Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Food and Health: Good and Bad Cholesterol

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Eat healthy foods

   
      Many people are raving about what diet is most effective and which exercise works best in order to lose weight and regain health. But the fact remains that many of us try to do these things when we already have the symptoms of heart disease, hypertension, or experience mild stroke which are eye-openers for us to start a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, the effects of the food we've eaten for so long start to take its toll on our body that it becomes too late for some of us. 
fatty foods
     In today's modern media, perhaps everyone knows about cholesterol which is literally 'fat' which cannot be dissolved in our blood; actually a soft, fat-like waxy substance found in our blood stream which are transported to and from our cells by carriers known as 'lipoproteins'.  75% of the cholesterol in our body is produced by our liver and by certain cells and 25 % comes form our diet. There are two kinds: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol which circulates in the blood and slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries and can form plaques--a thick, hard deposit that narrows the arteries and make them less flexible--which lead to a condition known as 'atherosclerosis' or hardening of the arteries. This leads to blood clots and forms blocks which may result to heart attacks and strokes. The other kind is known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol which carries 1/4 to 1/3 of blood cholesterol. There are two sides to HDL: first, high levels of it protect against heart attack by removing excess cholesterol from arterial plaques, but second, low levels of it can also increase the risk of heart disease. These two, plus triglycerides, and Lp(a) cholesterol make up our total cholesterol count. 

     Do you know that the better the food tastes, the higher the cholesterol level? Macaroni and cheese, steaks, cakes, ice creams, eggs, etc., these all taste good but they all contain saturated fat that make them harmful; these cause the liver to produce  4x more harmful cholesterol than from these food. Saturated fats mostly come from animal products--meat, dairy, etc. and they form and join LDLs in our body. What we should be looking for are the ones which contain unsaturated fats or no fat at all. Fish (salmon, tuna, albacore) and nuts  (almonds, walnuts, pecans) which contain omega-3 fatty acids which lower the risk of heart disease, reduce hypertension and blood clots are recommended, plus high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables and oats and grains. Or, if we cannot really help but eat some food which really are our favorites like pasta, creams, fried food, etc., we can opt for the ones which are labeled "low cholesterol", "fat free", etc. But let us not be fooled and remember this, according to http://www.all-about-lowering-cholesterol.com :


     "Cholesterol Free" --means less than 2 mg. cholesterol and 2 gms. or less fat
     "Low Cholesterol" --means 20 mgs. or less cholesterol and 2 gms. or less saturated fat
     "Fat Free"            --means less than 1/2 gm. fat
     "Low Fat"            --means 3 gms. or less fat


     However, knowing what not to eat and avoiding them or lowering your intake does not guarantee that your cholesterol level would go down. But it's a good start. You may want to to use other methods like exercise, increase fiber, fish and omega-3 intake, as well.


Sources: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=180
             http://www.all-about-lowering-cholesterol.com/high-cholesterol-foods.html

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