What Causes High Cholesterol Besides Diet?
Wondering what causes high cholesterol? Well, you are not alone. Millions of people who have committed to dietary changes are still left with high cholesterol levels. Even when heart healthy fare like oatmeal and fish are added and high cholesterol foods to avoid like those laden with saturated fats are omitted, the numbers remain elevated in some individuals. So what causes high cholesterol besides diet? And, is diet still important if there are other factors contributing to your high cholesterol? The answers may surprise you.
For middle aged and older women, one surprising cause of elevated cholesterol may be the change of life. New studies point to an alarming trend related to menopause as a major precursor for elevated cholesterol numbers. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism of action by which this occurs is still largely unknown, but when combined with the fact that a reduction in estrogen levels can reduce the health and flexibility of blood vessels, the risk of heart disease can dramatically increase in post menopausal women.
But, menopause is not an answer to what causes high cholesterol in men aside from diet. So if menopause is not an answer, the waistline might be. Health.com indicates that being overweight or obese can raise bad cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce good cholesterol. And, this may be where diet still plays a role in cholesterol levels. Even when high cholesterol foods are avoided, still choosing those that contribute to weight can have an adverse effect on cholesterol. High cholesterol foods are not the only ones that contribute to weight gain and some, like those that are chock full of refined sugars, can negatively impact triglyceride levels on a massive scale. So, avoiding high cholesterol foods may only be one piece to the puzzle, as weight gain from other edibles can still have an impact on blood fat levels.
What causes high cholesterol may also have to do with how active you are. Regardless of whether you are big or small, overweight or average, how much you exercise can impact the levels of LDL, HDL and triglycerides in your blood. Couch potatoes beware, staying sedentary can increase your risk of heart disease later in life, and adding in physical activity can help to stave off rises in bad cholesterol. And, lifestyle plays another important role in what causes high cholesterol for smokers who not only have a dramatically increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory related illnesses, but also lower than desirable levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which can affect their risk of heart disease.
You may also be able to blame your family for high cholesterol. Unfortunately, this is one area that you can do little about. If your parents or grandparents battled with their cholesterol levels, you may too. This genetic predisposition for an increased risk of heart disease when combined with other factors like a lack of exercise and a poor diet can dramatically impact the risk of coronary illness later in life and those with a family history of high cholesterol need to be even more cognizant of taking steps to ensure that they are being proactive about their heart health.
Age, gender and overall health also play a role in what causes high cholesterol, and unfortunately there may not be much you can do about any of these factors. Cholesterol rises naturally with age, and how much differs somewhat between men and women. Additionally, there are some health conditions like diabetes and diseases of the thyroid that may negatively impact cholesterol levels as well.
LDL cholesterol is bad because as it makes its way through the blood vessels, it has a tendency to attach itself to plaques and can lead to blockages. When these blockages become serious, they can prevent the flow of blood to the heart and lead to a heart attack. Controlling LDL cholesterol levels is important to minimize the long term risk of heart disease and heart attacks. However, controlling these levels is much easier when what causes high cholesterol in the first place has been determined. Dietary considerations are incredibly important even if your high cholesterol is caused from genetics or a less then svelte waistline. However, sometimes they are not enough to control LDL levels. Quitting smoking, exercising more and losing weight are all just as important to adding in a bowl of oatmeal every morning when it comes to how to lower LDL cholesterol levels, and making these changes can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease in the long term.