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The Link Between Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the membranes of cells. It is carried in the blood plasma of animals. It is an important component of cells for maintaining water and energy. Cholesterol is necessary to produce fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin A. Bile acid and steroid hormones also require cholesterol. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Both high cholesterol and high LDL (bad cholesterol) are risk factors that can be controlled by diet and exercise. Good cholesterol or HDL can also be controlled. Other manageable risk factors that must be addressed for good heart health include inactivity, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking. Uncontrollable risk factors include a family history of heart disease and age.
Cholesterol is not found in plant foods unless it is added during food preparation. However, some foods such as peanuts and flax seeds contain compounds that resemble cholesterol. These are called phytosterols. It is believed that this group of compounds will help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Another point to keep in mind is that cholesterol intake is less important in serum cholesterol levels, than dietary fat intake. This is especially true where trans fat and saturated fat levels are disproportionately high.
There is no magic bullet for lowering blood cholesterol levels. However, there are natural products that you can use to improve good cholesterol, reduce bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in your blood. Products are foods that are good for your health anyway. These are some techniques you can use to help control your blood cholesterol.
You can start by adding soy products, oat bran and whole grains to the foods you eat on a daily basis. These foods will improve your health as they reduce the risk of heart attack. You will feel better and may have additional benefits as you lose weight. Diabetes is another risk factor that can be reduced when you make better nutritional choices. You can add sunflower seeds for snacks instead of other choices. Nuts like walnuts and almonds can be included in a salad or used as a topping for grilled chicken.
Adding healthy foods to your diet is one part of preventing coronary heart disease. You should also eliminate foods that add unhealthy fats and other substances to your diet. No more donuts, ice cream or pizza is a goal that will be better for your overall health.
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