How did your eating change after you found out you have high cholesterol? Or did it? Or what do you do to keep your cholesterol low?
From my reading on the subject, dietary intake of cholesterol has only a minimal effect on blood cholesterol (+/- 10%, perhaps), so my diet hasn't changed much. Far more important is heredity, which you can't do anything about.
Which is not to say there's nothing you can do - exercise helps quite a bit, and has lots of other health benefits as well. My doctor recommended fish oil capsules as well, in largish quantities (six or more grams a day). That also made a difference for me. One caveat: if you do decide to try them, be sure to get the odorless ones.
When I was diagnosed, the initial recommendation from the doctor was to moderate the fat in my diet. My other lipids were also high so there was a recommednation to moderate alcohol as well - that was before I went on the wagon for other reasons.
I did quite well in cutting back on fat - pretty much eliminating fried foods, big cutbacks on things like cheese and swapping butter out for a low fat sunflower spread. It made something of a difference but not enough to prevent the need for daily medication. As Bob says, high levels are mostly genetic.
Animal fat and transfat can be two of the biggest culprits. I try to limit my full fat dairy, focus on drier or higher flavor cheese (in small quantities) and have found brown rice is great in pilaf and whole wheat tortillas taste the same as white ones. Still working on finding a non-white pasta that I really love as much as white/semolina--pasta is my favorite.
I once did the NCEP Level III diet for about 22 weeks as part of a project and was really strict about it. Lost weight, but cholesterol didn't really budge (I dropped just over 4% on LDL-C).
You can regulate via diet to some extent (more fibre, garlic+fish oil, flax seed, plenty'o fibre) but would need to incorporate exercise and some additional lifestyle changes (e.g. dropping sweet sweet booze, regular mealtimes, stopping smoking).
And if it's genetics, blame your parents, do all that other stuff, and go speak with your physician about what pharmaceutical alternatives are available to you which makes sense for you.
My cholesterol is consistently high, but while my HDL levels are abnormally high, the LDL is well down there, so my doctor is pretty happy with that. What worries both of us is my triglycerides, which have apparently been chronically high even back in my skinny days. If I were willing to give up my regular wine consumption, that would probably help, but I'm not. I am taking simvastatin for the cholesterol and fish oil too, despite the fact that my otherwise sane doctor insists it has NO EFFECT on triglycerides. I've been taking just one 1.2 gram capsule a day - since I tolerate such things well, I think I'm going to do three a day and see what happens. I've also caved in to the inevitable and am signing up with a gym on the Silver Sneakers program; I've lost about 18 lbs on diet alone (mostly fish and salad for supper), but I've been stuck on a plateau for a while, so it's time for some organized sweat.
The only radical changes we've made to our diet is cutting simple carbs as much as is tolerable, generally eating NO carbs for supper - maybe brown rice once a week. Portion control is another biggie; having grown up in a family in which such comments as, "Is that all you're taking? You need to put some meat on those bones!" were not uncommon, cooking one salmon fillet for two people and stll having leftovers for my lunch has become the new Normal.
re: Will Owen
Lopid (Gemfibrozil) is what my friend was prescribed for high triglycerides, high HDL and low LDL after having a mild heart attack. The cardiologist also recommended Omega 3 supplements...specified Omega 3 and not Omega 6, preferably krill oil. He was also told to cut back on sugars, fats, eat more whole grains, get more fiber and more exercise.
BTW, the high triglycerides, low LDL and high HDL can be symptoms of metabolic syndrome, too.