The cause of cholesterol problems can not be attributed to any one factor in particular. Most people believe that only people who are overweight and unhealthy have high cholesterol, but this is not always the case. This fact can be quite devastating for a person who is very fit and is told that they have high cholesterol. I know a young woman who was an aerobics instructor, taking classes 5 days a week and she was told she had a cholesterol level of 9. She was devastated with the news.

Although it is true that being overweight can negatively affect your cholesterol levels, your weight is definitely not the sole determinate of whether or not your cholesterol levels are too high. In fact, a person who suffers from high cholesterol may unexpectedly appear to be completely healthy, even while their arteries are slowly narrowing and hardening.

Having high cholesterol is very dangerous because it can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Because it has no symptoms, it is especially important to understand what can cause it so that you can be aware of whether or not you are at risk. Below is a list of the most common causes of high cholesterol.

1. Weight. Being overweight can in fact increase your LDH (bad cholesterol) levels, and losing weight will lower them. Losing weight can also raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

2. Diet. Consuming a high amount of cholesterol will obviously increase the level of cholesterol in your body, but a diet high in saturated fats and low in fiber can also be the cause of cholesterol problems.

Regulating your diet is one of the most important things you can do to avoid high cholesterol. Try to focus on eating more unsaturated fats and less saturated ones, and keep your overall fat intake below thirty-five percent of your daily diet. Also make sure you get plenty of fiber, as this helps take the bad cholesterol out of your blood stream.

3. Lack of Exercise . Regular exercise is very important to keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Walking, biking, or running for just thirty minutes a day can keep your bad cholesterol down, and more rigorous exercise can even raise good cholesterol levels.

4. Stress. Some studies have shown that mental stress can be a cause of cholesterol levels rising.

5. Age and Gender. Your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease increases with your age. Men over forty-five and women over fifty-five have higher risk than people in their twenties and thirties. Post-menopausal women have the highest risk, but pre-menopausal women are actually at lower risk for heart disease than men of the same age.

6. Genes. If you have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol in your family, you may be at risk, even if you always exercise and eat well. It appears that some people just are not able to effectively metabolize LDH cholesterol, and this trait is generally inherited.

As previously stated, there are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, so the only way to know if you have it is through a blood test that your doctor can administrator. If you have more than one of the above risk factors, you should make sure to get yourself tested for high cholesterol regularly.

These factors are the main cause of cholesterol problems, but even if you do not have any, you should be tested about once every five years. High cholesterol is very serious because it puts you at risk for having a heart attack or stroke, so it is important that you know you have it before it is too late!