How can you increase your good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol?


Quick Answer

Some ways to increase good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol include making lifestyle changes, such as not smoking, losing weight and exercising, as well as taking certain medications and eating specific foods, according to Mayo Clinic. Choosing healthier fats can also be effective in improving cholesterol levels.

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Full Answer

LDL cholesterol is "bad" cholesterol because it creates plaques that may block blood flow due to narrowing blood vessels. HDL cholesterol is "good" cholesterol because it brings extra cholesterol out of the blood and into the liver. Quitting smoking can increase HDL cholesterol by 10 percent, explains Mayo Clinic. Every few pounds a person loses can increase his HDL cholesterol, and exercising for 30 minutes several times a week can increase good cholesterol by 5 percent.

Some medications that lower LDL cholesterol may also increase HDL cholesterol. These include niacin, fibrates and statins, states Mayo Clinic. Statins block a substance necessary to make cholesterol, which decreases the amount of cholesterol in the liver cells and blood. Some foods that may improve cholesterol levels are whole grains, including oatmeal and oat bran; nuts, including walnuts; plant sterols, often present in certain margarine spreads; and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseed oil and fish supplements.

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