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What’s the Deal With Good Cholesterol?

 

When you hear the word “cholesterol,” you don’t usually think “good.” But, believe it or not there is a good type of cholesterol. It’s called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and it helps prevent plaque and cholesterol build-up in your arteries.

When good cholesterol is at the right level, it carries that bad cholesterol — the kind that can contribute to heart disease and heart attacks — to the liver to be worked out of your body. Doctors recommend that HDL levels be at 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or at least above 40 mg/dL.

How can I improve my good cholesterol levels?

Food plays an important role in your body’s cholesterol levels — good and bad. Foods high in saturated and trans fats are bad for your cholesterol. That includes foods like fried chicken, fries, donuts, chips or ice cream. The good news is that there are also foods you can eat to help boost and keep your HDL levels where they should be.

Adjust some of your favorite recipes or snacks to make them a little more heart healthy:

  • Use olive oil to sauté vegetables or drizzle over salads.
  • Add beans to your favorite soups or stews.
  • Choose whole-grain options over white breads or white rice.
  • Eat more fruits that are high in fiber, like prunes, apples and pears.
  • Fatty fish are also high in HDL. Add fish like salmon, albacore tuna or rainbow trout to your weekly menu.
  • Nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds and avocados are other great healthy food choices that can help maintain good cholesterol levels.

Establishing healthy eating habits isn’t the only way to improve good cholesterol levels and keep bad levels in check. Be sure your week includes at least 150 minutes of physical activity. That could include walking, hiking, swimming, biking or even yoga.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to keep good cholesterol where it needs to be is to get your cholesterol levels checked at least once a year. Your physician will order blood work to monitor your HDL and LDL (low density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol) levels and may even prescribe cholesterol-reducing medicine.

If you don’t have a primary care provider, call our free, 24-hour physician referral line at 770-214-CARE (2273) or click here to use Tanner's “Find a Doctor” tool.

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