Healthy foods that help the body create high amounts of good cholesterol are those that have high amounts of soluble fiber. Flax seeds, soybeans, apples and oranges all contribute to good cholesterol levels. Olive oil and fish are also known for promoting high levels of good cholesterol, as well as whole grains and wine in moderation. Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates also raise good cholesterol but are not recommended, as they increase levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Aside from food, levels of good cholesterol are encouraged by maintenance of a healthy weight and regular exercise. Additionally, women are known to have higher levels of good cholesterol than men.
Cholesterol comes in two types. Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol, transport cholesterol to organs and tissues throughout the body and allow the excess to collect on the walls of blood vessels, forming plaques that eventually restrict blood flow. High density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, gather excess LDL cholesterol for transport to the liver to be broken down.
While reducing LDL cholesterol is ideal, HDL cholesterol also needs to be increased. Both men and women should have HDL levels of at least 60 mg/dL. Men are considered at a greater risk for heart attacks when their HDL levels dip below 40 mg/dL. Women are at risk when their levels are less than 50 mg/dL.