Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is closely related to the development of blocked arteries. The level of cholesterol in the blood can be managed, minimizing the risks of it causing such problems. There is more than one type of cholesterol molecule in the body – high "bad" cholesterol increases the risk of developing clogged arteries, a heart attack or stroke. Low "good" cholesterol can do the same. [Cholesterol: The Facts]. Treatments now exist that have been proven to lower the risks of heart attacks and strokes by 25-40%. Knowing your cholesterol is the first step in making the appropriate responses. Even if your levels are normal, you should have your total cholesterol and "good" cholesterol ("HDL") checked every 5 years.

Remember, the lower your cholesterol, the lower your risk – there is no absolute "normal". When you do lower your cholesterol, check out these benefits:

Diet and exercise can produce a substantial improvement in your cholesterol level and risk of developing blocked arteries and other diseases. A reasonable low fat diet is easier than you think. You can still have your favorite foods. The new food label makes understanding your fat and other nutrient intake much easier. You can learn to eat a healthier diet using this as a guide. [New Food label]. You can still eat out at fine restaurants – you will need to develop a little "food sense" and make good choices. "Eat 5 to stay alive" refers to the number of fresh fruits and vegetables you should eat daily. The "Food Pyramid" outlines a sensible overall eating plan that allows plenty of the foods you already enjoy.[link: food pyramid]

Medications, while not necessary for everyone, are very effective, and offer some of the greatest benefits of "modern science". There are a number of options which are well tolerated with minimal side effects [ High Cholesterol: Treatment].

What are the numbers?

If you do not already have blocked arteries, aim for:

If you do already have blocked arteries, the goals are considerably lower

You should aim for a total fat intake of between 45 - 90 grams daily depending on your size between 100 and 200 pounds, and your activity level. Less than one-third of your fat intake should be from saturated fat. You should aim for a cholesterol intake of less than 300 mg daily. That’s really quite a bit in terms of most foods, but is the content of one large egg.

©COPY;1997 HeartPoint   Updated September 1997

There’s really a lot more if you’re still interested in discovering it --Links to Cholesterol section

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