A lot of attention is paid to lowering cholesterol, but that's only half the story. Some cholesterol you actually want more of!
Gina Geis, RN with the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center says HDL cholesterol are the "good guys" while LDL are the "bad guys." She says the HDLs will lower the LDL by going in and sweeping it out of the arteries and out of the body, thereby lowering your risk for heart disease.
Increasing your HDL "boils down to lifestyle changes," Geis says. She says a healthy diet and regular exercise are important.
Studies show including certain foods in your diet can give you even more of a boost. Soy is one of them, though studies also show you need to be patient - it takes at least three months to have an impact.
Other HDL boosters include niacin - or vitamin B3 - found in proteins like chicken, fish and peanuts, and omega 3s, found in fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon and plants like flaxseed.
Some studies also point to orange juice as being good for HDL, but Geis warns to use caution because it can also contain a lot of sugar, and food and drink that raises your blood sugar level, like soda pop, can lower HDL and raise LDL.
While there are medications to lower LDL, none will raise HDL, so you need to do it on your own with a healthy lifestyle. You should get a cholesterol test every year. Geis says most people should strive for an LDL under 100 and an HDL over 40 for men, over 50 for women.