Cholesterol Education Update

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Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks and about a half million people die from heart disease. Having high cholesterol raises your risk for having a heart attack or developing heart disease.

Everyone needs a little TLC!
TLC stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes. These include a cholesterol-lowering diet, physical activity and weight management. They are recommended for anyone with a high LDL level by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

LDL (mg/dL):
• Less than 100 Optimal
• 100-129 Near optimal
• 130-159 Borderline high
• 160-189 High
• 190 and above Very high

Keeping your LDL level below 100 for your lifetime is a good idea because your arteries won’t clog up. TLC is really a good idea for everyone because it will help prevent and treat heart disease.

Diet - Limit or avoid foods that raise your cholesterol
Compounds that raise your cholesterol include:
• Saturated fat - found in dairy products that are not fat-free including: butter, milk and cheese. Also found in significant amounts in lard, meat, dark poultry with skin and tropical oils such as coconut, palm oils and chocolate.
• Cholesterol - found in significant amounts in organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp and squid.
• Trans-fatty acids - found in fried foods and foods made with hydrogenated oils like crackers and cookies.

Diet - Eat more foods that help you lower your cholesterol
Compounds that help lower your cholesterol include:
• Soluble fiber - found in significant amounts in legumes (dried peas and beans), citrus fruits, apples, pears, oatmeal, oat bran, barley, sweet potatoes, flax and root vegetables.
• Plant sterols - found in significant amounts in Benecol and Take Control margarines as well as in legumes, nuts and seeds.
• Soy protein - try to replace animal protein with soy protein to lower your cholesterol. Studies show that consuming 25 g or more of soy protein a day can help lower cholesterol. Tofu, soybeans, soy burgers, soy crumbles, soymilk, baked tofu, tempeh and TVP® are all good sources.

Most plant foods, with the exception of tropical oils, are beneficial for helping you lower your cholesterol. Eat these as close to their natural form as possible so you obtain more fiber and nutrients. Whole grains, legumes (beans and peas), potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruits and soyfoods along with some nuts, nonfat dairy and fatty fish are the best prescription for a healthy heart. This diet, if low in sodium, will help prevent high blood pressure, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.It will also help prevent diabetes and obesity.

Physical activity
Not being physically active raises your risk of coronary heart disease and many other diseases including obesity, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. You should try to exercise moderately for 30 minutes most days of the week.

Weight management
The best way to lose weight without chronic hunger is to eat a diet high in whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits with little added sugar and refined oils and to get enough exercise. Losing weight will help lower your risk for heart disease. It will also help lower your triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol levels and raise your HDL levels.

How do I control my lipid levels?
• Cholesterol - High cholesterol levels in the blood can cause plaque to form on the artery walls. Keep total cholesterol levels low by limiting or avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fatty acids. Eat more foods that are high in fiber like beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
• HDL - High-density lipoprotein is also known as "good" cholesterol because it transports excess cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. Keep HDL levels high by exercising aerobically, limiting sugar and other refined carbohydrates, eating smaller, more frequent meals, losing weight if you are overweight and consuming fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and trout).
• LDL - Coronary heart disease would become an unusual and uncommon cause of death in America if everyone would keep their LDL?level below 100. To keep your LDL level low, follow the tips above for total cholesterol.
• Triglycerides - Calories ingested and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells. Keep triglyceride levels low by following tips to keep HDL high.

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