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Bad cholesterol is bad. Without getting too much into the science of it all, low-density lipoprotein (LDL – “bad cholesterol”) can contribute to plaque and build-up in your arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through them. This increases risk of heart attack or stroke. But the good news is that you’ve got a certain level of control over the LDL in your body – as well as the HDL, or good cholesterol. If good cholesterol is what you want (Uh… yes please!), read on for some tips on increasing this important heart-protecting cholesterol.

1. Stop blowing smoke. Smoking cigarettes is bad for you and doing so will hurt more than just your lungs. Smoking lowers your HDL and increases the likelihood of blood clotting. So get help to stop smoking, and give your HDL a fighting chance!

2. Exercise the demons! Physical activity has been shown to increase your HDL cholesterol in a number of studies. So get in your daily exercise – every little bit counts – to get an extra edge in the fight against LDL.

3. Unsaturate your diet. Keep a close eye on the amount of saturated fat that you are consuming day to day. Trans fats also raise LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL. Many margarines and things containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contain these bad fats, so reading labels may save your heart some trouble.

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4. Fabulous Fiber. Soluble fiber like that found in oats, beans, and many citrus fruits has been shown to increase HDL and lower LDL. Make fiber a staple in your daily meal planning and you will be doing your heart health a favor!

5. Conscientious Cholesterol Cookin’. Put some effort into lowering the amount of bad cholesterol you’re eating by looking into some low-cholesterol cookbooks. The American Heart Association publishes a low-fat and low-cholesterol cookbook which stays current by releasing editions incorporating up-to-date research.

When it comes to cholesterol and heart health, you’ve got to know it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Keep these hints in mind and it’ll be the cholesterol that’s worried about you!

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