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For many people in the Caribbean the word cholesterol is often linked with chronic diseases and is mostly considered unhealthy. Yet cholesterol plays a very important role in how our bodies function. What then is cholesterol?

In a few words …It is a waxy material produced by the liver. In the body, Cholesterol makes cell membranes, insulates our nerves, and supplies certain hormones. The big problem is that our bodies make adequate cholesterol for our use and additional amounts are not necessary. But when we eat animal products, they add to what is already in our body. These sources of unwanted cholesterol include meats, poultry, fish, and dairy products.

Excessive cholesterol in the blood can result in cardiovascular diseases that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Our hearts receive oxygen from arteries carrying blood. If the arteries narrow or are blocked, however, the heart will be deprived of life-giving oxygen, leading to chest pain or heart attack. Heart attack may occur when plaque ruptures and blood clots are formed that block or cut off blood supply to the heart.

Not all cholesterol is bad. The high-density lipoprotein or HDL is made by our bodies and help reduce risk of heart attacks. The bad cholesterol is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that can clog arteries and cause heart attack and stroke.

Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, results in the cholesterol mixing with other materials to form plaque and build up deposits on the walls of our arteries, causing them to harden. This build up makes arteries narrow and slows the flow of blood to the heart.

There are a couple of ways you can go about securing the perfect method for you. To do this, you’ll have to consider your vacation lifestyle, needs, desires and personality. Being an adventurous traveler doesn’t necessarily mean exploring the mountaintops and caves in every corner of the world.

To enjoy a healthy heart we must lower blood cholesterol by eating more fiber and foods low in saturated fat. Foods such as Grace Oats are low in fat, high in fiber and help to reduce cholesterol. Oats are also full of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and thiamine.

Scientists believe oats are very good for us, linked to reducing the “bad” cholesterol while maintaining the “good” cholesterol within our bodies. The fiber in oats makes us feel fuller longer and provide long lasting energy throughout the day and especially good for diabetics as it helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day. What are you doing to understand and control you cholesterol level? Let’s hear them in the comments

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1 Comment »

Comment by Dan
2007-12-13 15:11:07

🙂 Excellent public-service article, Chris.

I have coronary artery disease. Like most American men, I gained a pound a year after marrying. By 30 years married, I was in trouble. I hardly drink, never smoked, and don’t run around or gamble, and had rationalized that eating would not hurt me.

Perhaps not, but my diet choices did. I favored fatty snacks, butter, cheese, red meats, ice cream, and so on.

Fortunately, I felt the symptoms of angina and contacted a doctor, who immediately sent me to a cardiologist. The cardiologist performed an angiogram and both he and I could see my life was hanging by a thread. My left anterior descending coronary artery was 99% blocked, my right coronary artery was 90% blocked, and my circumflex coronary artery was 75% blocked. It was a miracle that I’d not had a heart attack. My total cholesterol was 240.

I now have seven (7!) coronary stents (some after restentosis because they pre-date the drug-coated stents). But I maintain a blood total cholesterol level of 160 (usually lower) with low LDL and high HDL; also low triglicerides.

Living in Dominica helps: I can eat fish and skinless chicken breast and pork with the fat trimmed off, and also fruits and vegetables in abundance. And, I can avoid those deadly saturated fats and even deadlier trans-fats in packaged foods. I can and do get plenty of exercise, good both for cardiac conditioning and for raising the HDL level.

 
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