How To Raise Your Good Cholesterol (HDL) To Prevent Heart Disease

I raised my good cholesterol more than 10 points with some simple and pleasurable dietary changes. I changed my daily breakfast to one of oatmeal with frozen blueberries and nuts. And I started drinking a special kind of hot chocolate, several cups a day, the way other people drink coffee or tea throughout the day. I credit these high flavanoid foods with raising my HDL from a high-risk 34 to a much safer 46 in one year.

When I got my blood test results last year and did some online searches to learn how to interpret them, I was alarmed by what I found out: My HDL of 34 put me at an elevated risk for heart attack even though I also have low LDL or “bad” cholesterol. My doctor said that raising HDL is very hard. Only 3 things raise HDL according to conventional medical wisdom: Alcohol (not recommended), increasing exercise and decreasing weight. Well, I don’t drink, I already exercise regularly and I’m not overweight (though 10 pounds less would be nice). Still, I tried this conventional trio. I started buying wine and having a glass every evening. I increased my walking and running distance and frequency and I lost the 10 pounds. But, I couldn’t sustain these. I didn’t like the nightly alcohol buzz. My exercise settled back to my former pattern and so did my weight.

But I went beyond my doctor’s advice and did extensive research online. I read article after article in medical journals and other resources. I found there were many studies showing certain foods will raise HDL. Most of these are foods high in a class of substances called “flavanoids.” I choose 3 that appealed to me and got into the habit of consuming them. Every morning, I have oatmeal, with either walnuts or pecans, and frozen blueberries. I get the walnuts and pecans at Trade Joe’s. They have the best prices, and if I get a stale bag, which happens from time to time, they are cheerful about replacing them. At home, I keep them in the freezer. For the blueberries, I get the organic kind, because otherwise blueberries can be high in pesticides.

I also start my day with a cup of hot chocolate made from powdered raw dark chocolate. I get the Navitas brand on Amazon. Did you know you can subscribe to favorite foods on Amazon and save 15%? It’s just like a magazine subscription, except you specify how much and how often the item or items get sent. Plus, you get free shipping and can cancel, suspend, increase or decrease your subsciption at any time with no penalty and no loss of discount. my Navitas subscription keeps me supplied. So that I don’t gain weight from drinking 4 or 5 cups of hot chocolate per day, I sweeten it with a zero-calorie herbal sweetener — stevia — instead of sugar and the liquid part of the hot chocolate recipe is just plain water. The stevia I like is NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia or Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme Flavored Liquid Stevia (click here). We once got a different brand and it was gross, with a heavy coconut taste even though there was nothing about coconut on the label.

My hot chocolate recipe is a heaping tablespoon of chocolate powder, 5 to 10 drops of stevia (depending on my mood) and hot water to fill the mug. Stir, and drink. Don’t substitute Dutch chocolate or other processed chocolate. It won’t be as effective.

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