The myth of cholesterol - the bad and the good
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.
What do the Cholesterol Numbers 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.
|cholesterol categories:||health 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.
Can vitamin E protect your heart?
Vitamin E is an important vitamin found in leafy vegetables, nuts, and vegetable oils. It was previously believed that a Vitamin E supplement could reduce the risk of heart disease, but several studies in the last few years have shown that this supplement does little to prevent heart attacks or strokes.
Top 5 superfoods to lower cholesterol
- Oatmeal and Oat Bran: These contain a high amount of soluble fiber, which can lower LDL.
- Fish: Fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which lowers LDL and raises HDL.
- Nuts: Not only are nuts high in fiber, but they contain the healthy fats you need to keep LDL in check.
- 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%.
- Soy: This popular meat replacement can lower LDL by up to 3%.
Health benefits of plant sterols
You can find plant sterols in many foods, such as fat free milk, granola bars, VitaTops Muffin Tops, and Benecol Spread. If you eat enough plant sterols, you can certainly help your heart - but it won't completely cancel out the effects of a diet loaded with saturated fat. If you eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and eat plant sterols; then your cholesterol will be under control in no time.