A subliminal health risk can surface without us even know it. This risk revolves around our diet and if we aren't careful it could cost us our life. A major factor in what we eat centers around cholesterol, which can play a major factor in getting heart disease. What exactly is cholesterol? Is it all bad for us? If it is not, then what good is there in it for us?

Cholesterol is a white, waxy substance, called a lipid, which is essential to life. Actually, it is produced in the body by the liver and it is also found in the several types of food. The blood carries it through the cells via molecules called lipoproteins which are composed of cholesterol, fats, and proteins. There are two types of cholesterol - high density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) and low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). Cholesterol becomes a high risk factor when there is an overabundance of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Remember, LDLs are bad and lead to atherosclerosis (heart disease).

HDLs, on the other hand, play a more protective role in the body by removing cholesterol from body tissues back to the liver where it is altered and eliminated by the body. HDLs are cholesterol-thirsty molecules. If you get a blood test and the results come back with a high LDL level and a low HDL level then you are at risk for heart disease. Lowering the LDL cholesterol can result in a significant drop in risk.

How can you ensure that you have more HDLs in your blood then LDLs? Maintain a diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Try replacing the foods that are high in saturated fats, such as butter, with foods that are lower in saturated fats, such as canola oil or olive oil; these can lower LDL and conserve HDL. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils found in most margarine and vegetable-shortening products can raise LDL and lower HDL. Cutting down on high-fat meats like bacon (it hurts I know) and substituting low-fat cuts of chicken or turkey is also recommended.

Studies have shown that vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C can slow down atherosclerosis in animals. A study concluded that these may also reduce the incidence of heart attack in humans. Daily consumption of vegetables and fruits rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, such as tomatoes, dark leafy greens, peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and melons, may provide some protection from coronary artery disease (CAD).

Vitamin B6 and magnesium are said to be very useful. Whole grains like barley and oats, beans, lentils, some seeds and nuts can be helpful as well. Additionally, it is thought that eating saltwater fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, or tuna at least twice a week may reduce the risk of CAD, as these are rich in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

So by being sensible and healthy in choosing what we eat and by maintaining a regular exercise routine, it will certainly give us a great chance to not only lower the level of bad cholesterol in our body but in all actuality extend our life.

Author's Bio: 

Michael has been working in the medical field as an EMT for the last 16 years and has been a consultant for the health and wellness firm, Immunotec, since October 2008. His goal is to educate you regarding ways to ensure that your health reaches an optimum level and it stays that way. If you would like to comment on this article and others like it please visit My Blog . If you would like to learn more about or purchase some products mentioned in the article please visit the Product Page.