Written by Katelyn Schwanke (last updated September 5, 2008)
If you go see your physician, he may hand you a read out of your cholesterol levels and encourage you to raise your good cholesterol. Interpreting your cholesterol levels, even with the help of your doctor, can be confusing and make it difficult for you to follow the doctor's orders and raise your good cholesterol. A basic understanding of what cholesterol is can greatly benefit you.
Cholesterol is a type of lipid, or fat, that is found throughout your body. Cholesterol is necessary for the body to survive and for your cells to function properly. There are two major types of cholesterol found in your body. The one that helps you function properly is called a high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. HDL helps remove build-up of cholesterol on your arteries. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is "bad" cholesterol that adds cholesterol to your arteries.
With an appreciation of the two types of cholesterol, it is easier to distinguish between just lowering cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol. Despite the fact that lowering cholesterol is beneficial, it is more important that you do it in conjunction with raising good cholesterol. High good cholesterol levels will help fend off heart disease and other illnesses.
How do you raise good cholesterol levels? Your doctor may suggest medicinal options, or you may choose to lower it through simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Medicines available to you include Lipitor, antioxidants or niacin supplements. Although Lipitor requires a prescription, antioxidants and niacin do not. Antioxidants and niacin can be found in pill form as supplements on your local grocer's shelves.
Dietary changes may be supplemental or primary in your efforts to raise good cholesterol. As discussed above, antioxidants and niacin raise HDL levels; both antioxidants and niacin can be found in food sources. Niacin is found most commonly in breads and cereals. Antioxidants can be found in strawberries and even dark chocolate. Beyond dietary changes, you should consider other lifestyle changes that can help raise HDL levels. Smoking cessation, weight loss, and regular exercise will also help.
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