Cholesterol plays a major role in a person's heart health. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Scientists aren't completely sure why some ethnic groups are at higher risk for heart disease, but they are certain that both genetics and lifestyle choices play a role. Because high cholesterol does not have symptoms, many people do not know that their cholesterol is too high. Screening is the key to detecting high cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that your daily consumption of cholesterol should not exceed 200 mg a day.

We all have cholesterol (often referred to as fats). Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the bloodstream and in the cells of our body. Cholesterol isn’t all bad. In fact, it plays an important role in keeping us healthy. But a balance must be kept to prevent too much cholesterol in the blood. Too much cholesterol in your blood can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Did you know that:

• People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart disease as

   people with optimal levels.

• African Americans generally have higher HDL levels than whites. HDL is known as the

   “good” cholesterol. However, African Americans generally have higher rates of cardio-

   vascular disease. So, high HDL levels do not seem to provide much protection.

• Among African Americans age 20 and older, approximately 44 percent of men and 42 per-

   cent of women have total blood cholesterol over the recommended level of 200 mg/dL

   (milligrams per deciliter of blood).

• Many risk factors for heart disease and stroke—including high cholesterol—may not have any symptoms.

• Most risk factors for heart disease and stroke—specifically high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity—are preventable and controllable.

Know Your Cholesterols

There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is also called "good" cholesterol. LDL is called "bad" cholesterol. Your body naturally produces LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is affected by diet. Eating saturated fat (in foods like cheese, beef, bacon, sausage, butter and ice cream) and trans fat (in foods like french fries, battered and fried foods, pie, margarine and shortening) raises your blood cholesterol. Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don't is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. You may need to have your cholesterol checked more often if any of the following statements applies to you:

     • Your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher

     • You are a man older than age 45 or a woman older than age 50

     • Your HDL cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL

     • You have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke

Therapeutic Behavior Change

Today is the day to make a therapeutic behavior change. Along with your physician's orders to eat a heart-healthy diet, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight, there are things everyone can do to help lower their cholesterol levels and their health risks:

• Change your eating habits. Choose foods high in fiber and starch, low in cholesterol and total fat.

• Be more physically active. Perform brisk physical activity 45 minutes a day.

• Lose weight if you're overweight. Losing even a few pounds can help lower your cholesterol.

Take small steps and DON’T GIVE UP!!

Please take the time to download the cookbook for tasty menu options that can help lower your cholesterol. To learn more about empowering yourself to manage your health conditions please contact us at: