7 Causes of High Cholesterol

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Do you have high cholesterol?

You’re not alone—so do about 100 million other Americans. High cholesterol comes from a variety of sources, including your family history and what you eat. Here is a visual journey through the most common causes.

Your diet

Eating too much saturated fat (like the kind found in this classic breakfast) can cause high cholesterol. You will find this unhealthy fat in foods that come from animals. Beef, pork, veal, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese contain saturated fat. Packaged foods that contain coconut oil, palm oil, or cocoa butter may have a lot of saturated fat. You will also find saturated fat in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and most cookies, crackers, chips, and other snacks.

Your weight

Your beer belly isn’t just bad for your social life. Being overweight may increase triglycerides and decrease HDL, or good cholesterol. Losing that gut can go a long way toward improving your beach bod, too.

Your activity level

Hey, get off that couch and get moving. Lack of physical activity may increase LDL, or bad cholesterol, and decrease HDL, or good cholesterol.

Your age and gender

After you reach age 20, your cholesterol levels naturally begin to rise. In men, cholesterol levels generally level off after age 50. In women, cholesterol levels stay fairly low until menopause, after which they rise to about the same level as in men.

Your overall health

Don’t skip your annual physical, and be sure to have your doc explain your heart disease risk. Having certain diseases, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, may cause high cholesterol.

Your family history

Aren’t they cute? But they can be dangerous, even when they’re not gossiping about each other. If family members have high cholesterol, you may also.

Cigarette smoking

Come on, you already know this one. Smoking can lower your good cholesterol. And it can kill you.

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