are in need of a medical intervention. Besides popping pills, its time you followed a strict health regimen to up your good cholesterol levels.
Good cholesterol is also called as high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Increasing concentrations of HDL particles are strongly associated with decreasing accumulation of atherosclerosis within the walls of arteries. HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. Focusing on diet and healthy lifestyle helps in improving healthy or good cholesterol.
Here are six ways in which you can up your good cholesterol:
A healthy diet: Choosing healthy fats in diet will automatically boost the HDL levels. Consume flaxseeds, nuts like almonds, walnuts, salmon, and tuna, which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fibre plays an important role in you meals. Include whole grains like quinoa, oats, brans etc, for fibre-rich food. Avoid foods that contain transfats and saturated fats.
Exercise: Physical activity and regular exercise helps in building and improving good cholesterol level. Routine exercise like walking, using stairs, upper and lower body weight training are useful. Research has shows that regular exercise, before meals produces an elevation on HDL levels. Moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise will raise HDL. At least 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity is recommended.
Moderate alcohol intake: Some studies show that mild to moderate consumption of alcohol lowers the risk of heart disease. Red wine, in particular, contains reveratrol, which has antioxidant properties and might protect artery wall. Limited alcohol consumption raises HDL levels by increasing the transport rate of apolipo proteins A-I and A-II.
Ideal body weight: Maintaining an ideal body weight keeps good cholesterol levels in check. A few simple food changes will help in weight management. Cut down on sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, jams and cakes. Use healthy ways of cooking like grilling and oven baking. Trim the fat off meat and take the skin off chicken. Includes and choose low fat dairy products. Eat more of fruits and vegetables.
Include functional food: Consume foods containing ingredients that aid specific bodily functions apart from being nutritious. Oats products contain B-glucan, which lowers cholesterol. Soy products also increase good cholesterol. Presence of linolenic acid in flaxseed make it beneficial for raising HDL in blood. Tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, citrus fruits, cranberry, green tea and grapes are some of the other functional foods.
Quit smoking: People, who successfully quit smoking, stand a better chance of improving their cholesterol profile.
(The author is head of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Aakash Healthcare)