To keep HDL cholesterol levels at the recommended 60 milligrams per deciliter or higher, avoid smoking, exercise more frequently, choose healthier fats, drink alcohol only in moderation and lose extra weight, states Mayo Clinic. High-density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, help pick up and transport excess cholesterol in the bloodstream back to the liver for break down, making them an important part of maintaining ideal cholesterol levels.
Helpful foods to raise HDL cholesterol levels include whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols and nuts, suggests Mayo Clinic. If lifestyle and dietary changes are insufficient, a doctor may suggest medication to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels to an ideal range. Prescription niacin is the preferred treatment because of its fewer side effects, but it is important to distinguish between it and the niacin in dietary supplements, which may damage the liver. Doctors may prescribe fibrates and statins instead.
Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol, carry cholesterol throughout the body, circulating it through the bloodstream, according to Mayo Clinic. Excess cholesterol enters the blood vessel walls and builds up beneath the lining; these deposits are called plaque and narrow the blood vessels, eventually blocking the artery and causing coronary artery disease. Focusing on raising HDL cholesterol levels can help lower LDL cholesterol.