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Dangers of High Cholesterol

By: Bert Griffith

Date Posted: 2000-10-13

High blood cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease¾the leading cause of death among Americans. What is cholesterol and why is it so dangerous? Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance produced by the body and is needed to make cell membrane (insulation) and to produce male and female hormones.

The liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Excess cholesterol¾obtained from a diet high in animal fat¾can settle in vital arteries, blocking blood flow to the brain or heart and leading to a stroke or heart attack. What’s a normal cholesterol blood level? All adults 18 years or older should have the following desirable blood cholesterol values:

·Total cholesterol: 200 mg/dL

·HDL (good) cholesterol >35 mg/dL

·LDL (bad) cholesterol <150 mg/dL

HDL (H=high) is the good cholesterol; you want this one to be high because it actually removes bad cholesterol out of the blood stream before it settles in the arteries. The LDL (L=low) is the bad cholesterol; you want this one to be low because it has a tendency to settle in and clog your arteries. Aerobic exercise such as walking effectively raises HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol levels.

Healthy adults should consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Persons with heart disease should reduce their daily cholesterol intake to 200 milligrams per day. The following list delineates some common foods and their cholesterol and fat contents:


Food Cholesterol Fat

(milligrams) (grams)

CroissanwichÒ with sausage 250 42

and cheese (Burger King®)

Egg McMuffinÒ 235 12

(McDonald’s®)

Burrito Supreme® 35 19

(Taco Bell®)

Okinawa Soba noodles (½ cup cooked) 0 trace

To ensure a low intake of cholesterol, eat a diet low in fat¾especially saturated fat¾and cholesterol. Foods high in fats include red meat, eggs, butter, cheese and whole milk. On the other hand, fish (especially cold-water fish like mackerel, tuna or salmon) are low in saturated fat and contain Omega-3 fatty acids that actually lower cholesterol in the blood stream.

Additionally, food from plants like fruits, vegetables, and cereals are high in fiber and do not have cholesterol. Fiber from such foods as apples, oranges, oat bran, and beans has been shown to lower cholesterol.

To help increase awareness about cholesterol and its dangers, the Kadena HAWC will be conducting a free cholesterol screening outreach at the Kadena BX on 23 September 2000 from 0900 to 1100. For more information about cholesterol and heart disease call the Kadena HAWC at 634-2499, Lester HAWC at 645-2620, the MCCS HAWC on Camp Foster at 645-3484.

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