Hypercholesterolemia: causes and treatment

Hypercholesterolemia can be caused by many factors, often present simultaneously.
What are they?

And dietary cholesterol?
There is not a direct correlation between blood cholesterol and cholesterol intake. Dietary cholesterol may increase plasma cholesterol only when it is consumed with trans fats and saturated fatty acids.
However, if you want to reduce your cholesterol intake, we advise to reduce the use of animal products and/or use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, light cheese, light yogurt, and lean meat.


Saturated fatty acids

A risky factor for hypercholesterolemia is a high intake of saturated fatty acids, a group of lipids that can be easily used for the endogenous synthesis of cholesterol.Hypercholesterolemia and processed foods
These fatty acids are present in meat, diary products, and in abundance in vegetal fats and oils, such as margarine, palm oil, palm seed oil, and coconut oil, which are much used in the confectionery industry.
What to do:

  • to eliminate the visible fat of meat, or buy lean cuts;
  • to replace whole milk, butter, fat cheese, creams, and ice-creams with products which contain less fat, such as low-fat yogurt, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat cheeses;
  • to avoid confectionery products.

Trans fatty acids

Trans fatty acids or trans fats are an extremely risky factor, and not only for hypercholesterolemia.
Studies have observed a high atherogenic potential caused by changes in plasmatic lipoproteins, where a decrease of HDL levels, and an increase of LDL and triglyceride levels occur.
Where can they be found?

  • In a lot of foods for kids.
  • In baked industrial products, such as crackers, breadsticks, cakes, packed bread, and snacks.
  • In a lot of industrial foods, such as soups, ready fresh or frozen meals, and mixtures to prepare pies and pizza.
  • In bouillon cubes.
  • In soft candies.
  • In some corn flakes.
  • In ice creams, in vegetal substitutes of cream, and in margarine.
  • In a lot of preserves, jams included.

As regards to the content of saturated and trans fatty acids, there is often no difference between classic products and “natural” or “organic” ones.
What can we do?
To avoid to buy products that contain vegetal fats and/or hydrogenated fatty acids, and to avoid to buy fried products.


A significant body fat gain contributes to hypercholesterolemia.
In a lot of people, the decrease in the intake of satured and trans fatty acids doesn’t reduce the cholesterolemia levels till weight starts to drop.
What to do:

  • to reduce the intake of animal and vegetable fats;
  • to reduce foods rich in simple sugars, such as sweets, soft drinks, desserts, candies, and cakes;
  • do not win back calories you have eliminated in the preceding points by an excessive use of extravergin olive oil and starch, namely pasta, potatoes, rice, bread;
  • to increase the physical activity;
  • to increase the intake of fruit and vegetables.

Genetic causes

In this case, it needs a drug prescription by physician, which must be however combined with right nutritional advices.


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