Cholesterol is a vital substance in our bodies, but not all types of cholesterol are equal. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because high levels of it can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as “good cholesterol” because of its important role in maintaining heart health.
So, how exactly does HDL protect the heart? Here’s what you need to know:
1.Removes excess cholesterol: HDL helps to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and transport it back to the liver for processing and elimination. This helps to keep cholesterol levels in check and prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
2.Antioxidant properties: HDL has antioxidant properties, which help to protect against oxidative damage to the blood vessels. This can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
3.Regulates inflammation: Inflammation is a key factor in the development of heart disease. HDL has been shown to regulate inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease.
4.Improves endothelial function: Endothelial cells are the cells that line the inside of blood vessels. HDL has been shown to improve the function of these cells, which helps to keep blood vessels healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease.
5.Reduces oxidative stress: Oxidative stress is a type of cellular damage that can contribute to the development of heart disease.
Here are some tips to help you increase your good cholesterol levels:
1. Exercise regularly: Physical activity is one of the best ways to boost your levels of good cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as brisk walking or cycling. Resistance training and weightlifting are also effective for increasing HDL levels.
2. Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources can help to increase your good cholesterol levels. Foods high in fiber, such as oatmeal and legumes, can also be beneficial. Try to limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, as these types of fats can decrease HDL levels.
3. Quit smoking: Smoking is a major contributor to low levels of good cholesterol. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Not only will it increase your levels of good cholesterol, but it will also reduce your risk of developing heart disease and other health problems.
4. Reduce stress: Stress can have a negative impact on your good cholesterol levels. Practice stress-management techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and yoga to help reduce your stress levels.
5. Consider medication: If lifestyle changes are not enough to increase your good cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend medication. Statins are a commonly prescribed type of cholesterol-lowering medication that can be effective in increasing HDL levels.
Making changes to your lifestyle takes time, so be patient and persistent. Incorporating these simple steps into your daily routine can help you achieve and maintain healthy levels of good cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease. Remember, your heart health is in your hands, so take control and start boosting your levels of good cholesterol.
About The Author
Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018.
Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get.