High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol, plays an important role in preventing heart disease and promoting overall health. HDL works by transporting cholesterol from the body’s cells to the liver, which then removes the cholesterol from the body. Not only does this process help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, but it also helps protect against atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fatty plaque on the artery walls.
Importance of HDL Cholesterol Levels
Regular monitoring of your HDL cholesterol level is one of the best ways to maintain heart health and avoid cardiac events. Having an optimal balance between HDL and other forms of cholesterol, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, is also essential for avoiding heart disease.
In general, higher HDL levels are better for health. The American Heart Association recommends that an adult should have an HDL level of at least 40mg/dL for men, and 50mg/dL for women. Research shows that increasing your HDL can reduce your risk for heart attack and other forms of cardiovascular disease, as well as improve other aspects of health, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Ways to Increase your HDL Levels
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to increase your HDL levels. Getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and quitting smoking are all key steps toward boosting your HDL levels. Exercise helps the body process cholesterol more efficiently, increasing HDL and lowering LDL. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help raise HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help raise HDL and reduce other forms of cholesterol.
Additionally, several medications can help raise HDL levels, such as niacin, fibrates, and statins. Pharmaceutical options should be discussed with your doctor so that an individualized plan is designed.
HDL cholesterol, often called “good” cholesterol, is a key component to maintaining heart health. Having an optimal balance of HDL with other forms of cholesterol, as well as regular monitoring of HDL levels, is important in preventing heart disease and promoting overall health. There are several lifestyle changes and medications that can help increase HDL levels, and it is worth discussing with your doctor any pharmaceutical steps needed to achieve the desired balance.