Cholesterol High Foods and Heart Disease

If there is one word that is associated with potentially life threatening health issues it is cholesterol. There are numerous TV and print advertisements espousing the benefits of the latest cholesterol reducing drug and for good reasons. High levels of this naturally occurring substance are associated with increased risks of heart disease and stroke. Knowing this has caused many people to avoid cholesterol high foods in their attempt to mitigate the harmful effects it can cause.

But just what is cholesterol and where does it come from ?

Cholesterol, unbeknownst to many, is actually produced by the body, mostly in the liver, and is necessary for proper bodily functioning. In fact roughly 80% is made by the body with the other 20% coming from dietary sources. Or at least that’s the way it used to be. With our more "fast food" dietary lifestyle cholesterol has become a major health care issue.

Without cholesterol our bodies would be unable to function properly. It is primarily used to make cell membranes and makes them stable and durable. It is particularly important in the formation of nerve tissue, brain cells, and the spinal cord. It is also used to make bile which is an important part of the digestive process in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. And certain hormones would not be able to be made without it.

Unfortunately our modern diet has given us to much of a good thing. While high cholesterol foods such as meat, eggs, and whole fat dairy products should be eaten in moderation it is the preponderance of foods high in saturated fats and Transfats that are the bigger culprits. Fried foods, snack foods, processed foods in a box, and just about anything containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils all fall into this category.

In fact scientific studies have shown that foods high in these types of fat have a greater impact in blood cholesterol levels then eating just foods that are high in cholesterol. This does not mean that eating a diet of high cholesterol foods is a good idea but it is more important that you avoid the saturated fat and Transfats that are so common in our diet these days.

As cholesterol levels build up in the blood stream they get to the point where the body cannot use all of it. When this happens it will start to deposit along the arterial walls creating plaques and causing atherosclerosis, which is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries. These plaques can cause blockages in blood flow which can lead to a heart attack or they can break free as a clot and get lodged in the smaller vessels of the brain causing a stroke.

Maintaining normal cholesterol levels through a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes exercise is the best way to prevent these risks. Just remember that cholesterol is a necessary substance we all need but it is important to eat cholesterol high foods in moderation and avoid those foods that are in high saturated fats and Transfats to avoid the risk of heart disease.

by Andrew Bicknell

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