How to Raise HDL
HDL can be raised by:
• Keeping triglycerides at a low level─Triglycerides modify HDL structure and hasten their elimination from the blood.Thus, keeping triglycerides low allows HDL to rise to healthier levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are crucial for this effect.
• Reduction or elimination of foods that reduce HDL─Hydrogenated fats ("trans" fats) should be eliminated, since they reduce HDL (as well as increasing LDL and blood pressure, and have been associated with cancer). Hydrogenated fats are found in many margarines and processed foods. Because low-fat diets reduce HDL (and raise triglycerides), I advocate a diet approach that involves the elimination of foods made with wheat or cornstarch, as well as reduction or elimination of junk foods. This can skyrocket HDL enormously over time.
• Red wine─Although all alcoholic beverages raise HDL, red wine confers additional benefits, such as reduction in blood sugar and blood pressure, provided no more than 2 glasses per day are consumed.
• Dark Chocolate─Preferably 70% cocoa or greater. We ask our patients to not exceed 40 grams, or approximately 2 inches square, per day.
• Green tea─Brewed only, never instant or pre-mixed bottles. Several cups per day are required for its full effect.
• Vitamin D─Restoration of vitamin D levels to normal can yield increases in HDL of 10, 20, even 30 mg/dl, though it may require up to a year for the full effect to show.
• Exercise─The magnitude of increase in HDL depends to a great degree on your starting level. People who begin from a sedentary lifestyle can expect 10 mg/dl increase or more; people who begin with mild-moderate activity can expect less.