How can I increase my HDL, the good cholesterol?
Q: I am 5 feet 11 inches tall with a weight between 74 kgs to 76 kgs. Earlier my Cholesterol and Triglycerides were high as a result of which I started regular cardio-vascular exercises like brisk walking, swimming etc at least 20 minutes a day. That after six months of exercise I have once again gone for my Lipid Profile and the result are as under: - Total Cholesterol: 171.00 mg %; HDL cholesterol: 28.00 mg %; LDL Cholesterol: 104.00 mg %; Triglycerides: 193.00 mg %; VLDL Cholesterol: 38.60 mg %; TC/HDL Cholesterol RATIO: 6.11; LDL/HDL Ratio: 3.7. Kindly guide me as to whether all these result are desirable or if there is some risk factor. Furthermore as per my knowledge as a layman I think HDL is a good fraction and from the report it appears as if its value is low so tell me how can this HDL be increased; what should I eat (sources of HDL from the vegetarian food) to increase this HDL? Kindly advise me keeping in view that I am a vegetarian.
A:Your present lipid profile clearly shows that you have a low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride level. The Cholesterol/HDLc level is high. The desirable levels are less than 4.5 to 5. The lower this ratio is the better it is. The combination of high triglyceride (more than 150 mgs) and low HDLc (less than 35 mgs) is seen frequently in South Asian population. It is often associated with insulin resistance (fasting blood sugar levels > 115 mgs), truncal obesity, high blood pressure and increased coagulablity of blood because of high levels of PAI-1 in blood. All this makes our population more prone to heart attacks. These facts are not being highlighted by me to scare you, but to help you out. Since this problem is a genetic problem it is very important not to acquire additional risk factors like smoking cigarettes, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, increased LDL cholesterol etc. Regular exercise for 30 minutes or more, eating heart healthy diet consisting of low fats and high fibre, etc is important. In addition, keeping total cholesterol, to levels less than 150 mgs and LDL cholesterol levels certainly below 100 mgs and preferably lower than 70 to 80 mgs helps. There is no particular diet that will increase HDL cholesterol significantly. Alcohol does make a modest increase but it is not recommended to start alcohol for this purpose (it has several bad effects too on other systems). Individuals with multiple risk factors are often recommended to take Niacin (a vitamin of b family) in high doses under supervision. It can increase HDL cholesterol, and decrease triglycerides. Lot of research is on to produce agents, which would increase HDL cholesterol substantially. Next few years should see this breakthrough becoming possible.