The single greatest thing a person can do to improve her high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, level is to make positive lifestyle changes that include quitting smoking and losing weight, according to Mayo Clinic. Doing these two things may improve a person's HDL level by over 10 percent.
For every 6 pounds a person loses, her HDL level may improve by as much as 1 milligram per deciliter, states Mayo Clinic. Becoming more physically active is another way to increase a person's HDL level. Not only does a person lose more weight when becoming more physically active, but after two months of frequent anaerobic exercise, a person's HDL level may increase up to 5 percent when compared to otherwise healthy, but more sedentary adults. The best way to accomplish this is to perform a brisk, 30-minute exercise five times a week. Examples of brisk, anaerobic exercise include swimming, running, walking and cycling.
Choosing healthier fats is another way a person can improve her HDL level, according to Mayo Clinic. In a heart-healthy diet, only around 7 percent of a person's total caloric intake should come from saturated fats. Instead, people should choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil and peanut oil. Switching to these fats tends to improve HDL's anti-inflammatory capabilities and is a good way to improve the ratio between HDL and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL.