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Ask the Expert Archive

Can fruits and vegetables raise HDL cholesterol and if so, how do they do that?

Exercise, losing excess weight, eating less total fat and avoiding smoking all help maintain or raise HDL-cholesterol.  Fruits and vegetables help with losing weight (which then helps maintain or raise HDL-cholesterol) because they are low in calories and fat.  Lowering LDL-cholesterol is much easier, and it’s the ratio between HDL and LDL that is important, so if you’re interested in raising HDL, you also should be interested in lowering LDL. 
Ways to lower LDL-cholesterol are reducing dietary saturated fat (found in animal foods like red meats, bacon, cheese, butter, etc.) and cholesterol (only found in animal foods.) Replace the saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (don’t add fat, simply replace the fat … fats are listed on the nutrition panel of the food label.)  Increasing dietary fiber also helps reduce LDL-cholesterol.  Fruits and vegetables are therefore helpful in reducing LDL-cholesterol because they do not contain saturated fat or cholesterol and they do contain fiber.  

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  1. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about on the web. More people need to read this post and understand this. I’m amazed that this website is not more popualar.

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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