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NEWS | Sept. 5, 2008

September is Cholesterol Education Month

By Major Amy Carpenter Langley Health and Wellness Center

A good way to avoid a heart attack is to lower your cholesterol, because people with high cholesterol are at greater risk of coronary heart disease.  

September is Cholesterol Education Month and the Langley Health and Wellness Center offers tips and free classes that can help lower cholesterol. 

Like any muscle, the heart needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, which are carried to it by the blood in the coronary arteries. Excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can be deposited in the walls of these arteries, causing narrowing and hardening, reduced blood flow, clot formation and a heart attack.

There are a few ways to manage cholesterol levels, such as avoiding or reducing the intake of certain foods, cooking healthy and making lifestyle changes.  

Many foods contain small amounts of cholesterol, but most of the cholesterol in our diet comes from saturated fat. Therefore, avoiding or reducing the intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol is one way to manage cholesterol levels. 

Changing the way you cook can also reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. 

Here are some examples: 

- Bake, steam, roast, stew, or boil food instead of frying it. 

- Remove all visible fat from meat before cooking or eating. 

- Use a nonstick pan with cooking spray or a small amount of vegetable oil in place of  butter, margarine or lard.

- Chill meat and poultry broth until the fat becomes solid. Then skim the fat off the top before using the broth. 

- Use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Two egg whites can be substituted in many recipes for one whole egg. 

Lifestyle changes are another way to reduce or control your cholesterol levels. The following tips can help you get started: 

- Quit smoking. 

- If you are over your ideal weight, lose at least 5 to 10 pounds. 

- Exercise at least 30 - 60 minutes most days of the week. 

- Choose healthier oils such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. 

- Select brown rice and whole-grain pastas, breads and flour. 

- Eat fish twice a week. 

- Load up on fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of fiber. 

- Reduce your intake of trans fats, which are commonly found in pre-packaged, convenience foods. 

Combining a healthy diet with plenty of exercise is the best way for you to control your cholesterol levels. The HAWC offers free nutrition, fitness, and tobacco cessation classes to help you achieve your goals. For more information on these programs, call the HAWC at 764-6321.