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What Causes High Cholesterol?

Learn Which Risk Factors You Can Control


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  • Like diabetes, high cholesterol can be caused and controlled by a number of factors, some of which are within our control and others which aren't. I have a family history of both, but was able to get my cholesterol down to normal by maintaining a healthy weight long term, regularly exercising and keeping my dietary cholesterol moderate. Carb cutting wasn't necessary. However, when I developed gestational diabetes like most of the other women in my family, I had to take a closer look at my carbohydrate intake. To keep my levels under control, I essentially couldn't eat carbs in any form first thing in the morning or my blood sugar would skyrocket. Later in the day, my body processed them fine as long as I kept them under about 60 grams at meals and about 30 for snacks, so I was by no means following a low carb diet--carb controlled, yes. It's not recommended that pregnant women consume fewer than 180 carbs per day, so I just had to be extra careful about when those carbs were consumed. Other women I know with GD had different tolerance levels and needed to plan their days' meals differently.

    In the end, I think we just need to work with our doctors to find what works for us. Monitor, tweak, monitor. - 9/16/2016 9:13:05 AM
  • I agree please update this piece and remove the pseudoscience. Thanks, woubbie for your clarifying comment about triglycerides, I will share the info with my h who was hastily given statins this past spring, his panel was done within a few months of a major surgery. - 8/21/2016 9:48:04 PM
  • Maybe this article information works for some people? My personal experience says I have to agree with the low carb comments. Just had my blood work done last week and posted it on my last blog. My LDL was so low it was untraceable. My history? Dad had high numbers and died from heart disease. Siblings all have high blood pressure. Mom has terrible high blood pressure and diabetes. My husband (who used to take high blood pressure meds) just came from giving blood at the red cross and his blood pressure was 120/89. We eat (and have for years) meats fried in butter, eggs, cream, nuts, berries, lower carb veggies and salads. Skipping bread, grains, potatoes and fruits is worth gaining better health. - 8/21/2016 4:45:00 PM
  • I agree with AzureSky - this is one of many articles which needs to be updated with more current information.

    And let me point out that triglyceride levels are generally tied most closely with heart disease and stroke risk and there is ONLY ONE THING THAT MAKES TRIGLYCERIDES: CARBOHYDRATE. They are so reliable a marker that when doctors put patients on a low carbohydrate plan they use the tri number to judge the patient's compliance. - 8/21/2016 2:36:25 PM
    It's time to update this article with more recent studies. Several years ago, I went on a low-carb diet, after eating the "normal" American diet of higher carbs.

    Surprise, surprise! - My cholesterol AND my triglycerides went down to normal ranges. After going back to my higher carb (whole grains, not cakes and cookies), both of those levels went back to above normal.

    Since then, I've cut out processed carbs - I still eat oatmeal, veggies and fruit, and occasionally brown rice, but mostly protein. My cholesterol and triglycerides are back in the normal range again. - 8/21/2016 2:29:06 PM
  • I should have said that my cholesterol went higher after menopause and I know now it is the hormone issue. Have not tried the substitute hormone therapy but it remains a possible alternative. - 5/3/2016 10:52:36 AM
  • I had borderline high cholesterol until I hit menopause . My Dr,. allowed me to try the 8 week Chiolesterol Cure muffins regimen suggested by Robert Kowalski. Just eating the regimen of oat bran/day lowered me significantly to ok levels. I also am coming to a newer understanding of cholesterol intake in my diet - and do not see all I eat as bad -- the Spark nutrition tracker allows me to track the amount of my cholesterol intake/day and fats and this has helped me to be conscious of being careful. I also appreciate the way I can track this on recipes. I no longer worry if a recipe uses --say - butter or eggs - because if it is only a small amount/serving then I can use it reasonably. I've also learned how to use egg substitute and egg whites and things like that to make all this easier to deal with. - 5/3/2016 10:50:55 AM
  • I'm still trying to figure this one out..... after 20 years of being vegetarian/vegan, eating 'healthy', and high exercise levels (racquetball, etc), my Dr had to put me on Rx for high (bad) cholesterol levels.

    Ten years later, and 5 years into being a carnivore, including eggs and pork, and lower exercise levels, my Dr took me off the Rx because my cholesterol levels had dropped to normal.

    I'll be very interested what tests results have to say this year when I go in for blood work.

    - 1/16/2016 2:24:53 PM
  • There is no question genetics play a role in cholesterol. My mom is tiny as can be, eats only healthy foods and appropriate portions yet her cholesterol is off the charts. Her good cholesterol is particularly high so the doctors just monitor it. She doesn't exercise a lot but she has been a nurse for years which inherently keeps people moving.

    I control mine with Simvistatin. I also have hypothyroidism which increases my predisposition to high cholesterol. Eating a healthy diet, exercising and medication are my best controls. Eggs and the like don't directly impact my or my moms cholesterol levels.

    It all boils down to monitoring, eating right and exercise but sometimes you can't beat the genetics without meds. - 11/20/2015 6:02:14 PM
  • I agree with WAPFROCKS, and having read "The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease" and feel it's required reading for everyone in the field of health and nutrition. The authors' arguments are staggering! - 11/17/2015 9:51:56 AM

    science has now determined that Saturated Fat DOES NOT contribute to high cholesterol. The science was skewed to show a correlation that did not in fact exist. The recommendation now is to eat more "bad fat" food and leave the low fat on the shelf. ie full fat yogurt vs the 0 fat varieties. - 11/17/2015 7:31:36 AM
  • Outdated information, Spark! - 9/17/2015 10:40:26 AM
  • Even the Egg Council agrees that a certain percentage of the population (25%) IS affected by dietary cholesterol and should limit their intake. I'm one of them and so was my Dad. I can't control what my body makes on its own. That's genetic, but I sure don't have to add to it. Those who make pronouncements like "don't worry about dietary cholesterol" are as misleading as those who used to tell us to avoid it entirely. Figure out how YOUR body works. - 9/9/2015 6:58:46 AM
    I had slightly high cholesterol but even changing my diet didn’t make a lot of difference.
    My doctor told me that if I couldn’t get it down in a month I would have to take statins. I was dreading that as my brother is on them and gets terrible pain.
    Since I started taking the capsules my cholesterol has gone back to normal again. I’m so relieved.

    I ordered them from - 4/15/2015 10:30:19 AM
  • Seriously, this article needs to be updated. Current studies show diet has little to nothing to do with cholesterol levels. Please Sparkpeople quit with the dietary cholesterol, fat, etc. connection. It looks like you are pandering to monetary interests. - 3/24/2015 8:04:58 AM

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