The big movers in cholesterol are the following:
a) Saturated fat. Don't believe what they tell you on the internet. Drop your saturated fat to 1 gram or less per meal and your cholesterol will drop very significantly. You don't need saturated fat for anything and it lower nitric oxide.
c) Being overweight. Every pound overweight adds a point to your cholesterol.
d) Any of the production line hormones at the lower end of the range per Dr. Dzugan's work. Dr. Dzugan found in his patients if estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, etc was low, cholesterol would ramp up to try to compensate.
When I started losing weight, my cholesterol was about 235, with 185 LDL and 35 HDL (my triglycerides were always pretty good, and have gotten phenomenal -- in the 40s-50s -- so I will leave them out of this).
I lost 60 pounds and changed my diet a lot to exclude a lot of saturated fat, sugars, meats, and processed foods. Not completely, but a lot better than what I had been doing.
Total cholesterol dropped to 185 or so -- which is actually about a point per pound lost. LDL cholesterol dropped to 135 or so... Still shitty, but a significant difference. HDL dropped to 32, then clawed its way up to 40 over time. Trigs were in the 40s at this time -- I was eating about as saintly as I ever had in my life. I got within a sniff of being at ideal weight by BMI.
May I interject that at this point in my life, I pretty much want to punch everyone I meet who scarfs pizza in front of the TV every night and has great cholesterol. They exist. It's mostly genetics, and genetics is a class A bitch.
Anyway, in the end it took a statin to get my cholesterol safely within "normal", and at this point the damage has already been done (aortic stenosis, CAC of 156, and -- while things have improved with Clomid -- ominously weaker erections that are slower to rise and quicker to fall than they should be), at the age of 43.
My biggest mistake in life, it seems, was to not get my cholesterol checked in my 20s-30s. For most guys that would probably be a minor mistake. But for a few lucky ducks like myself...