Factors That Affect Cholesterol
Diet. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in fruits and vegetables can increase cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet, add servings of whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables from a full palette of colors.
Weight. Being overweight can increase your cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as increase HDL cholesterol.
Exercise. Studies have shown regular exercise can lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes on most days.
Age and Gender. Unfortunately, cholesterol levels rise as we get older. Gender can be a factor, too. Women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age, until after menopause, when women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
Diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes increases cholesterol levels. With improvements in control, cholesterol levels can fall.
Heredity. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes and how well you store it. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
Other causes. Certain medications such as some HIV drugs and medical conditions can cause high cholesterol.
Too much cholesterol may cause a thick hard deposit (plaque) to form on the artery walls, narrowing the space for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, this buildup causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart disease or a heart attack.
The Dietary Guidelines suggest we limit cholesterol in the diet. Some health professionals recommend eating no more than 300 mg/day of cholesterol.