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Lowering cholesterol is important business. The airwaves are replete with messages promoting drugs to reduce cholesterol risk. "Ask your doctor if Brand-X is right for you."
I am not here to minimize the importance and usefulness of proper drug therapy in cholesterol management. Simply put drugs save lives. For many they are an integral part of reducing the risk of heart disease. In situations like these the mantra of the 1960's, "Do drugs!" might be appropriate.
But there is a down side to drug therapy. It is expensive. And drugs can have many negative side-effects. If given the choice, would it not be better if you could reduce your cholesterol risk without drug therapy?
It is an interesting scenario.
One topic of conversation that would not arise is that of cholesterol management. It simply would not be an issue. We would be ignorant of the topic. Not because we couldn't watch the local news, but because we would have no problems with our cholesterol levels. Wouldn't that be a switch?
For us our whole world would be our freezer. But the contents of that freezer would be a bit different than the freezers we have now. There is, however, one thing that would be the same. In both scenarios our freezers would be stuffed with fatty foods. In fact it could be argued that the artic freezer has more fatty foods than the one I have out in my storage room.
Towards the middle of the last century researchers discovered that the Inuit Eskimos had diets high in fat yet had very low incidence of heart disease. This flew in the face of our ideas concerning heart disease and fat.
The fact is the Inuit Eskimos had stable cholesterol profiles and low triglycerides. Their blood platelets also were not as sticky as their American and European counterparts. They stuffed their faces with fatty foods all day long and yet had healthy hearts. Apparently they could teach us a thing or two about cholesterol management.
As you can imagine this discovery gave rise to a flurry of scientific studies. The flurry still has not subsided. Finally we could have our fat and eat it too. We have learned some things since then. We now know that not all fats are the same. We know that there are some fats which are known as essential fatty acids. They are necessary for proper health and our bodies cannot produce them.
The particular essential fatty acid that the Eskimos were getting in abundance - they still are I suppose - is known as omega-3.
Since the startling discovery involving the Inuit Eskimos omega-3 has received abundant attention among researchers. The result is that omega-3 has been used in the treatment of a variety of chronic health conditions. Some of these include...
* High Blood Pressure
* Eating Disorders
* Skin Disorders
* Macular Degeneration
This list doesn't include heart conditions such as arrhythmia, sudden cardiac death, and serum cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
So where do we get this marvelous omega-3? It primarily comes from two sources. Vegetative sources such as flax seeds and broccoli are rather high in ALA which is a form of omega-3. The other two forms, EPA and DHA, are found in cold-water fatty fish. These two omega-3 varieties are responsible for the low incidence of heart disease among those who consume large amounts of fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna.
How much fish is enough?
Well, for those of us who do not live in igloos it is a lot of fish. Two or three meals per week including fish high in omega-3 is a good start for those who have no history of heart disease.
However if you have an arrhythmia, high triglycerides, high cholesterol or atherosclerosis build up, two to three meals per week including cold-water fish probably isn't enough. You may want to consider taking a quality fish oil supplement. It is a great way to get sufficient levels of omega-3 without the fear of contaminants like mercury poisoning. A few of the best ones don't even have a fishy aftertaste.
So, if you are concerned with heart health and would like to live without the drugs, eat more fish. Eat it every day. If you can't eat it everyday, consider fish oil supplements. Think like an Eskimo.
For more information on cholesterol management and omega-3 please use the links below:
Greg has degrees in science, divinity and philosophy and is currently an I.T. developer.
We really do care about your health and happiness and are thrilled you are interested in our articles, but please always check with your doctor before trying something new!
Reduce Cholesterol By Eating Right
Has your doctor advised you to reduce your cholesterol level?
That is no surprise considering how many people have high cholesterol these days. To help lower your cholesterol, here are 10 simple tips you can use live a healthier life.
For most health related issues, diet and exercise are two of the most crucial components.
What you eat is critical to lowering your cholesterol levels, so let's focus on that for now.
One thing you should know is the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol. Simply think of HDL as "healthy" and LDL as "lousy." HDL actually helps carry cholesterol out of your blood vessels while LDL allows it to deposit inside your artery walls.
The good news is that you can change your cholesterol largely by changing your eating habits. Let's take a look at some of the tips you can start applying today:
1. Have a nice sandwich on whole wheat bread or a pita with some lean turkey and lots of fresh veggies such as lettuce and tomatoes. Skip the hot dogs, bologna, and salami, and hold the mayo. All of those things are processed foods that are filled with fat and cholesterol.
