What is Cholesterol?

The subject is frequently mentioned at the dinner table. "What is high cholesterol?" "Is it important to get my cholesterol levels checked?" "My cholesterol is 250, is that high?" "What is the difference between HDL and LDL levels? Here is a brief introduction to cholesterol...

Cholesterol levels play a big role in your heart health. High cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. That is why it is important to know your cholesterol levels today to prevent heart disease in the future. Studies show that plaque formation can appear as early as age 2. If you have a family history of high cholesterol it is recommended that you check your levels at an earlier age.  If you don't have a family history of heart disease and you are in overall healthy physical shape it is a good idea to get your cholesterol levels checked in your early 20's. If your levels appear normal, you should re-check every 5 years.

The desirable level that puts you at a lower risk is 200mg/dL. The mg/dL stands for milligrams per deciliter of blood. Levels of 200-239mg/dL is borderline high, persons with 240mg/dL or above are in high risk for coronary disease. There are two types of cholesterol. Low- density lipoprotein; Bad cholesterol (LDL), and High-density lipoprotein; Good cholesterol (HDL). You want your LDL's to be low and your HDL's to be high. Too much LDL in your blood can clog your arties while high levels of HDL can help protect you from having a heart attack.

There are many factors that affect your cholesterol levels such as age, genes, weight, exercise, and diet. If you are consuming a healthy diet chances are you are at a healthy weight which is beneficial to your overall cholesterol health. In some cases if your cholesterol levels are high and diet and exercise don't work, your doctor may recommend medication. Below are examples of foods that can help lower cholesterol...

Whole Grains and Oats (Whole Wheat Breads & Pastas, Brown Rice, Barley, Bulger, and Whole Grain Cereals)

Raw Nuts, especially Almonds and Walnuts ( A small handful a day is all you need)

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Salmon, Flaxseeds, Olive Oil and Avocados)

Beans and Legumes (Kidney, Navy, Black, Chickpea, Soy, Pinto and Lentils)

Raw Garlic (It is important to consume the garlic raw. Mince garlic and mix with plain yogurt. It makes a great dip for veggies, spread for sandwiches, and sauce to eat with meats)

Berries (Eat them raw, or add them to a Yogurt Smoothie)



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