What causes high cholesterol?

One of the most common causes of high cholesterol levels in the blood is eating too much saturated fat. Lack of regular exercise, being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking can also raise cholesterol levels.

Luckily, these are all factors you can change to help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease. There are some factors that increase your risk of having raised cholesterol levels that can’t be changed. These include having a family history of raised cholesterol or early cardiovascular disease, being over 40 years old and having a diagnosis of any condition that affects cholesterol levels. For example, around 1 in 250 people have high cholesterol levels caused by a genetic condition called Familial Hypercholesterolaemia. If any of the factors that can’t be changed apply to you, it’s even more important you focus on making changes to the factors above that you can control.

What about cholesterol found in food?

The cholesterol that naturally occurs in some foods – such as eggs, prawns, liver and kidney – is known as ‘dietary cholesterol’. Dietary cholesterol usually has very little influence on blood cholesterol levels, so food like eggs and prawns can be eaten as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

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