2. Fish such as salmon is good. Look for wild red salmon varieties, which are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids (good fat.) Also, flax seed is a good source of Omega-3s.
3. Avoid trans fats! Not only do they raise the lousy LDL cholesterol, they can also lower your HDL levels! Stay away from foods like margarine, shortening, and processed foods containing partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Most products you find in the grocery stores should have the amount of trans fats indicated on the nutritional information.
4. Nuts are good for you. Look for walnuts mainly but also try almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and pecans. Nuts are high in fat, but it's the good kind. (Also, use natural peanut butter instead of the normal kind which contains unhealthy trans fats.)
5. Cut down on the sweets (desserts) and try to eat only the healthier ones like angel food cake, graham crackers, Jell-O, and fat-free frozen yogurt.
6. Eat foods that are high in fiber. For instance, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and some cereals are good. (Look for the boxes that say "may help lower cholesterol.")
7. Use the grill instead of the deep fryer. If you're going to have steak or burgers, grill them at home and use lean meat. This practice avoids the grease, is fun, and the meat tastes great.
8. Watch your salad dressing. Most of them are full of trans fats and cholesterol. Olive oil is good, and maybe add vinegar or lemon juice. Also, skip the bacon bits, croutons, and egg yolks.
9. Go overboard on fruits and vegetables. They contain no cholesterol and they have lots of nutrients like antioxidants.
Here are some examples: green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oranges, mangos, papaya, pineapple, tomato, garlic, onions, spinach, water chestnuts, bananas, apricots, blueberries, and kiwi.
10. Avoid fast food like french fries and anything else from the deep fryer. Those foods will quickly raise your cholesterol so keep away from the burger joints if you can.
That was easy, wasn't it? Just make some of these changes and get plenty of exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, or playing basketball. You will have lower cholesterol in no time!
Jim Scotty shares useful tips on reducing your cholesterol levels through healthy eating and exercise. Visit www.aboutcholestrol.com and get the free 42-page guide to reduce cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a substance we hear about almost everyday. It's in the news and it's often one of the items that our doctor talks to us about when we have a physical and/or blood test.
Cholesterol is a form of fat that is produced by our bodies and also taken in from many of the foods we eat. For health discussion purposes, it is generally referred to as HDL's (high density lipoproteins) and LDL's (low density lipoproteins). HDL's are considered to be "good" fats, and you want to see blood test results that show your HDL's to be above 40 mg/dL. LDL's are considered to be "bad" fats, and on a blood test you want those to be under 100 mg/dL. An acceptable target for total cholesterol is under 200mg/dL, with numbers around 160 being considered even better.
LDL's can form plaque on the inside of our arteries, which can lead to various problems including stroke and heart attack. HDL's appear to help carry LDL's out of the blood to the liver where they can be disposed of safely.
Triglycerides are another type of fat found in the body. They are often talked about in relation to cholesterol. Generally, people with high levels of triglycerides have high levels of LDL's too. Triglyceride levels should be under 160 mg/dL.
Online fitness coach Tom Manfredi is the creator of the site fitness-after-50.com. He has a master's degree in exercise physiology and over 20 years of practical exercise experience.
This site is designed with the mature adult in mind. Learn more by going to fitness-after-50.com
For years we heard that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet would keep us healthy and help us lose weight.
And many of us jumped on the bandwagon, eliminating fat and high-cholesterol foods from our diets. Well, unfortunately, we were doing it all wrong. Instead of eliminating fat completely, we should have been eliminating the "bad fats," the fats associated with obesity and heart disease and eating the "good fats", the fats that actually help improve blood cholesterol levels.
Before we examine the good fats and bad fats, let's talk about cholesterol.
Cholesterol - It's been ingrained into our brains that cholesterol causes heart disease and that we should limit our intake of foods that contain it, but dietary cholesterol is different than blood cholesterol.
Cholesterol comes from two places--first, from food such as meat, eggs, and seafood, and second, from our body. Our liver makes this waxy substance and links it to carrier proteins called lipoproteins.
These lipoproteins dissolve the cholesterol in blood and carry it to all parts of your body. Our body needs cholesterol to help form cell membranes, some hormones, and Vitamin D. You may have heard of "good" and "bad" cholesterol.
Well, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from the blood to the liver. The liver processes the cholesterol for elimination from the body. If there's HDL in the blood, then less cholesterol will be deposited in the coronary arteries. That's why it's called "good" cholesterol. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When there is too much in the body, it is deposited in the coronary arteries. This is not good. A build-up of cholesterol in our arteries could prevent blood from getting to parts of our heart.
