Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes cholesterol to rise?"
I am a 32 year old woman and I'm starting to think my rising cholesterol has more to do with the food I'm not eating than the food that I am. Is this possible? Not enough veggies?
Cholesterol levels are very complicated and rise and fall because of multiple factors. In addition, there is more than one type of cholesterol (the good and the bad cholesterol) which complicates matters even more. I will try to explain some of the basics. Doctors want the good cholesterol (HDL) to go up and the bad cholesterol (LDL) to go down. Exactly where each of these levels should be depends on the patient's other health problems and age. In a young women like you, most doctors would be okay with an LDL level between 130 and 160. LDL levels are effected by both diet, genetics, and to a certain extent exercise. If your LDL is rising, the only two of those factors you can control is the diet and exercise. Eating more veggies and less meat, along with more aerobic exercise will lower your LDL and raise your HDL (which is good!). However, in some people, the genetic factor is too strong and medication needs to be added in order for the LDL and HDL to fall and rise to healthy levels. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss where you cholesterol levels are, where they should be, and how best to get there. Good luck.
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