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How Can I Raise My ‘Good’ Cholesterol?

How Can I Raise My ‘Good’ Cholesterol?

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, is the kind of cholesterol that builds up in your arteries and can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a risk factor for heart attack. 

On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is sometimes referred to as “good” cholesterol because it picks up excess cholesterol and carries it back to your liver, where your body can dispose of it. 

At Heart & Vascular Institute, we find many patients are confused about their cholesterol numbers. Our physicians are always happy to answer your questions, and in this post, we offer tips to help you find ways to raise your good cholesterol. 

You may not be surprised to learn that many of these tips also can improve your overall health. 

Lifestyle matters

Your lifestyle makes a big difference in your overall health, and in your cholesterol levels. “Lifestyle” includes how much exercise you get, how much you move throughout the day, your habits, your diet, your stress levels, and other factors that impact you on a day-to-day basis.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help raise your HDL cholesterol. Here’s what that means. 

Quit smoking

You know that smoking is bad for your health, but it bears repeating. Smoking affects HDL cholesterol specifically by inhibiting your body’s ability to produce it. That’s in addition, of course, to raising your risk of heart attack, lung cancer, and numerous other poor health outcomes. 


The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week. 

Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking — any exercise that raises your heart rate — can help raise your HDL levels, and offers many other benefits as well. 

Exercise can improve your mental health, help you maintain muscle strength, lower your risk of heart disease, and help you lose extra weight if you need to. 

Weight loss

If you’re obese or overweight, losing the extra pounds can raise your good cholesterol. We understand that it’s much easier to say “lose some weight” than it is to actually lose, and keep off, those pounds. 

Exercise can help you lose weight, particularly when it’s in combination with a healthy diet. If you’re not sure how to go about losing weight, talk to your doctor. We can direct you to resources to help you figure out the best approach for you. 

Make dietary changes

Avoiding foods with trans fats, such as deep-fried foods, can help raise your HDL cholesterol. Lowering your intake of sugar or avoiding refined sugar may also help. 

Adding fish to your diet may help raise your HDL, thanks to the high content of omega-3 fatty acid. You can also benefit from eating more flaxseed and walnuts. 

Get expert help

One of the most important steps in lowering LDL and raising HDL is talking to your doctor. Your circumstances are unique, and there are factors specific to your situation. 

Understanding your cholesterol numbers is important, but getting advice tailored to you is also a crucial step in your quest to raise your HDL. 

At Heart & Vascular Institute, we design your treatment program so that it works for you. And when you ask questions and actively participate in your care, the outcome is likely to be better. 

If you’d like to learn more about cholesterol and how it relates to your health, call one of our offices, in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan, or book your appointment online today. 

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