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Cholesterol is a fatty substance, and it is a type of saturated fat. While cholesterol is mainly found in animal fat, the human body can also produce cholesterol for its own needs. Most cases of heart attack are caused by an accumulation of cholesterol deposits in blood vessels, which leads to vasoconstriction and arteriosclerosis. If vascular obstruction and rupture occur in the brain, one suffers from stroke; if they occur in the heart, one suffers from a heart attack.

A blood test can determine blood cholesterol levels. There are two kinds of cholesterols- The “bad” cholesterol, LDL, and the “good” cholesterol, HDL. The bad cholesterol deposits and accumulates in blood vessels, while the good cholesterol protects blood vessels and prevents bad cholesterol accumulation. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, the average person should maintain his or her total blood cholesterol level lower than 200 mg/dL and his bad cholesterol level lower than 130 mg/dL. The standards become stricter for people with certain diseases; one with diabetes should keep his bad cholesterol level lower than 100 mg/dL, and one with heart diseases should keep his under 70 mg/dL.

Here are some ways to lower your cholesterol levels:

1. Exercise- physical activities, especially aerobic exercises, can increase your good cholesterol level, preventing vascular obstruction.

2. Medication- many medications for lowering cholesterol have side effects, and once you start taking them, it is not recommended to halt the medications unless there are extenuating circumstances. Therefore, people with high cholesterol levels should first manage their diets and improve their exercise habits; only when a healthful diet and improved exercising habits fail to regulate one’s cholesterol levels should one consider taking such medications.

3. Manage your diet- avoid foods high in animal fat; examples of such foods are chicken skin, lard and butter. Minimize your consumption of foods that contain coconut oil and palm oil, and choose foods that have little saturated fat and no trans fat.

4. Eat food high in fiber, because fiber aids the lowering of cholesterol levels.

5. Do not heat olive oil because it has a low smoke point; it is only good for mixing salads.

6. Pay attention to nutrition labels and avoid fatty foods.

7. Your body produces cholesterol at night, so avoid heavy dinners and late night snacks.



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