That means that our heart won't get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, which could result in heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. So, if your LDL is higher than your HDL, you're at a greater risk for developing heart disease. It may come as a surprise, but recent studies have shown that the amount of cholesterol in our food is not strongly linked to our blood cholesterol levels.
It's the types of fats you eat that affect your blood cholesterol levels.
There are two fats that you should limit your intake of--saturated and trans fats. Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are mostly animal fats. You find them in meat, whole-milk products, poultry skin, and egg yolks. Coconut oil also has a high amount of saturated fat. Saturated fats raise both the good and bad blood cholesterol. Trans Fats
Trans fats are produced through hydrogenation--heating oils in the presence of oxygen. Many products contain trans fats because the fats help them maintain a longer shelf life. Margarine also contains a high amount of trans fats.
Trans fats are especially dangerous because they lower the good cholesterol, HDL and raise the bad cholesterol, LDL. Unfortunately, most products do not tell you how much trans fat it contains, but you can find out if it's in a product by looking at the ingredient list.
If the ingredients contain hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, then it contains trans fats. Fortunately in 2006, manufacturers will be required to list the amount of trans fat in their products on the nutrition labels, so it will be easier for you to find. Good Fats
Some fats actually improve cholesterol levels.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in sunflower, corn, and soybean oils. These oils contain Omega-6, an essential fatty acid. However, most people get enough Omega-6 in their diet and instead need more Omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid found in fish and walnuts.
Monounsaturated fats are found in canola, peanut, and olive oils. Both types of unsaturated fats decrease the bad cholesterol, LDL and increase the good cholesterol, HDL. Now, just because the unsaturated fats improve your blood cholesterol levels, you don't have the go-ahead to eat all of the olive oil, butter and nuts you want. Fat of any kind does contain calories, and if you're trying to lose weight, eat fat in moderation, and stay away from saturated fats.
Who else wants to get rid of those stubborn body fats, lose weight and maintain a healthy body?
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But nothing seems to work for you?
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Cholesterol is produced by the liver and is a fat-like waxy substance. Although cholesterol is usually thought of as a "bad thing", the truth is that cholesterol is important to your overall health and helps body function. Every one of your cells within your body is supported by good cholesterol. When cholesterol gets old or if it goes bad then level becomes elevated, it can be dangerous. The "good" cholesterol helps to get the bad cholesterol back down to safe levels. Whenever the bad (LDL & VLDL) cholesterol level climbs higher it becomes a serious situation. Untreated it can contribute to severe health problems including stroke, kidney damage, diabetes mellitus, and heart disease. People with uncontrolled "bad" cholesterol are three times more likely to have a heart attack, they are six times more susceptible to develop congestive hear failure, people with high cholesterol will be seven times more likely to have an ischemic stroke. People with high cholesterol may need to take cholesterol blockers to lower their cholesterol.
Since television reception would be a bit limited we would have to content ourselves with more conversation. What would we talk about?
If you are into natural herbs and remedies, you can go to your favorite health food store and buy natural cholesterol blockers. Of course Green Tea* is a very good cholesterol blocker too?
Green tea is rich in a class of polyphenols (polyphenols give the plant its color) known as catechins (pronounced kat-a-kins). The strongest catechin in green tea is known as epigallocatechin gallate. We'll call it EGCG to make life easier. When your body wants to burn fat, it releases a substance known as norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is one of the sparks that lights the fat burning fire. However, norepinephrine has a limited lifespan in your body. That's where EGCG helps. By keeping norepinephrine alive for longer, EGCG can help your body burn more fat, making it an excellent cholesterol blockers.
Lead researchers believe that caffeine and EGCG (both found in green tea) work together to prolong the life of norepinephrine. These researchers also believe that green tea extract, "has the ability to influence body weight and body composition via changes in both energy expenditure and substrate utilization." This is why green tea makes good cholesterol blockers. The green tea in this study provided 50mg of caffeine and 90mg of EGCG per serving. Subjects took three servings daily. Green Tea is also a superior antioxidant, antiviral and ulcer protective. Increases mental awareness, fights fatigue, helps diminish appetite and regulates blood sugar.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Restricted caloric intake and a good exercise program is required to lose weight.
As with any type of health issue, make sure you speak with your doctor about taking any kind of medicine, even herbal cholesterol blockers. Certain vitamins and prescription drugs do not do well together and may cause serious damage to your system. You want to get better, not make things worse. Take care of your health and live happy.
LeAnna is an expert author who writes for Cholesterol Blocker
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