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Understanding Cholesterol Levels and Decrease the Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes

What is Cholesterol?

Before we go into how to reduce your cholesterol, let's take a look at what exactly cholesterol is.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is produced by the liver and its job is to:-

? produce bile acids to help with the digestion of fat
? build and repair cells and
? produce estrogens and testosterone hormones

Therefore cholesterol is an important function of the body, but too much cholesterol in the body becomes a risk as it can clog up arteries and this can be the cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol Symptoms

It is surprising to learn that there are virtually no symptoms to diagnose if you have high cholesterol. High cholesterol is normally identified by a blood test.

However, if you are having health issues such as coronary disease, vascular disease or stroke, then this could be the end result of high cholesterol levels in your body.

Symptoms of:

Coronary Disease
? Angina
? Chest pains
? Nausea
? Shortness of breath

Vascular Disease
? A tightening sensation in the lower extremities
? Ulcers or open sores on the lower extremities

Stroke
? loss of balance and dizziness
? slurring of speech and difficulty in understanding
? numbing sensation of the face, arm or leg
? this can be a sudden event with little or no warning

People who are overweight and do no exercise at all tend to be the ones with higher cholesterol levels.

Therefore, it is recommended that you have a cholesterol blood test every three years if you are overweight and every 5 years if you are a normal healthy weight.

How to Lower Cholesterol

If your blood test shows that your cholesterol levels are too high, then you should take immediate measures to help lower your cholesterol. Your doctor will advise you on the best course of action, but initially it is the norm for you to follow a low cholesterol diet.

A low cholesterol diet is normally a diet which is low in saturated fat and will include eating:-

? skinless poultry
? lean meats
? fish and shellfish
? low fat dairy products
? fruit
? vegetables
? whole grain foods

Cook your food by either

? grilling
? baking
? steaming
? boiling
? poaching
? microwave

Do not fry your food in lard or oil.

Your doctor also might prescribe you with a cholesterol lowering medication if he/she feels that the low cholesterol diet will not be enough.

Claire Bowes is a successful freelance writer and owner of http://www.lower-your-cholesterol.info website where you can find further information and resources on lowering your cholesterol.

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