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Ask Dr. Gourmet

How can I increase my HDL?

What are the best ways to increase HDL (good cholesterol)?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

orange lentils, which are not only legumes but are high in fiber

There are a number of ways for you to raise your good cholesterol levels.

Change in diet is key. Eat a diet that is lower in saturated fat. Choose fats like olive or grapeseed oil for cooking and minimize the amount of butter or other spreads that you use. This means consuming leaner meats when you choose red meat. Choose cuts like filet, flank steak, and top round. There is good research that says eating red meat only about once a week is ideal.

Eat more fish and especially fish that are high in the good fats, like tuna, salmon, halibut, and red snapper. Fill your plate with veggies and fresh foods. Higher fiber diets can help also. Eating legumes, like beans, peas, soybeans, and peanuts have been linked with improvements in cholesterol profile. Eat whole grain cereal for breakfast, like oatmeal, bran flakes, or shredded wheat and bran.

It has also been shown that eating a lower calorie diet can help raise good cholesterol levels:

Eat Less, Have a Younger Heart
Low Calorie Diets and Artherosclerosis

If you smoke, stopping smoking will generally have a positive effect on your HDL cholesterol.

Exercise is key to being healthy for many reasons, and beginning a program of regular aerobic activity has been shown to raise HDL, lower blood pressure, lower LDL (bad cholesterol), and prevent heart disease.

To recap:

1. Eat healthier fats
2. Lean red meats no more than once a week
3. Fish 2 or more times per week
4. More fresh foods including fruits and veggies
5. Legumes
6. Exercise
7. Stop smoking
8. Eat fewer total calories

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet