Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all our body’s cells. It constitutes an important part of a healthy body because it’s used for producing cell membranes, bile which aids in digestion of foods, and some hormones, and serves other needed bodily functions. However too high a level of cholesterol in the blood is a major risk for Heart Attack and Stroke Cholesterol and other fats are transported to and from the cells of the body by special carriers called lipoproteins. There are two kinds that you need to know about. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as the “bad” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can clog your arteries, increasing your risk of Heart Attack and Stroke. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as the “good” cholesterol. Our body makes HDL cholesterol for our protection. It carries cholesterol away from the arteries. Studies suggest that high levels of HDL cholesterol reduce the risk of heart attack. Hypercholesterolemia is the term for high levels of blood cholesterol in the body. You get cholesterol in two ways. Your body makes most of it, and the rest comes from the food we eat.
Cholesterol in Foods: Cholesterol can be found in foods of animal origin such as meats and organ meats (liver, gizzard), poultry, fish, eggs, butter, beef tallow, lard, cheese and whole milk. Food from plants such as fruits, vegetables and cereals is cholesterol free. All pure vegetable oils are naturally cholesterol free. Vegetable oil brands that have cholesterol free claim adverts or on- pack labeling are only blowing their trumpets about an intrinsic property which is common to all pure vegetable oils.
Tips on lowering blood cholesterol:
Ø Get your blood lipids checked (ask your physician about it)
Ø Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight/obese try seeking professional help in losing weight healthily.
Ø Be active. Regular physical activity tends to increase the good blood cholesterol (HDL) and lowers the bad blood cholesterol (LDL)
Ø Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
Ø Use fatty foods in moderation and eat more of foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol
Ø Read food labels and watch out for hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenated fat is a source of trans fat and tends to increase your blood cholesterol