Low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow, while high density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver. Various factors within and beyond your control can contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.
Eating too much saturated fat can cause high cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats often come from animals and include beef, pork, veal, sausages, milk and eggs. Other sources of high cholesterol include some pies, butter, hard cheese, lard, margarine, cracker, chips, pastry, cakes, most biscuits and cream. Packaged foods containing coconut oil, palm oil or cocoa butter often have a high saturated fat content.
Avoiding food high in saturated fats and maintaining a balanced diet can help lower bad cholesterol. A varied diet with vegetables, fish, legumes, whole grains and fruits also helps lower bad cholesterol.
Overweight or obese people tend to have high triglycerides and lower HDL levels. According to Medical News Today, they also tend to have higher LDL levels compared to people with normal weight. Having a body mass index of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle may increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Exercising can improve cholesterol levels by boosting HDL and lowering triglycerides. Any aerobic exercise–from walking and running to swimming and cycling–counts. Exercising regularly will help expend enough energy to burn at least 800 to 1,200 calories per week.
Age and Gender
Starting at puberty, men have lower levels of HDL than women do. After you reach age 20, your cholesterol levels naturally begin to rise. In men, cholesterol levels generally level off after age 50. Women’s cholesterol levels stay low until about the age of 55 (or until menopause), at which time their cholesterol levels become similar or higher to that of men.
Never miss another annual checkup again. Having certain diseases, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, may cause high cholesterol. High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries. People with type 2 diabetes or existing heart disease may need to lower their cholesterol right away, so doctors usually prescribe medications with statins as quick fixes.
Loving your family is one thing, but you may not like not the bad genes that come along with it. High blood cholesterol can run in families, known as familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), which begins at birth and may result in a heart attack at an early age. In addition, if you have a brother, sister or parent with hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids), you are at a higher risk of having high cholesterol levels.
People with close family members who had a coronary heart disease or a stroke also have a greater risk of high blood cholesterol levels.
Smoking can lower your good cholesterol level. It damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits.