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All Posts in Category: Healthy Info

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Cholesterol Blog ~ Part I

Let’s start with, what exactly is cholesterol; it’s a yellowish, wax-like substance looking much like fat.About 25% of our cholesterol comes from our diet (animal products) while the rest is manufactured by our liver.The body, more specifically the liver produces about 1000mg a day while your diet supplies about another 500 to 900mg.This is two to three times more than what is needed.This substance called cholesterol travels from the liver through the bloodstream to the cells.The cells take what they need and the rest remains in the bloodstream. Our diet should be limited to contributing about 300mg a day.Now don’t frown and say that you aren’t going to watch every thing you eat.It can be done with very little thought. Becoming aware of foods is the first step, exercise is the next, and the third is reducing that all to common Stress.

Does it do anything? Yes, remember, it’s found in all of your cells, primarily as a structural component of cell membranes, and yes, it has many vital functions. Cholesterol is used to help in the formation of Bile Salts, Vitamin D and is stored in your adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries; it serves as a precursor molecule for hormones; such as sex hormones, androgens, and estrogens. Adrenal corticoids (including cortisol, corticosterone, and aldosterone).

Cholesterol in the liver functions as the precursor of bile acids, which, when secreted into the intestine, aid in the digestion of your food, especially fats. It is abundant in the brain and nervous system as well. It is the major sterol in the human body and is found throughout the animal kingdom and with very little found in plants, but what is found there is called phytosterols.

Bile (a fat emulsifier) is made by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the digestive tract to break down fats consumed. This bile transports the cholesterol from the body through your bowel movement (which must be every day if not twice, at least once)

Which brings us to the ultimate question; what level is adequate in the body and when is it too high? Before we answer that lets complicate it a little more by saying cholesterol is not just cholesterol but we have good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is insoluble in water and so it must attach to a protein to be carried through the bloodstream. This combination of cholesterol linked to a protein is called a lipoprotein.

A lipoprotein with a large amount of protein is your “good” cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) which is a dense, compact microparticle that transports excess cholesterol to the liver, where it is altered and expelled in the bile. In a more general sense your HDL’s help remove cholesterol from the blood, preventing it from piling up in the arteries. You can look at this in another way, this one is higher in protein and lower in cholesterol.

The lipoprotein carrying a large amount of cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol; your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which is a larger, less dense particle that tends to remain in the body, thus promoting the coagulation in the bloodstream and the high cholesterol effect. This one is higher in cholesterol and lower in protein.

But we should also mention the VLDLs (very low-density lipoproteins) which are molecules that transport “triglycerides”, chemical compounds that store fatty acids, an essential source of energy for the body. But…..these triglycerides are a type of blood fat, they travel with the cholesterol and if they are to high in quantity resulting in high levels of triglycerides they will cause the blood cells to stick together, thus reducing circulation, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke!

Okay, you’re saying what about the cholesterol level, what should your cholesterol level be? Did you know that cholesterol levels start to rise by the age of 20, with rising more sharply by the age of 40 and continuing to increase until around the age of 60. A desirable total cholesterol level for adults without heart disease is lower than 200 mg/dl (or 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood). A level of 240 mg/dl or higher is considered high blood cholesterol.

Say you have cholesterol levels in the borderline high category (200 to 239 mg/dl), which can still increase the risk of heart disease, but if your HDL’s are high this will decrease your risk. Are you confused again?

Let’s put it this way. When your cholesterol is tested, they should also test the levels of your HDL’s and your LDL’s. Remember your HDL’s carry the unwanted LDL’s from the body, these are the “good guys” and you want this number to be higher. A HDL level lower than 35 is a major risk factor for heart disease. A HDL level of 60 or higher is considered protective. Also remember a high triglyceride number also increases the risk of heart disease because these are causing your cells to stick together. They usually test this level as well. Our blood cells are supposed to flow individually through our bloodstream. Which, if you think about it increases oxygen flow through the body and influences circulation resulting in increased memory, increased warmth, and healthier lungs.

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Cholesterol Blog ~ Part II ~ Foods and Herbs

Now that the function and importance of cholesterol has been covered let’s move on to Part II. What foods and herbs can help with this all important function? Are you thinking….do I have to cut out fats in my diet, because so many say a diet high in fats is not good? The answer to that is what kinds of fats are you eating.

Let’s start there. Fats: stored fats are a highly concentrated form of energy, excess is stored in the liver, the arteries, around the heart, and other tissues. It lubricates the intestines, combines with phosphorus to form a substance that helps to build tissues and body cells. Fat can stay in the digestive tract for longer periods of time, giving us that full feeling. About ½ of our total body fat is found under our skin, called subcutaneous fat, providing our body with insulation and helps it to maintain its proper temperature. Fats generate body heat, soothe the nerves and coat them with a protective shield. It is in all body cells and helps to break down our “fat-soluble” vitamins A, D, E, and K. Lastly fat is necessary for many of the body’s metabolic functions. We all know what happens when there is too much fat in the body, it does have its purpose but too much is unhealthy.

What does all that mean, you say? Most of us northerners are carnivores, we love our meat. Because our LDL’s come mainly, let’s say all of them from animal products, it would be beneficial for high cholesterol levels to reduce meat intake while increasing your fruit, vegetable, and grain intake. I’m not saying go vegetarian, simply instead of a 16oz steak how about an 8 oz one, or 6? Instead of a ½ of a chicken how about a wing and leg or a single breast piece. Have a well rounded meat intake, fish is wonderful and of course very high in omega oils.

