Mayo Clinic lists several ways people can raise their HDL cholesterol, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, physical activity, consumption of healthier fats and drinking alcohol in moderation. Medications including niacin, statins and fibrates have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels. Patients who consume whole grains, nuts, plant sterols and omega-3 fatty acids increase their "good" cholesterol.
People who quit smoking raise their HDL cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent, according to Mayo Clinic. For every 6 pounds of lost weight, HDL in the blood goes up by 1 milligram per decaliter. Frequent aerobic exercise may increase HDL cholesterol by as much as 5 percent after two months. A heart-healthy diet to lower "bad" cholesterol includes 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories from fat, and those fats should be unsaturated.
Moderate alcohol consumption raises HDL levels, which means one or two drinks per day in otherwise healthy adults. Mayo Clinic warns patients should not start drinking alcohol just to increase good cholesterol.
Prescription niacin is one of the best medications to raise HDL cholesterol levels, according to Mayo Clinic. Fibrate medications such as fenofibrate and gemfibrozil help normalize cholesterol. Statins block the liver from producing cholesterol.
Whole grains that help HDL levels include oatmeal, oat bran and whole-wheat products. Mayo Clinic explains walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts also raise HDL. Plant sterols such as beta-sitosterol and beta-sitostanol in margarine spreads help. Fatty fish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements have been shown to increase HDL.