What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a threat to many people of all ages around the world, and in the U.S. especially. More people die from cardiovascular disease every year than from any other cause, so it's essential that you do what you can to avoid heart problems. Keeping high cholesterol away is important, and knowing what can cause your high cholesterol is essential if you want to stay healthy.

Causes of High Cholesterol: Factors Out of Your Control

Age -- Many people have high cholesterol as a result of their age. The risk of developing high cholesterol increases once men pass the age of 45 or women pass the age of 55. Even those that have had healthy hearts their entire lives may find that their cholesterol levels get out of control once they pass these age markers.

Race --Did you know that African Americans are more likely to develop high cholesterol than the average Caucasian? If you have high cholesterol, it may be the result of your race.

Gender -- Men usually have higher cholesterol than women before the age of 50 or 55, but women that have gone through menopause will actually have higher cholesterol levels than men. Menopause can cause a drastic increase in cholesterol levels.

Family History -- Those that have a history of cardiac disease are often more likely to develop high cholesterol, as they are genetically predisposed to having higher cholesterol levels. If anyone in your family has had high cholesterol or problems with their heart at a young age (younger than 55), it may mean that you are at a great risk of developing heart problems yourself.

Causes of High Cholesterol: Factors You Can Control

Smoking -- Smoking will suppress your body's production of HDL cholesterol, which will allow the bad LDL cholesterol to accumulate unchecked. Smoking will also make your arterial walls more conducive to buildups of cholesterol, and will weaken them the point that they are more likely to crack when the plaque builds up.

Diet -- If you eat a lot of food that is rich in saturated and trans fats, you will find that your cholesterol levels will rise drastically. These fats cause your body to produce more cholesterol, and you will increase your total cholesterol levels. Seeing as your body already produces cholesterol naturally, you don't need to add more via your diet.

Weight -- If you weigh more than you should, you are increasing your risk of high cholesterol. The extra weight on your body is stored fat, which is a form of cholesterol called triglycerides. High triglyceride levels means that your levels of good cholesterol are too low, which stops the good cholesterol from eliminating the bad cholesterol that can cause heart problems. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight can do wonders for your cholesterol levels.

Activity -- Those that lead sedentary lifestyles always run a higher risk of health problems, and cholesterol is just one of the many problems that can set in if you don't do exercise. Exercise will increase the production of the good HDL cholesterol in your body, and increasing your HDL cholesterol just 3% can lower your bad cholesterol by as much as 8%. Doing exercise is the key to keeping cholesterol levels low, as burning fat means that you are lowering the levels of triglycerides in your body.

Now you know what causes high cholesterol, you can take steps to lower your cholesterol levels by eating foods that lower cholesterol. It's in your best interest to get your high cholesterol under control as soon as possible!

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