HDL cholesterol levels increase when an individual maintains a healthy weight, quits smoking tobacco or routinely performs 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise several days a week, states WebMD. HDL is known as “good cholesterol,” and higher levels reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol travels the bloodstream and removes excess low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which is considered “bad cholesterol,” according to WebMD. HDL also clears harmful debris from the inner walls of blood vessel walls, helping to prevent tissue damage and eventual narrowing of the arteries.
Increasing aerobic activity to at least 30 minutes five times a week can raise HDL cholesterol by roughly 5 percent, explains Mayo Clinic. Individuals should choose activities that boost heart rate, such as walking, cycling, swimming or jogging. Reducing sedentary behaviors yields an additional benefit that contributes to higher HDL levels: weight management. Every 6 pounds of weight loss can increase HDL cholesterol by 1 milligram per deciliter.
In a heart-healthy diet, saturated and trans fats are limited to 7 percent of daily calories to keep LDL levels low, notes Mayo Clinic. In contrast, unsaturated fats should make up the majority of the recommended 25 to 35 percent of daily fat consumption to help HDL cholesterol fight inflammation.