Control Your Weight

If you weigh more than you should, losing weight is an important step toward lowering your cholesterol levels. To lose weight, you will need to cut calories and boost your activity level. Fortunately, when you lower your fat and cholesterol intake and eat more starches and fiber, you automatically lower your calorie level.

Cutting your calories involves changing both the type of food you eat and the way you eat. Since fat is a very concentrated source of calories, eating more of the low-fat foods that help you lower your cholesterol levels (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) will also help you cut your calories.

If you tend to eat even when you are not really hungry, you may also need to change the way you eat.

Moreover, exercising regularly helps you lose weight. Exercise burns calories and keeps you out of the kitchen and away from food. Experts now recommend that all adults accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.

The best activities for your heart are those that use the large muscles of your body, particularly those in your legs, making them demand more oxygen to do their work. Examples of such “aerobic” activities include walking, running, bicycling and swimming.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO LOWER BLOOD CHOLESTEROL (PART 2)

Making gradual and permanent changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you lower your cholesterol levels.  Not only will these changes reduce your risk for developing heart disease, but they will also reduce your risk for other serious conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.

The main lifestyle changes to help you lower your cholesterol levels are:  Reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet.  Eat more foods rich in carbohydrates and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Increase your level of physical activity.  Maintain a healthy body weight.  In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, if you smoke cigarettes or have high blood pressure, quitting smoking or moderating your sodium intake can also significantly reduce risk for heart disease.

REDUCING TOTAL FAT

Ounce for ounce, fat contains over twice the calories that protein or carbohydrates do.  So even if saturated fat is the type of fat most likely to raise harmful blood cholesterol levels, you should limit intake of all fats.  Eating too much fat, no matter what kind, can make you put on excess weight.  Eating too much fat can also increase your risk of certaintypes of cancer, such as breast or colon cancer.

To limit total fat intake, broil, bake, boil, or roast foods rather than fry.

Use non-stick pans or coat, pans with a thin layer of non-stick spray.

Add less fat to food during both cooking and eating.  Some examples include using jam instead of margarine on toast, a non-fat or low-fat salad dressing instead of a high-fat dressing, lemon juice instead of butter on vegetables, or salsa instead of sour cream on baked potatoes.

Look for low-fat alternatives to foods, such as a bagel instead of a doughnut, pretzels instead of potato chips, or a round steak instead of a T-bone steak.

Read labels, which offer excellent information to help you compare fat content of prepared foods.

REDUCE YOUR SATURATED FAT AND CHOLESTEROL INTAKE.

To reduce the fat and cholesterol intake in your diet, start with changes that are relatively easy to make.  For example, many people find it easy to switch from 2% milk to 1% or skim milk.  Once you have adjusted to one change, pick another change to work on.

Here are some simple changes that will help your greatly reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.

Eat no more than three eggs yolks weekly.  Eat as many egg whites as you like- they contain no cholesterol.

Buy lean meats such as fish, poultry, veal cutlet, pork tenderloin, or flank steak.

Trim as much fat off meat as possible.  Broil, barbecue, or roast meat on a rack rather than fry them.  This allows some of the fat to escape during cooking.

Limit the amount of hamburger you eat, and buy the leanest type available.

Replace high-fat prepared meats like sausage and luncheon meats with lower-fat meats like lean turkey or chicken.

Remove the skin from chicken or turkey before you cook or eat it.

Try to eat fish twice weekly.  Fish contains a type of fat called omega-3 fat that may help prevent heart disease.

Use margarine instead of butter, choosing a margarine that has a liquid oil rather than a hydrogenated oil listed as the first ingredient.

Choose a lower-fat milk.  If you use whole milk, switch to 2%.  If you use 2%, switch to 1$ or skim milk.  (All types of milks have the same amount of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.)

Cut down on the amount of regular cheeses you eat.  Look for lower-fat cheese that contains less than 3 grams of fat per ounce.

Check food labels to see what the main type of fat in the food is.  Limit foods that list palm oil, coconut oil, or a hydrogenated oil as one of the first type of fats.

Be suspicious of commercial baked goods such as doughnuts, sweet rolls, brownies, and cookies, which are a major source of saturated fat.

