If your HDL is increased, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease. The best way to do this is through lifestyle changes, such as being more physically active and losing weight. Quitting smoking can also help to improve HDL levels. In addition to lowering LDL, certain cholesterol medications, such as statins and fibrates, can raise HDL.
High density lipoprotein (HDL) is commonly known as the "good cholesterol." HDLs pick up the extra cholesterol that was dropped off by the low density lipoproteins (LDLs) and bring it to your liver. Your liver can then use it later or just get rid of it.
HDL helps remove cholesterol from the blood, so it can help keep cholesterol from building up on the walls of the arteries and forming plaque. If your HDL cholesterol level is below 40 mg/dL, you are at substantially higher risk for heart disease. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the better off you are. In fact, HDL levels above 60 mg/dL are considered protective against heart disease. However, the average HDL cholesterol level for men is about 45 mg/dL; for women, it is about 55 mg/dL.
It is possible to increase HDL. A low level may be the result of factors such as obesity, smoking, and a lack of physical activity. Therefore, lifestyle changes that may help people trying to raise HDL include the following:
- Losing weight
- Moderate exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Moderate alcohol use.
Certain medications can also help, such as:
People who are obese or overweight (see BMI Calculator) often have high triglycerides and low levels of HDL. Often, weight loss alone can significantly increase HDL levels. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet (calorie control) and regular exercise is important in boosting low HDL levels.