What Increases and Decreases Good & Bad Cholesterol?
By Linda Giles
Factors leading to and Increase in Cholesterol
Poor eating habits
Diet that is high in saturated fat tends to elevate cholesterol. Saturated fats are found mostly in foods that come from animals. Saturated fat raises you LDL ("bad") cholesterol level more that anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat is the main reason for high levels of cholesterol and high rate of heart attacks.
Cigarette smoking lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and is one of the six major risk factors of heart disease. It also increases the tendency for blood to clot. Once a person quits smoking, HDL cholesterol levels rises within weeks or months to levels that are equal to their nonsmoking peers.
Excess weight tends to increase your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level. If you are over weight and have high LDL-cholesterol level, losing weight may help you lower it.
Heredity can make certain individuals more prone to high cholesterol. Genes play a role in influencing you LDL-cholesterol level. Your genes influence how high you LDL ("bad") cholesterol is by affecting how fast LDL is made and removed from the blood.
Stress over the long term has been shown in several studies to raise blood cholesterol levels. One way that stress may do this is by affecting your habits. For example, when some people are under stress, they console themselves by eating fatty foods.
Alcohol intake increases HDL ("good") cholesterol but does not lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. But drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver and heart muscle, lead to high blood pressure, and raise triglycerides. Because of the risks, the benefit isn't great enough to recommend drinking alcohol if you don't do so already.
Factors which Lower Cholesterol in the Body
Good Eating Habits
Eating healthy is a vital part of lowering you cholesterol. Increasing fiber intake by as little as 3 grams per day can help lower cholesterol. Good sources include oatmeal, soy, legumes, some vegetables, and beans. A healthy diet includes minimal saturated fat. However, monounsaturated fats (olive oils) have a positive effect on cholesterol. Alcohol should also be kept to a minimum.
Along with diet, exercising is an important part of achieving a healthy cholesterol level. Being physically active can help lower you cholesterol level, whether it involves everyday activities like cleaning or gardening or structured exercise program. Exercise sets off a series of enzymatic reactions in the body that increases HDL's and lowers triglycerides. This will ultimately lower LDL's ("bad") and total cholesterol.
This is actually the most significant independent contributor to cholesterol reduction. While exercise and proper diet contribute to cholesterol reduction. In most cases weight loss must occur to see an improvement. The good news is that only a five percent weight loss can alter cholesterol significantly.