Take Control of Your Cholesterol


Health Editor’s Note: Atherosclerosis is a build-up of plaques in the walls of the arteries which cuts down the ability of blood to flow freely through the vessels. Plaque can break loose and lodge in vessels and thus decrease flow of oxygenated blood to area and increase change of tissue death.  Cutting adequate flow of oxygenated blood to heart muscle will cause a portion of the heart muscle to die (heart attack/myocardial infarction).

Your job is to focus on good fats and stay away from harmful ones. There are several types of fats and then there is the fat your body makes by taking in extra calories.  Dietary fats are found in food and provide the energy your body needs.  Fat is necessary for some body functions and some vitamins must have fat to dissolve so the body can use them.  Some dietary fats do contribute to cardiovascular disease

Unhealthy fats are saturated fat (from animal sources such as  red meat, poultry, full-fat dairy) and these raise your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol and these can increase risk for cardiovascular disease.  Another type of unhealthy fat is trans fat which comes from oils that came from a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. Trans fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL cholesterol.  This can increase risk for cardiovascular disease.  

These types of fat are solid at room temperature: pork fat, beef fat, coconut oil, stick margarine, and shortening. 

Healthy fats are unsaturated:  Monounsaturated fatty acids  (liquid at room temperatures) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (plant-based foods and oils), olive oil, safflower oil, cannola oil, peanut, corn, and sunflower oils.  Also omega-3 fatty acids: trout, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.  Replacements for fish oil (krill or plant-based) have not been proven to have the same effects. Also flaxseed (ground) oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds, and butternuts.

Avoid trans fats, check food label and know that by law a serving containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fats can be labeled as ) grams.  Check ingredient list for the term partially hydrogenated. Use oil, not solid fats.   Saute in olive oil, not butter, use canola when baking. Bake or broil fish, no frying. More fish, less meat. If meat choose lean pieces and no skin on chicken. Check labels on snack foods, but better to have fresh vegetables and fruits..  

Again, avoid trans fats, replace saturated fat with mono saturated and polysaturated fats. Less that 10% of calories from saturated fat per day. 

Stay away from processed food that say they are low fat, or fat free if it keep you from eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes.

This would be your basic leaning toward fats.  As for specific diets, they might be more designed for that particular group of people.  There is a lot of positive talk about the Mediterranean diet: olive oil, fresh natural, seasonal products, pasta, bread, cereals which are all high carbohydrate and not good for diabetics, fresh fruit for desert, cheese, yogurt every day, fish, poultry, eggs, decrease red meat and animal fat, water to drink with maybe a glass of red wine, herbs instead of salt.. 

Inuit diet: for hunter/gatherers who have restricted foods available due to environment.  less than 40% or diet is protein based, 50% of calories are from fat, fish, omega-3 fatty acids, wild mammals. Vitamin C from kelp,which also has magnesium, calcium, iron, folate.  Bone marrow, brains, organ meats which have vitamins A , B vitamins, and iron.

Your doctor is the best person to talk any of these concerns over with you…..Carol

strong>Protect Yourself from Heart Attack and Stroke

by National Institutes of Health/News in Health

Have you had your cholesterol checked? Most adults should have a cholesterol test every 4 to 6 years. That’s because nearly 78 million American adults have high levels of the type of cholesterol that’s linked to heart disease and stroke.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs to function properly. It travels through your bloodstream to reach the cells that need it. Your cells use cholesterol for many important functions, like making hormones and digesting fatty foods.

But too much cholesterol in your blood can cause waxy buildup called plaques in blood vessels. “These plaques can eventually become inflamed and rupture, leading to a clot,” explains cholesterol expert Dr. Ronald Krauss at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

If a clot blocks blood flow through an artery in the heart, it can cause a heart attack. “Or, if this happens in the artery of the brain, it can cause a stroke,” he says.

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in particles called lipoproteins. There are different types of lipoproteins that have different effects.

Low-density lipoproteins, or LDLs, contribute to plaques. LDL cholesterol is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol.

“Many people in this country have too many of these LDL particles in the blood,” Krauss says. Studies have found that lowering LDL cholesterol levels reduces heart disease and stroke.

The most common cause of high LDL cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. Excess body weight and eating a lot of animal fats are linked to high levels of LDL cholesterol. The genes that you inherit from your parents, other medical conditions, and certain medicines can also cause high cholesterol.

You may also have heard about “good” cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins, or HDL. HDL particles absorb cholesterol and carry it to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. That’s why scientists previously thought that raising levels of HDL cholesterol might lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

But recent research suggests that HDL cholesterol works better in some people than others. And clinical trials haven’t found that medicines aimed at raising HDL cholesterol reduce the risk of heart attack. There’s still a lot to learn about HDL.

Lab tests can measure the different types of cholesterol in your blood. How often you should get tested depends on your age and other risk factors, including a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.

If tests show that you have a high level of LDL cholesterol, your doctor may order additional tests. You can try to lower it by eating a heart-healthy diet, being physically active, and losing excess weight.

For some people, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower LDL cholesterol. Your biological makeup can be a strong influence on cholesterol buildup, too. In these cases, a type of drug known as a statin is the usual treatment. Doctors may combine statins with other drugs.

If your LDL cholesterol is very high, Krauss says it’s important that your family members get tested, too. If your genes put you at risk for high cholesterol, your close relatives might have a similar risk.

Talk to your doctor about getting tested. And remember that heart-healthy lifestyle changes can not only lower cholesterol levels but also bring many long-term health benefits.

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  1. Carol, the simplest and best dietary advice that I’ve heard is to eat the same foods as did our great grandparents. Go around the outside in the grocery store and avoid the processed foods in the middle of the store.

  2. So, just as in many other areas of science, medicine is subjected to corporate influence, institutional bias and inertia, dogmas etc. I refer anyone interested in the cholesterol issue to view:


    …and then do a search on ‘high cholesterol’ on http://www.dietdoctor.com

    They are totally free from corporate influence. You will hear and read ‘the rest of the story’.
    There is new science that shows the old science is not only wrong, but dangerously so.

    Personally, I ignore all dietary advice from the ‘gubment’: I turn the food pyramid upside down and eat to satiety. Skip breakfast and I maintain a healthy weight.
    Not to offend anyone here, but in my experiment on myself, I maintain a healthy body weight easily on low carb. When I splurge on processed carbs I balloon up. I do have natural carbs sometimes, such as sweet potatoes. I don’t test or care about any of my ‘numbers’. People have lived for thousands (or however long) without knowing jack about their numbers. I feel fine and can’t afford health insurance anyway. That has probably saved my life.

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