Cholesterol Myths – both Good and Bad
Most people think that cholesterol is always bad, but there are actually two types of cholesterol. LDL is considered the "bad" cholesterol, and HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol. If there is too much LDL in our bloodstream, it will form plaque on our arteries. Over time, this narrows our arteries and can eventually block blood flow completely. Dietary cholesterol actually isn't the primary reason for high cholesterol in the blood; it is high amounts of saturated fat and trans fat. To keep cholesterol low, you should eat unsaturated fats, eat fibrous foods, and exercise more.
Cholesterol Numbers and What They Mean
Every adult should have their cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. When you get a cholesterol test, you'll usually get back four different results. Here are the 4 categories and the healthy range you want to be in.
Total Cholesterol - less than 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L)
LDL Cholesterol - less than 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L)
HDL Cholesterol - greater than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L)
Triglycerides - less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
If you are over or under the desired level on any category, it is usually indicative that a diet or exercise change is needed.
Protecting Your Heart with Vitamin E
You can find Vitamin E in many nuts, leafy vegetables and vegetable oils. While it cannot prevent a stroke, Vitamin E can still reduce your risk for heart disease.
Five Great Foods to Lower Your Cholesterol
1. Oatmeal and Oat Bran: These contain a high amount of soluble fiber, which can lower LDL.
2. Fish: Fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which lowers LDL and raises HDL.
3. Nuts: Not only are nuts high in fiber, but they contain the healthy fats you need to keep LDL in check.
4. Plant Sterols: This is found in foods like margarine, salad dressing, orange juice, and functional cookies. 2 grams per day will lower your LDL by 10-15%.
5. Soy: This popular meat replacement can lower LDL by up to 3%.
Benefits Aplenty with Plant Sterols
Plant sterols can be found in foods such as Benecol Spread, granola bars, Vita Tops Muffin Tops and fat free milk. To help your heart, you should eat a lot of plant sterols-packed food and stop eating foods with saturated fat. You should know that this does not balance out a diet rich in saturated fats. To be in control of your cholesterol, you should still eat healthy and exercise often.
About the Guest Writer - Deborah H. Land writes for the Cholesterol Lowering Diet Blog, her personal hobby blog she uses to help people lower bad cholesterol levels. For more heart healthy and cholesterol lowering diet tips, check out Deborah's blog.
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