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Higher levels of HDL could mean lower chances of heart disease

There is a large body of research showing that reducing the intake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), sometimes referred to as bad cholesterol, can reduce the chances of developing heart disease. However, results of a new study show that increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, can be good for the heart as well, SeniorJournal.com reports.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Cardiology, looked at the medical records of more than 30,000 patients with diabetes. The team of scientists found that the subjects who showed lower levels of HDL were more prone to suffering from heart attacks and strokes.

"Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that raising HDL levels may be an important strategy for reducing heart attack risk," lead author Gregory Nichols told the website.

While the study only looked at diabetic patients, keeping your HDL at a good level is never a bad idea. Luckily, there are a number of ways that you can do so, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of the best ways to maintain high HDL levels are to make lifestyle changes. For example, by not smoking, you can increase your level of HDL by as much as 10 percent. Additionally, getting more exercise can increase levels by about 5 percent.

But it isn't just how you live that has an impact on your good cholesterol levels - it's also what you eat. According to the clinic, you should choose healthier fats in foods such as fish, nuts and olive, peanut and canola oils. Furthermore, as a general rule, saturated fats should account for no more than 7 percent of your daily caloric intake.

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