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HDL Cholesterol Levels


Normal HDL cholesterol levels are between 40-60 mg/dL (1.03-1.55 mmol/L). A HDL cholesterol reading higher than this actually better. High HDL levels decreases the risk of heart disease.

What is HDL Cholesterol? 

There are two types of cholesterol you need to concern yourself with, HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are basically opposites. HDL cholesterol are made of mostly protein, and conversely, LDL cholesterol are made up of mostly fat. HDL cholesterol clears the cells and tissues of cholesterol; while LDL cholesterol deposits cholesterol into the cells and tissues.

It's for these reasons why HDL is labeled as the good cholesterol and LDL the bad cholesterol.

Another possible benefit of HDL is that it contains antioxidant molecules that may prevent LDL from altering into lipoproteins that is even more likely to cause heart disease.

HDL picks up and transports bad cholesterol from the cells and tissues to the liver, and tells the liver (via attaching proteins to the bad cholesterol) to extract the fat from the bad cholesterol. Once the bad cholesterol is broken down, it can then be recycled or removed from the body.

Limitations of HDL Cholesterol

The amount of bad cholesterol that can be cleared from the artery walls is dependent how much HDL cholesterol there to clear them out. When there's too much bad cholesterol for the HDL to clean up, the excess will likely stick itself to the artery walls and turn into plaque. As this process continues over a period of decades, this will eventually lead to heart disease.

As previously mentioned, a way to reduce the amount of plaque build-up is to increase your HDL cholesterol levels. This is what we're going to look into next.

How To Increase Your HDL Cholesterol Levels

Here are some ways you can increase your HDL cholesterol levels:
  • aerobic exercise (exercise 3 to 5 times a week can boost your HDL by 5-10%);
  • lose weight (every 7 lbs lost can increase your HDL levels by 1 mg/dL);
  • quit smoking (can boost your HDL by as much as 15-20% boost); and
  • consume more monounsaturated fats (peanut butter, avocado oil, olive oil, & canola oil).

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