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Watch Your Cholesterol!

According to the American Heart Association, ninety-eight million adults over the age of 20 in the United States have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) --the “bad,” cholesterol, while thirty-one million have total cholesterol levels over 240. Some cholesterol is necessary. The body uses cholesterol to produce estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D, and other vital compounds. However, too much cholesterol, in particularly LDL cholesterol creates dangerous health risks. As a rule, lower LDL and higher HDL cholesterol levels lower the risks of heart disease and other chronic conditions. There are some broad but simple tips to keep in mind that will help keep your cholesterol under control.
  • Always use minimally-processed plant oils such as olive or grape seed oil for cooking or baking.
  • Steer clear of processed food that contain trans fats.
  • Look for a margarine that has zero grams of trans fat and no partially hydrogenated oils. Try an olive oil dip for bread or toast.
  • Reduce the red meat, cheese, and milk in your diet, they are high in saturated fat.
There are also a few specific items that should be added to your menus.
  • Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which is known to reduce low-density LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as lentils, kidney beans, apples, broccoli, and black beans.
  • Fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in: Mackerel, lake trout, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats.
  • Walnuts, pecans and other nuts can improve blood cholesterol. A single handful of nuts a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure the nuts you eat aren't salted or coated with sugar.
  • Avocados are a potent source of nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids which can help improve LDL levels, particularly in people who are overweight or obese.
  • Stay away from processed food with the label 'low-fat.' Food processors many remove some fat from their products, but they may be replacing the fat with carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, and starch. The replacements can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and dip  -- leading to hunger and opening up the possibility over overeating and weight gain. Also, look for artificial additives ... do  you want them as part of your nutritional regimen?
Your cholesterol levels are an important factor in you overall heath. Do your best to keep them under control naturally!

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