Understanding Cholesterol Problems: The Basics
Who Develops Cholesterol Problems?
Most cholesterol problems are determined largely by luck of the genetic draw. Some families are genetically blessed with low total cholesterol or high levels of HDL ("good cholesterol"), regardless of diet or lifestyle. Other families inherit genes that increase their risk for high cholesterol. In these people, eating a diet high in saturated fat can significantly raise cholesterol levels. Stress can also raise blood cholesterol levels, especially since stress can lead to poor eating habits that may increase cholesterol intake.
On the positive side, vigorous exercisers -- such as long-distance runners -- tend to have high HDL cholesterol levels. Before menopause, women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol than men their age.