About 60% of the saturated fat in a typical Western diet comes from three food sources:  hamburger, cheese, whole milk.  Cutting down on these foods, or cutting them out, can go a long way towards helping you cut down saturated fat and cholesterol.

INCREASE YOUR STARCHES AND FIBER

Including more starches and fiber in your diet can help you lower your cholesterol level, as well as reduce your risk for obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and other diseases.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and legumes are naturally low in fat, cholesterol-free, and rich in starches and dietary fiber.

A certain type of dietary fiber, called soluble fiber, may help lower cholesterol levels by sweeping cholesterol out of the body before it gets into the bloodstream.

Foods rich in soluble fiber include oat bran, dried beans and peas, some fruits, and psyllium seeds.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds also contain antioxidants, which are substances that help protect body cells from damage.

Examples of antioxidants are: Vitamin C (in citrus fruits); Beta-carotene (in carrots); Vitamin E (in vegetable oils)

INCLUDE MORE STARCHES AND FIBER IN YOUR DIET:

Keep a food diary showing the number of servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains you get daily.  If the number is low, gradually try to increase by adding fruits, vegetables, and grains you get daily.  If the number is low, gradually try to increase servings of the groups lacking by adding fruits, vegetables, or whole grains as side dishes or snacks.

Buy breads and cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient – they contain more fiber and vitamins and minerals.

Whenever possible, choose raw fruits and vegetables rather than processed ones.  Steam vegetables until crisp-tender, rather than boiling them until soft.  Whenever possible, leave skin on fruits and vegetables.

Try including several meatless meals weekly.

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IS YOUR BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVEL TOO HIGH?

Risk for heart disease and stroke increases with rising blood cholesterol levels. As blood cholesterol exceeds 220 ml/dl (milligrams per decilitre-the units used to measure blood cholesterol in the United States), risk for heart disease increases at a more rapid rate.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. All adults should have their blood cholesterol level measured at least once every five years. If your blood cholesterol level is: Below 180- your blood cholesterol level is ideal. 180-199- your blood cholesterol level is acceptable. 200-219- your blood cholesterol level is borderline high. 220 or higher- your blood cholesterol level is too high. If your total blood cholesterol level is greater than 200 (and especially if it is over 220), you should have another test to see what type of cholesterol is high. If your HDL cholesterol level (the good kind) is: Under 35- it is too low. 36-50- it is acceptable. Over 50- it is ideal. If your LDL cholesterol level (the bad kind) is: 130 or less- it is ideal. 130 to 159- it is borderline high. 160 or greater- it is too high. You should also have your blood level of another type of fat- triglycerides- measured at the same time you have your blood cholesterol levels checked. High blood triglyceride levels can also increase risk for heart disease. Fortunately, these levels can be quickly lowered with weight control and more exercise.

Blood Cholesterol: How to Lower it

What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in the body by the liver. Cholesterol forms part of every cell in the body. Our bodies need cholesterol to: Maintain healthy cell walls. Make hormones (the body’s chemical messengers). Make Vitamin D. Make bile acids, which aid in the digestion. Sometimes, however, our bodies make more cholesterol than we really need, and this excess cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can clog blood vessels and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Our bodies can make too much cholesterol when we eat too much saturated fat- the kind of fat found in animal-based foods such as meat and dairy products.

In addition to making cholesterol, we also get a small percentage of our body’s cholesterol from the foods we eat. Only animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products contain cholesterol. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain cholesterol.

There are different types of cholesterol–and not all cholesterol is harmful.

Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol is a bad type of cholesterol that is most likely to clog blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease.

High-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol is a good type of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps clear the LDL cholesterol out of the blood and reduces your risk for heart disease.

When we get more cholesterol than we need- either because of our body makes too much or because we eat too many cholesterol-rich foods- the surplus cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. Along with other fat-like substances, certain kinds of this circulating cholesterol tend to deposit in the inner lining of the blood vessels.

