High cholesterol, specifically high LDL levels, has been directly linked to an increased chance of heart disease; the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. But what is really to blame is the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. The optimal LDL and HDL ratio is 4:1 (or less), meaning you have 4 parts LDL to every one part HDL cholesterol. The lower the ratio between the two, the better off you are.
If you work to raise your HDL naturally, your overall ratio will improve, which puts you at less of a risk of developing heart disease. Many doctors either don’t know this for some reason (which is amazing/baffling to me), or would just rather prescribe a drug that has little to no effect on the real danger of the situation; the imbalance between the HDL and LDL levels.
You can most effectively lower your chances of heart disease, not by lowering your overall numbers, but instead by increasing the amount of HDL cholesterol you have (compared to your LDL levels). You can raise HDL naturally without the use of medications, which have not only been found to have little effect on lowering your chances of heart disease, but also cause liver damage. So how do you raise HDL levels without drugs?
How to Raise HDL Cholesterol Naturally:
Foods to Increase HDL Cholesterol
Foods to Eat: (foods high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats)
• Fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna (high poly-unsaturated fat; specifically Omega-3)
• Oils: olive, canola, safflower oil, sunflower oil (high mono- and poly- unsaturated fat)
• Nuts and Seeds: walnuts, almonds, sunflower, cashew, peanut butter (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats; some saturated fats as well)
Foods to Lower LDL Cholesterol
Foods to Avoid: (foods with high saturated fat and or trans fatty acids)
• Fatty Meats (high saturated fat and cholesterol)
• Full Fat Dairy: cheese, whole milk, butter, cream (high saturated fats and cholesterol)
• Hydrogenated Oils: margarine and shortening (high trans fatty acids and saturated fat)
• Processed Meat: sausage, lunchmeats (high saturated fats and cholesterol)
• Processed Baked Goods: cakes, cookies, pastries (high saturated fats and often high trans fats)
• Solid Fats and Oils: coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter (high saturated fat)
Foods that Lower LDL Cholesterol: (foods that remove cholesterol from the system)
• Whole Grain Bread
• Whole Wheat Cereal, Pasta or Bread
• Fruits and Vegetables
• Beans, Lentils, Peas
Other natural ways to raise HDL levels naturally
Regular cardiovascular activity has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol levels as well as lower LDL levels. Regular weight training will increase HDL levels as well, but has less of an effect on lowering LDL. The most drastic changes in levels happen in conjunction with regular exercise and healthy, LDL cholesterol lowering/HDL boosting diets. The combo leads to a change that is higher than just diet or exercise alone.
Calorie Restriction and Weight Loss
Research on calorie restriction has found that moderately restricting ones energy intake by 20% not only decreases your bodyweight, body fat and blood pressure, but also increases HDL levels in the blood.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Probably the most controversial, some research has found that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce your chances of heart disease by increasing your HDL cholesterol levels and prevent blood clots from forming. This seems to be most apparent in people over 50 years of age that already have high LDL numbers.
Moderate alcohol consumption for men is 1 to 2 drinks per day, whereas women should drink even less; closer to .5 to 1.5 drinks per day. Everything in moderation; three or more drinks per day is actually associated with increasing your chances of heart disease.