Are low cholesterol diet, as in reading labels and avoiding foods that contain cholesterol, or are you following a diet that promotes low cholesterol. A diet that promotes low cholesterol does not actually focus on the cholesterol content of foods as much as limiting saturated and trans fats, increasing dietary fiber, etc. You can read more about a diet to lower cholesterol here.
Also, if it's high triglycerides causing your cholesterol to be elevated, you need to take a slightly different approach. If triglycerides are a problem are for you, I recommend reading this article - Triglycerides: Why they matter and how to lower them.
It is possible for total cholesterol to be above 200 when you have an exceptionally high HDL (good) cholesterol and all other cholesterol components (LDL, triglycerides) within a normal range.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
The Heart of Health ezine
Hello Mshaw, I am glad to hear that you eat well and exercise. Though these may not be helping lower your cholesterol as much as you and your doctor may like, they certainly make you healthier in many other ways! One of the most important factors that determines a person's cholesterol level is genetics. If members of your family have high cholesterol, then you are likely to have high cholesterol, too, regardless of your diet. Especially if your cholesterol numbers are exteremly high, (LDL>300), you could have a familial cholesterol disease. These diseases (there are several variants) are fairly common (1 in 500 people), and usually need to be treated with medications, as well as diet and exercise. Hope this helps. To your health,Neil MD