These cholesterol-rich deposits become coated with scar tissue, forming a bump in the blood vessel known as plaque. Plaque build-up can narrow and harden the blood vessel- a process called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Eventually these plaque deposits can build up to reduce or block blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke. Many people experience chest pain or discomfort from inadequate blood flow to the heart, especially during exercise when the heart needs more oxygen. Smaller plaques can also burst, causing blood flowing over them to clot and clog the blood vessel.

CAUSES OF HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL

Many factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels or cholesterol levels that are out of balance. Some of these factors are within your control, and some are not.

To some extent, your genetic makeup determines your cholesterol level.

Some people inherit a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which means that very high cholesterol levels run in the family.

Some people may simply be more likely than others to react to lifestyle factors (such as lack of exercise or a high-fat diet) that push up cholesterol levels. Other people, especially people for whom diabetes runs in the family, inherit high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are another type of blood fat that can also push up cholesterol levels.

Besides your genetic make-up, many lifestyle factors affect cholesterol levels and cholesterol balance:

WHAT YOU EAT. Eating too much saturated fat (the kind found in high fat meats and dairy products) and cholesterol can cause your body to make more cholesterol, raising your blood cholesterol levels. You can lower your cholesterol level by cutting down on animal fat and other fats and eating foods rich in starch and fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

HOW ACTIVE YOUR ARE. Regular exercise not only reduces total blood cholesterol, but it lowers the bad kind of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) while raising the good kind of cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).

WHAT YOU WEIGH. Being overweight contributes to rising blood cholesterol levels. Fortunately, changes to lower cholesterol levels also help you control your weight, a double benefit.

YOUR HORMONES. Women get a natural boost in their HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol) from their hormones until they reach menopause. After menopause, taking estrogen can help maintain higher HDL cholesterol levels.

A Pineapple Juice a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Did you know that not only is pineapple cholesterol-free and fat-free, it also has important nutrients that are superb in keeping your body in great health.

One cup of pineapple cubes contains the following six vital nutrients:

AMOUNT RDA

Vitamin C 23.9 mg 40%

Folacin 16.4 mcg 8%

Thiamin 0.1 mg 7%

Vitamin B6 0.1mg 5%

Magnesium 21.7mg 5%

Iron 0.6mg 4%

Just how important are these nutrients? Consider these facts:

VITAMIN C

One cup of pineapple cubes contains 40% of the RDA for vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune system. It does the following: protects the body from oxidation; helps to regulate cholesterol levels: encourages iron absorption; helps to manufacture and maintain collagen, a protein that is the basis for connective tissue; helps asthmatics breathe easier. Speeds up recovery from pneumonia, mononucleosis, hepatitis, and other viral infections; strengthens immune system by stimulating T-cells, B-cells, and macrophages (cell eaters which ingest and destroy invaders); protects the heart by regulating the liver’s production of cholesterol. Aids in the fight against cancer through its antioxidant properties. Acts as weight-loss aid (3 grams of Vitamin C was given to obese women, 6 weeks later with no diet change the vitamin C takers lost twice as much as those on the placebo).

MANGANESE

It strengthens the immune system by enhancing the activity of natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages (cell eaters which ingest and destroy invaders).

Manganese is also an important cofactor in the enzyme systems that handle glucose.

Manganese deficiency can lead to glucose intolerance, and the symptoms of diabetes.

It is helpful for menorrhagia (heavy menstrual periods). Fifteen women were place on a manganese deficient diet and experienced a 50% increase in menstrual fluid volume. Manganese may help to regulate menstrual flow.

BROMELAIN

This is the proteolytic enzyme found in pineapple.

First discovered in the 1950’s and the subject of over 200 reports in scientific literature, this enzyme is efficient in treating angina pectoris, arthritis, bronchitis, burns, menstrual difficulties, swelling, digestive problems, pneumonia, and other infections and ailments.

It inhibits platelet aggregation and may modulate tumor growth. It has been suggested as having beneficial effects on lupus.

FIBER

Pineapple is also rich in fiber that does the following: Helps to lower total cholesterol, as well as LDL. Helps to keep blood sugar under control. Protects against cancers of the colon, rectum, pancreas, breast, and prostate.

Pineapples, Ananascomosus, were brought to Europe from South America in the 1500s, where they were used in building and coat-of-arms designs.

