Incorporating healthy fats into a diet plan, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, is helpful for improving high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, ratios, according to Mayo Clinic. Other foods with a positive effect on cholesterol levels include whole grains and plant-sterols.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive, canola and peanut oil, help to enhance HDL's ability to reduce or ward off inflammation, states Mayo Clinic. Other healthy food choices include almonds, oatmeal and whole-wheat products. Margarine spreads such as Promise Activ and Benecol contain beta-sitosterol and beta-sitostanol and are healthier than using butter.
Other ways to improve cholesterol levels include drinking in moderation, if at all, explains Mayo Clinic. Losing weight and incorporating exercise into a regular routine helps improve and manage healthy cholesterol. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times per week, including cycling, running, walking and swimming, has been known to improve HDL by up to 5 percent. Shorter segments throughout the day can also be effective.
Medication prescribed by a doctor can help lower LDL and improve HDL, according to Mayo Clinic. Niacin, fibrates and statins may be prescribed depending on the individual's needs. Additionally, chronic smokers should consider talking to a doctor about ways to effectively quit. HDL levels can increase by up to 10 percent in those who succeed in quitting.