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High Cholesterol in Men

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Why should I care about high cholesterol in men? continued...

What are the risk factors for having high cholesterol?

Your risk of having high cholesterol increases if:

  • Your diet is high in saturated fat. These fats, found in meat and full-fat dairy products, raise LDL cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol, found in eggs and organ meats, can also raise blood cholesterol levels, but not as much as saturated fat does.
  • You eat foods containing trans fats. These are artificially made fats found in partially hydrogenated oils. They raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol -- exactly the wrong combination.
  • You eat processed foods or foods high in carbohydrates. These types of foods have also been shown to increase LDL cholesterol.
  • You are overweight or obese. Excess weight increases LDL and lowers HDL.
  • You don’t get much exercise. Studies show that frequent exercise can boost HDL, the good cholesterol. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain.

How does the doctor know I have high cholesterol?

There are two different types of cholesterol tests. The simplest measures total cholesterol levels in the blood. Most doctors, though, use a lipoprotein analysis, which includes: 

  • Total cholesterol level
  • LDL cholesterol level
  • HDL cholesterol level
  • Triglycerides (another fat in your blood that raises the risk of heart disease)

How can I prevent high cholesterol?

To reduce your cholesterol, one of the most important change to make is to cut back on the amount of saturated fat and trans fats in your diet. That means cutting back on meat and poultry -- either by eating smaller portions or eating them less often -- and choosing skim or low-fat dairy products. It also means eating less fried food, processed food, and foods high in sugar.

It is also important to increase the amount of soluble fiber you eat. This form of fiber, found in oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples, for example, helps remove LDL from the body.

If you are overweight or obese, losing even just a few pounds can help lower your cholesterol levels. There is no magical formula for weight loss, of course, but reducing portion sizes and cutting out things you can easily live without, such as beverages sweetened with sugar, is a good place to start. The average American now gets more than 20% of calories from beverages. Switching to water is painless and can make a big difference in total calories.

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