Your doctor must have told you a thousand times that you should raise
hdl cholesterol level in your blood in order to keep your heart healthy.
But, what do you know about cholesterol? Is there really ‘good’
cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol?
• Cholesterol is a sticky natural material found in all the cells of your body, it helps in anchoring these cells to each others, thus it is very important in building the body tissues.
• Cholesterol is essential in the production and secretion of some important sex hormones.
• Cholesterol is not dissolved in the blood; therefore, it has to be carried from and to the cells by carriers (mainly proteins) via blood stream. These carriers are called lipoproteins.
Furthermore, there are two types of these lipoproteins:
Low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is described as bad cholesterol, because when it accumulates in the blood it causes atherosclerosis by narrowing the arteries that nourish heart and brain. Eventually, a narrowed artery can be easily blocked by a blood clot resulting in a stroke or even a heart attack.
High density lipoprotein (HDL), this is good cholesterol, because high levels of HDL (more than 40 mg/dl) tend to wash away cholesterol from blood vessels, thus protecting against heart diseases.
Medical expert assume that for every 1 mg/dl raise in HDL cholesterol level in your blood, there is about 2-4% decrease in the risk of having a heart disease.
Normal HDL cholesterol level ranges from 40 to 60 mg/dl. When HDL level increases than 60 mg/dl, it will protect you from coronary heart diseases.
The most important question you should ask yourself is how you can raise hdl cholesterol levels in your blood.
1. Practice some light exercise (for 20-30 minutes) regularly, like cycling, waking, running, and aerobics. These types of sports increase your heart rate for some time, thus raise hdl cholesterol.
2. Keep your weight normal; losing weight increases HDL cholesterol, while obesity increases LDL cholesterol in your blood.
3. Avoid eating saturated fats, only mono-unsaturated fats can raise hdl cholesterol without raising total blood cholesterol.
4. Eat at least 2 servings of foods containing soluble fibers daily.
5. Beware that refined carbohydrates raise your blood sugar and decrease HDL levels.
6. You should know that eating ½ raw onion daily will raise hdl cholesterol by 30%
7. Avoid drinking alcohol. The American Heart Association encourages doctors to advise their patients to stop drinking to keep their hearts healthy.
8. Stop smoking cigarettes, as tobacco decreases HDL cholesterol.
9. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) suggests that niacin (vitamin B3) is very important in regulating your blood cholesterol. Niacin can raise hdl cholesterol by 30%, plus decreasing total blood cholesterol by 10- 25%.
10. Eat a lot of fish, walnuts, and other foods containing omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that can raise hdl cholesterol.
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