Monday, June 8, 2009

Concerned About Your Cholesterol? 10 Ways to Lower LDL and Raise HDL

“Your doctor tells you that your level of LDL—the "bad" type of cholesterol—is too high, and, in a double whammy, he says that your level of HDL—the "good" cholesterol—is too low. So, you wonder, is there anything you can do to decrease the bad while increasing the good? There are steps you can take to accomplish this. It's much easier to push LDL down than to push HDL up, but it's well worth the effort to strive to do both. A November study published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal found that increasing HDL levels in patients who are also aggressively lowering their LDL levels can reduce cardiovascular risk. Depending on your cholesterol levels, successfully reaching your target levels will probably take a combination of medication and lifestyle and dietary changes. Among the changes you'll have to make: Stop smoking, work out, lose weight, and eat well, the PMJ study suggests. 6. Lose weight . This can lower LDL, though levels will go back up unless you make lasting dietary changes, Eckel says. Aim to lose 10 percent or more of your body weight. Keep in mind that while you're losing weight, your HDL levels may fall, Eckel warns. But as you maintain your new body weight, your HDL will increase as long as you've lost at least 10 percent of your body weight. Try U.S. News's 10-week workout routine to help you get started, and avoid these 7 mistaken beliefs that can prevent weight loss. Exercise itself can raise HDL, although usually not by a meaningful amount. ‘For sedentary people with low HDL cholesterol and heart disease, even a little bit of exercise can raise it—but not by a lot,’ Eckel says. ‘For the average Susan or Joe, moderate aerobic activity needs to be accompanied by a change in body composition—less fat—to increase HDL.’ There are a few caveats: Women who have abnormal menstrual periods have minimal increases in HDL, and too much resistance training may actually lower HDL cholesterol if not accompanied by some aerobic training.”

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