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Learning the “ABC” of Cholesterol

Por Carola Sixto, Editor, HolaDoctor -

The higher your cholesterol levels, the greater risk of suffering a heart attack or developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

What is cholesterol? 
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that begins to accumulate on the walls of the arteries. Over time, this generates a tightening of the arteries, which may even clog. Consequently, blood flow slows down or becomes completely blocked.

Since blood carries oxygen to the heart, insufficient blood and oxygen may cause chest pain. If an area of the heart doesn’t receive any blood, a heart attack occurs.

Diet and exercise are essential To reduce cholesterol levels, it is essential to make some lifestyle changes. This includes diet, physical activity, and weight control.

•  Diet:There should be less than 7% calories from saturated fats and less than 200 mg of cholesterol in a daily diet. The goal is to eat enough calories to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight gain. In cases where the level of LDL (low density lipoprotein), which carries cholesterol to the arteries, remains high, you should increase your intake of  soluble fiber. You can find it in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cereals.

Recommended foods:Fat free or 1%-fat dairies, lean meats, skinless chicken or turkey, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, soft margarines that have less saturated fat and no trans fat. To add extra fiber to your diet, choose oatmeal, fruits (like oranges and pears), vegetables (like brussels sprouts and carrots), dried peas, and beans.
Foods to limit: All products that are high in cholesterol, like liver, organic meat, egg yolk, and regular dairies (those that are not reduced in fat).

• Physical activity:It is recommended to  exercise regularly, during 30 minutes, on every or most days of the week. This is essential for people with overweight or a large waist diameter, those with high triglycerides or low HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Since cholesterol is a “silent enemy” (there are no symptoms), after age 20 it is important to have at least one medical check-up every five years.

Source: National Cholesterol Education Program / U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES


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