The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

November 22, 2007 Number 176

This issue:

Raising HDL Levels

Action to take

Take several steps to increase your HDL levels.


Your blood's HDLs (High Density Lipids) carry fatty acids to your liver and do the clean-up job of removing plaque from artery walls. Hopefully the HDLs do this faster than LDLs add plaque. HDLs also are antioxidants, i.e., they prevent excess oxidation that causes free radical tissue damage. The American Heart Association considers HDL levels below 40 for men and below 50 for women to be a heightened risk for cardiovascular disease. The ideal level is above 60 mg/dL (mircograms per deciliter).

What raises HDL levels?

  1. Exercising raises HDL about by 5 mg/dL.
  2. Each six pounds you lose rasises HDL by 1 mg/dL.
  3. One or two alcoholic drinks raises HDL 4 mg/dL.
  4. Fish oil (from eating fish or from supplements) lowers trglycerides which has that inverse relationship with HDL and raises HDL 2-3 mg/dL.
  5. Niacin (Vitamin B-3) helps (benefits vary with dosage, very high doses may cause liver problems).

  6. Other supplements that can help include chromium and policosanol.

Note that in moderate or high doses, niacin causes "flushing." It does this by dilating blood vessels and capillaries. This concentrates blood in your face and other skin surfaces and can make your face red, warm and very itchy. Flushing can be reduced by taking niacin on a full stomach and with water. Aspirin also reduces flushing. Flushing tends to decrease with continued use. Despite the discomfort, modest levels of flushing are healthy in that they indicate your body is getting blood to capillaries where it can remove toxins. Note that recent research has been finding that No Flush Niacin does not deliver the HDL benefit.

What lowers HDL?

  1. Smoking lowers HDL 5 mg/dL.
  2. High glycemic index foods (e.g., simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, pasta) helps converted into triglycerides which has an inverse relationship with HDL.
  3. Transfats increase triglyceride levels and decrease HDL.


High cholesterol is among the risk factors for heart disease, but is not the leading risk factor. The most prevalent risk factor is low HDL along with small LDL particles, which commonly occur together. In fact, of every 100 people with coronary heart disease, 60-70 will have low HDL and small LDL particles, but fewer than 30 will have high LDL. If this is the case, why do we not hear more about low HDL and small LDL particles? The answer is simple: because treating these is not as profitable for drug companies. But just wait—when a profitable drug becomes available to treat this more prevalent risk factor for heart disease, we can expect to hear about an “epidemic” that will justify billions of dollars in new drug expenditures.

~Life Extension Foundation Magazine


My husband and I both gained weight after we got married and so we went on a diet together. He lost weight, and I didn't. I had to feed him in his sleep, intravenously.

~Rita Rudner

I went on a diet. Had to go on two diets at the same time because one diet wasn't giving me enough food.

~Barry Marder

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