What are the risk factors and causes of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol puts one at risk for serious health issues including stroke or heart attack. It is vital to be aware of the potential risk factors and cause of having high cholesterol.

Diet

The liver produces cholesterol naturally but some is the outcome of foods eaten. Foods that are rich in saturated fat and trans fat can increase the level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol which is the “bad” type.

High cholesterol
Even if an individual regularly exercise and sticks with a healthy diet, he/she can have an elevated level of cholesterol if it is hereditary.

Most of the saturated fat being consumed comes from animal-based products such as cheese, full-fat milk, butter and other high-fat dairy products. Other sources include chicken and turkey with skin, red meat, palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter.

Weight and high cholesterol

Being overweight or obese increases the risk for having high cholesterol. The extra pounds can increase the level of LDL while lowering the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) level which is the “healthy” type.

Exercise

The risk for high cholesterol is higher if having a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise can help cut down excess weight to maintain a healthy body weight.

Family history and personal factors

Having high cholesterol generally runs in families. Even if an individual regularly exercise and sticks with a healthy diet, he/she can have an elevated level of cholesterol if it is hereditary.

Generally, all are at risk for high cholesterol as the age rises. Men face a higher risk than women until reaching the age of 55. At that age, the risk is equal for both men and women.

Current medical conditions

Certain conditions that increase the risk for high cholesterol include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Underactive thyroid gland

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