HDL or good cholesterol, can help rid your body of excess LDL, or bad cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also help prevent heart disease and other health issues. Exercise, smoking cessation and weight loss will all help you raise your good cholesterol, especially when combined with dietary changes.
Unsaturated vegetable fats are the best option for healthy cholesterol, as they help you increase your HDL levels while lowering your bad cholesterol.
Eat more foods high in niacin, including dairy, lean meats, eggs, nuts and enriched breads. If you take a multivitamin, make sure it contains niacin as part of the list of vitamins.
Switch to unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil, flaxseed and avocado for all your cooking and flavoring. At the same time, decrease the amount of saturated fats you eat to decrease the amount of cholesterol you ingest.
Reduce the amount of simple carbs you eat. Avoid sugary cereals and white breads and instead eat more whole grains and sugar-free cereals. Eat the darker version of a food when possible, such as brown rice instead of white and bran instead of cornflakes.
Add nuts, full of unsaturated fat, to recipes or snacks. Macademia nuts, walnuts and pecans can be added to pasta and rice dishes, sprinkled on salads and cereal or mixed with oats and dry fruits to make a homemade energy bar. You can also eat them as a snack throughout the day.
Reduce the amount of calories you eat. Losing even a few pounds can increase your HDL cholesterol. Avoid extreme diets and instead make better food choices, switching to low-fat options when possible and avoiding high-sugar, highly processed foods.
Tips and Warnings
The Mayo Clinic recommends a good cholesterol level of 60 mg/dL or more as the ideal number for both men and women. This refers to the milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood: mg/dl. Levels lower than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women increase the risk of heart attack. You can find out your current numbers by asking your doctor for a blood test.