Let’s take a closer look at the cholesterol content in common foods:

Cholesterol(in mg) Amount Food
5 1 cup Milk, skim, pwd milk
7 ½ cup Cottage cheese, uncreamed
20 1 oz Cream, light
24 ½ cup Cottage cheese, creamed
26 ¼ cup Half and half
27 ½ cup Ice cream, regular, about 10% fat
28 1 oz Cheddar Cheese
34 1 cup Whole milk
35 1 tbsp Butter
40 3 oz cooked Oysters, salmon
55 3 oz cooked Clams, halibut, tuna
67 3 oz cooked Chicken, Turkey (light meat)
75 3 oz cooked Beef, Pork, Lobster, Chicken or Turkey, (dark meat)
85 3 oz cooked Lamb, Veal, Crab (we shouldn’t be eating these babies anyway) except

the Crab

130 3 oz cooked Shrimp
230 3 oz cooked Heart – beef
250 1 yolk or 1 egg Egg
370 3 oz cooked Liver – beef, calf, pork, or lamb. Not more babies!!
680 3 oz cooked Kidney
Over 1700 3 oz raw Brains

A triglyceride consists of three fatty acids connected to one molecule of glycerol. Saturated fatty acids, Monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. All natural foods contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated Fatty Acids: solid at room temperature, found mainly in meat, other sources include whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, chocolate, coconut and palm oil. These raise cholesterol.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: are found in peanuts, peanut butter and oil, avocados, olives and olive oil, most nuts including cashews, pecans, and Brazil nuts. These have an effect on reducing total cholesterol, especially olive oil. They tend to have a profound effect on reducing the LDL’s (low-density lipoproteins) while leaving the HDL’s (high-density lipoproteins) untouched. These do not turn rancid as fast as polyunsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: usually liquid at room temperature, abundant in plant oils like corn, safflower, cotton seed, and sunflower oil, and in salad dressings made from these oils. Hydrogenation is a processing method that is done to these oils to make them into margarines or shortenings. This process decreases the amount of linoleic acid present in the fat, which is an acid that must be present in the body and the body does not produce it like the other fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids do have a tendency to reduce the total cholesterol.

My take on these fats is to only partake of the healthier ones, ones easily digested by the liver and utilized in the body for more beneficial over all health. Olive Oil, Butter in moderation.

Okay time to move on to the foods and herbs that will help to lower cholesterol. Eating healthy is the simple thing to do. Here are some foods to cook with plus they add some very yummy flavors to your foods. Cayenne Pepper, Fenugreek, Ginger, Caraway, Garlic, and Onions are foods that create healthy ways to bring down cholesterol levels while also improving heart function.

Fiber foods can lower cholesterol, eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables rich in fiber along with whole grains are very beneficial. Here are some fiber food suggestions.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fiber
Apple 1 medium 3.5
Grapefruit 1 medium 3.2
Pear (with skin) ½ large 3.1
Raisins ¼ cup 3.1
Raspberries ½ cup 3.1
Strawberries 1 cup 3.0
Prunes 3 3.0
Orange 1 medium 2.6
Banana 1 medium 2.4

 

Vegetable Serving Size Grams of Fiber
Parsnip 1 cup 3.5
Brussels Sprouts 1 cup 3.2
Carrots 1 cup 3.1
Broccoli 1 cup 3.1
Spinach 1 cup 3.1
Zucchini 1 cup 3.0
Sweet Potato 1 medium 3.0
Green Beans 1 cup 2.6
Corn ½ cup 2.4

 

Legumes Serving Size Grams of Fiber
Baked Beans ½ cup 8.8
Kidney Beans ½ cup 7.3
Navy Beans ½ cup 6.0
Lentils ½ cup 6.0
Dried Peas (cooked) ½ cup 4.7
Lima Beans ½ cup 3.7

 

Cereals Serving Size Grams of Fiber
All-Bran 1/3 cup 8.5
Corn Bran 2/3 cup 5.4
Bran Chex 2/3 cup 4.6
Raisin Bran 2.3 cup 4.0

Oats and Barley are other great sources of fiber, with barley containing up to three times more beta-glucans than oats, and as the table above shows beans. Beta-glucans being the component of oat bran that lowers cholesterol.

When eating the citrus, eat that inside white stuff which contains fiber pectin. Did you know that eating just 2 carrots a day can lower levels of cholesterol by 10 to 20%.

Avocados, nuts and more herbs like Guggul, (a member of the Myrrh family), Alfalfa, Turmeric, and Korean Ginseng are known to help bring your cholesterol down.

Here is a general guideline for lowering Cholesterol and your LDL’s

  • Decrease total fats in the diet
  • Decrease saturated fats in the diet
  • Increase essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated)
  • Use more monounsaturated oil, Olive
  • Increase fiber
  • Increase complex carbohydrates
  • Decrease caffeine and nicotine
  • Add a few supplements such as “food based” vitamin B6, B3, C, chromium, essential fatty acids
  • Include garlic in the diet preferably with fresh or a take a supplement

Tips to increase the HDL’s (which chase the LDL’s out of the body)

  • Regular exercise
  • Do not smoke
  • Loose weight
  • Adding supplements like essential fatty acids, niacin, fiber, garlic, L-carnitine

There is my take on Cholesterol; it can be detrimental if not taken care of meaning a heart attack. But on the bright side it’s only telling you to take care of yourself, eat healthy, cook from scratch, not out of a box. Eat your vegetables and fruits, lower your red meats if cholesterol is high drink plenty of water and talk a 30 minute walk every day.

If you are on a medication and want to go off of it, its your choice, your body, so take care of it so you can.If your cholesterol is down to a good number, you can wean yourself off the medication.Then start eating healthy by using this information and you will keep your cholesterol down and have a healthy happy heart and life.

~~ Say Your Prayers ~~ Eat Well ~~ Live Healthy ~~ Be Happy ~~ Laugh A Lot ~~

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