Cholesterol has a light side and a dark side.

The light side of cholesterol is HDL, or high density lipoproteins. When this good cholesterol decreases, it can be responsible for the spike in bad cholesterol. It’s important to know how to increase good cholesterol to counterbalance excess bad cholesterol in your body.

HDL cholesterol is important for removing bad cholesterol from the bloodstream, and returns it to the liver to be broken down. Ultimately, higher levels of HDL help lower the risk of heart disease.

Because of this fact, it’s just as important to increase HDL cholesterol levels as it is to lower bad cholesterol levels.

How to Increase your HDL Levels:

1) Quit Smoking

Smoking makes it easier for LDL to build up and become immune to HDL’s attempts to clean it out of the blood system.

Giving up tobacco altogether helps give HDL a fighting chance to sweep the bad cholesterol out of your bloodstream.

2) Alcohol In Moderation

Try keeping alcohol intake to one drink per day, and you might see a rise in your HDL levels. However, stay away from sugary drinks and be sure not to go over your 2-drink limit.

3) Exercise More

30 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week has been shown to increase HDl levels.

4) Eat Colorful Veggies

But particularly purple ones. Anthocyanins that give vegetables their purple color (grapes, cabbage, onions, cherries, beets, eggplant) could help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL

4) Lose Weight

For every 6 pounds you lose, you may increase your HDL by 1 mg/dL. Pay special attention to weight loss if you tend to store excess fat in your abdominal ares, which could mean there is visceral fat, or fat surrounding your organs in addition tot he fat under your skin.

5) Be Picky About Fat

Foods containing saturated and trans fats will raise LDL cholesterols. However, other fats should be a staple in your diet. Olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil have all been found to raise HDL levels. These fats are also found in fish, nuts, and other omega-3 containing foods.

6) Try Superfoods

Be mindful of whole grains like oatmeal and whole wheat, walnuts and almonds for healthy fats,and omega-3s found in fatty fish and flaxseed.

Monosaturated fats in super foods such as olive oil, avocados, canola oil, and peanut are often responsible for helping to increase HDL, as well as soluble fiber found in fruits, veggies, and legumes.

A healthy diet will not only raise your body’s HDL levels, it will also lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, giving you the best of both worlds.