Pineapple is a delicious addition to poultry and fish dishes. Pineapple juice is also superb with every meal every day.

Natural Remedies for a Common Cold

We usually catch a cold from someone who has one. Viruses, microscopic organisms that can only grow inside living cells, most often cause colds.

Colds are spread in three ways: indirectly through the air, directly through physical contact, such as drinking from an infected person’s used cup.

Contrary to folk wisdom, catching a cold is unrelated to exposure to cold or rainy weather, going outside with wet hair, or walking barefoot on a cold floor.

Researchers think people catch colds more easily in winter because they spend more time indoors and are more likely to contact infected people indoors. Humidity lowers in cold air, causing nasal passages to dry and become vulnerable to viral infection.

Nose and throat linings include mucous cells, or goblet cells, that produce mucus that traps dust and other particles such as viruses. Epithelial cells that line the passages leading out the body have cilia, which are microscopic hairs. The cilia sweep the mucus and any trapped virus germs to the back of the throat. Gastric juices swallow and digest the mucus.

When low humidity dries the mucus and causes the cilia to become sluggish, viruses easily invade the nasal lining cells. Once a virus invades, typical cold symptoms may appear: runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat.

Some cold viruses can remain infectious for several hours outside the body and can cause infection through contact with the mucous membrane linings of the eyes, nose or mouth. If you touch an infected surface and rub your eye, you can get a cold.

A cure for the common cold does not exist. The common cold is a collection of symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat and cough. Because of the countless cold-causing organisms, finding a cure is virtually impossible. Most viruses are simple in construction. These microscopic particles contain some DNA or RNA, which are the genetic material of a cell, surrounded by a protein coating. Viruses invade the nose and throat cells, changing their chemical makeup. One virus can produce more viruses that spread to other cells and repeat the disease process.

Modern medicine cannot cure the cold but it does treat the symptoms. Medicines can only relieve coughing, congestion, sore throat, and sneezing.

So, if you are suffering from a cold, it is your body’s way of warning you to slow down, to take a break and to rest. Our body is built with an immune system that fights ailments naturally. While your body is recovering, why not try some of these natural remedies out. They are inexpensive and have no side effects:

  1. Chicken soup. (see this classic recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/simple-chicken-soup.html) Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children. Now scientists have put chicken soup to the test, discovering that it does have effects that might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils-immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.
  2. Ginger root. Another folk remedy for cough, colds and sore throat. It’s used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat coughs and is also for colds accompanied by runny nose with a clear nasal discharge, headache, neck and shoulder aches, and a white tongue coating. In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, ginger is also used for cough and colds.
  3. Garlic. One of the more popular home cures for colds. Many cultures have a home remedy for the cold using garlic, whether it’s chicken soup with lots of garlic, a drink made with raw crushed garlic, or if it just involves eating raw garlic. The cold-fighting compound in garlic is thought to be allicin, which has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal properties. To maximize the amount of allicin, fresh garlic should be chopped or crushed and it should be raw.

Garlic does have some possible side effects and safety concerns. Bad breath and body odor are perhaps the most common side effects. Garlic supplements should be avoided by people with bleeding disorders, two weeks before or after surgery, or by those taking “blood-thinning” medications. Garlic may also lower blood glucose levels and increase the release of insulin, so it should be used with caution by people taking drugs that lower blood sugar. Pregnant women should avoid garlic in supplement form because it may increase the risk of bleeding.

Although minor colds can make you feel miserable, it’s tempting to try the latest remedy, but the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself. Rest, drink fluids and keep the air around you moist. Remember to wash your hands frequently.

  1. Honey& Cinnamon. Honey has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties. Many studies have shown that it is effective at fighting external and internal infections. Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.Honey and cinnamon are powerful immune boosters. You can use this remedy to not only reduce the severity of your cold, but also prevent future colds or other viruses.Together these two ingredients make a super healing combination.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar. It contains potassium, which thins mucus; and the acetic acid in it prevents germ growth, which could contribute to nasal congestion. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink to help sinus drainage.
  3. Eucalyptus Oil. It contains antibacterial action on pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract. Eucalyptus oil is said to implement the innate cell-mediated immune response.