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Carbohydrates and HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is good because it carries extra cholesterol from the blood stream to the liver where it is broken down before it can form plaques in arteries. Doctors used to think that taking in any type of carbohydrates would lower blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol. They made no distinction between sugar and flour products that are absorbed rapidly, and unrefined carbohydrates such as beans, whole grains, vegetables and even fruits, that are absorbed more slowly.

Then an article in Lancet (March 27, 1999) showed that foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, such as bakery products, pastas, potatoes and sugary desserts, are the ones that lower blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol. Now we know that carbohydrates in foods such as whole grains and beans that cause a low rise in blood sugar do not lower blood levels of HDL and may even raise them, helping to prevent heart attacks. You lower your blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol by eating bakery products, sugary foods, pastas, roots such a potatoes and refined carbohydrates such as corn flakes. You can raise blood levels of the good HDL by eating whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.

Other ways to increase your good HDL cholesterol include:

• Burn at least 1200 calories with exercise per week.

• Lose excess weight. For every pound of fat lost, expect a one percent rise in HDL.

• Exercise before you eat.

• If you are a smoker, quit smoking.

Checked 4/22/15

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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