Cholesterol Confusion?

Does cholesterol confuse you? It's really very simple. Listen...
Cholesterol is a compound that your body uses to build cell membranes, manufacture hormones, and make bile acids, which are used for digestion. Cholesterol is found only in foods that come from animals (meat, eggs, milk, etc.). Even if you don't eat any animal foods, your liver will manufacture a certain amount of cholesterol on its own.

Once cholesterol is eaten or made, the liver takes it and connects it to a carrier, which brings the cholesterol to the cells of the body that need it. The whole process is kind of like putting a bunch of cholesterol in a cab and sending it to many destinations. There are two basic types of cholesterol carriers: HDL and LDL. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to other body cells. HDL does the opposite, carrying extra cholesterol back to the liver for processing. The cholesterol that ends up back in the liver gets made into hormones and bile acids. This is why HDL is called "good" cholesterol--it takes the cholesterol out of circulation. LDL is called "bad" cholesterol because it makes cholesterol available to be picked up by body cells, including the cells of your arterial walls. That is what causes areterial blockage.

So, how to lower your cholesterol? Cutting down on the amount of cholesterol you eat helps some. Dietary fiber helps a lot, especially soluble fiber. Soluble fiber binds up those bile acids in your intestine and causes them to be excreted. So then your liver has to use up cholesterol to make more bile acids. Without fiber, bile acids are not excreted, but are reabsorbed and recycled.

That's it!

Erica Joy, Nutrition Editor & Consultant

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Health & Nutrition

Fruits and Veggies

You know you should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily for better health, but does it seem really difficult? Try these painless suggestions to get more plants into your diet:
  • Add a banana, peach, or some berries to your morning cereal.
  • Put lettuce, sprouts, onion, and tomatoes on your sandwich at lunch.
  • Order a salad with dinner when you go out to eat.
  • Chop up your veggies as soon as you get home to make for more convenient cooking later.
  • Make a fruit salad and keep it in your refrigerator for snacking.
  • Buy only 100% juices instead of juice cocktails.
  • Grate carrots or zucchini into your spaghetti sauce. (You can't taste it!)
    This will make a difference! Remember, a serving equals 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, 1 cup of raw vegetables, 1 medium piece of fruit, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, or 3/4 cup (6 oz.) of juice.
    Good luck, and eat well!

    Erica Joy, Nutrition Editor & Consultant

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