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What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a sticky substance unable to travel through the blood on its own. It must be mixed with protein in order to ride down our blood highway.

Most of cholesterol is made by the liver and is used to keep our cells working properly.

LDL vs. HDL:
LDL or "bad" cholesterol may get stuck inside the walls of our blood vessels while traveling.
HDL or "good" cholesterol comes along and finds the stuck LDLs and carries them back to the liver.

What are some symptoms?
You may not have any symptoms until it is too late. That's why it is important to check your cholesterol level before you have a heart attack or stroke. If any of the following applies to you, you may be living a high cholesterol lifestyle:

· You eat prepared or fast food.
· You eat regular cheese and buy whole milk.
· You smoke.
· You indulge in fatty meats - ribs, bacon or porkchops.
· You get little exercise.
· You are overweight - if so, your body stores more fat and cholesterol.
· You do not check your cholesterol level.

How to lower your cholesterol level:
· If overweight start a simple and safe diet.
· Exercise - if unable, walk everyday.
· Stop smoking.
· If you're under stress, ask your doctor about stress management.
· Change your diet. Eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and eat more fiber.
· Stop fatty foods and salty snacks.
· If taking medication for your cholesterol make sure you take as directed.

Below are some foods to help you reach your goal:
· Use olive oil (extra virgin), canola oil, safflower, or corn oil when cooking.
· Meats - lean cuts only. Seafood and poultry. When eating poultry, remove skin.
· Fruits and vegetables - contain no cholesterol.
· Spreads - light mayonnaise.
· Milk - nonfat or skim. Nonfat yogurt.

Healthy Cooking:
· Microwave, broil, bake, steam or grill.
· Use spices and herbal blends.
· Use low-fat dressings, sour cream, and spreads.
· Substitute margarine for butter.
· Replace eggs in recipes with egg whites. Two egg whites for each egg.

Total cholesterol level
below 200 is desirable.
200-239 - borderline.
240 or higher - high.

Lowering your cholesterol level will greatly reduce your risk of heart disease including heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Once under control you can feel satisfied knowing you took charge of your own well being.