Many people will immediately think of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke when they come across the word “cholesterol”. No one can really blame them for it’s a word that tends to show up whenever cardiovascular diseases are being talked about.
However, there’s bad cholesterol and there’s also good cholesterol. Let us momentarily veer away from the bad kind and put the spotlight on the good one. Knowing what good cholesterol is and how you can increase its level in your blood can actually help you obtain optimum cardiovascular health!
What is the Role of Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is important in the maintenance of the structure of your cells. It’s also something that helps in the production of estrogen, testosterone and other hormones — chemicals the body produces that coordinate various complex processes within you. Cholesterol is also essential in the absorption of certain nutrients.
Where Does Cholesterol Come From?
Cholesterol is naturally produced by your body, primarily in the liver. You can also get cholesterol from your diet, particularly when you consume meat, liver, eggs yolks, whole meat and other food products high in saturated fat.
When Does Cholesterol Become Bad for You?
In normal amounts, cholesterol is necessary for the body’s proper functioning and your overall health. Various problems, in particular those that involve the cardiovascular system, start to show up when there’s excessive amounts of cholesterol in your blood. Too much cholesterol can cause the arteries to get clogged up, and from this all sorts of unfavorable conditions may arise — heart palpitations, shortness of breath, angina, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Why is Good Cholesterol Dubbed as Good?
Good cholesterol is good primarily because it helps in carrying bad cholesterol back to the liver, from which it may be eliminated naturally. The more good cholesterol you have, the better the removal of the bad kind becomes.
In the medical world, good cholesterol is also referred to as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. On the other hand, the bad kind is known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
How Can You Increase Good Cholesterol?
Luckily, there are a handful of ways to get your good cholesterol level up to keep in check the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.
First, there’s doing aerobic exercise. Experts recommend for you to get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise not less than 5 times a day. Because studies have shown that the duration is more important than the intensity, it’s a good idea for you to focus on getting not less than 20 minutes of exercise rather than opt for an intense and quick routine. Some examples of good aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling and dancing.
Second, you may increase your levels of good cholesterol by maintaining an ideal weight. Studies have shown that obesity is linked to having low HDL cholesterol levels. By regularly exercising and minding what you eat, you can shed off those excess pounds and naturally increase your good cholesterol levels.
Third, there’s the consumption of foods that help elevate good cholesterol. If there are foods that are packed with bad cholesterol, there are also many of them that supply your body good cholesterol-boosting nutrients. By including these foods in your everyday diet, you can attain success in attempting to naturally lower bad cholesterol!
What are the Best Foods for Lowering Bad Cholesterol?
Generally speaking, opting for a diet that consists of a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as low-fat foods is a great way to increase your good cholesterol levels and decrease your bad cholesterol levels. The following are some of the things you should have plenty for as they help naturally raise your good cholesterol:
- Oily fish – The likes of salmon, mackerel, tuna and halibut are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, good types of fat that help increase your good cholesterol levels.
- Avocados – Good fats in avocados are known to increase the levels of good cholesterol which helps sweep bad cholesterol out of the arteries.
- Oats – Packed with fiber, the regular consumption of oats helps in flushing out bad cholesterol in food sources before it gets absorbed by the body.
- Blueberries – Antioxidants in these super fruits are known to ward off the oxidation of bad cholesterol, thus keeping new ones from getting into the arteries.
- Olive oil – Containing good fats as well as antioxidants, olive oil can help in lowering bad cholesterol effectively.
- Almonds – Compounds found in the skins of almonds help prevent bad cholesterol from being oxidized, thus keeping it from wreaking havoc to the arteries and overall cardiovascular health.
- Beans – Excellent sources of proteins, beans also help in lowering your bad cholesterol. Studies have shown that the levels of bad cholesterol in participants who added beans to their low-fat diet fell nearly twice.