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Lower cholesterol safely and cheaply

First it was lipsticks with too much lead. And now there is mascara with too much mercury – the reason why its getting banned in the US One of the safest and cheapest ways to treat high cholesterol is to change your eating habits. In a nutshell: Eat less saturated and trans fats.

Your goal: no more than 25% to 35% of your total daily calories from fat, keeping your saturated fat intake to less that 7% of total calories and limiting dietary cholesterol to 200 mg or less per day. How can you tell how much and what kind of fat you’re getting?  The labels on packaged foods and a calorie counter that includes fat grams are useful tools to help you determine fat calories.

Another tip: saturated fats are solid to semi-solid at room temperature and include the fats in meat, dairy products, and eggs, as well as some vegetable oils, particularly the tropical oils (palm, palm kernel, coconut, and cocoa butter). Most saturated fats stimulate LDL production in the body. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can lower your LDL.

On the other hand, unsaturated fats, which tend to be liquid at room temperature, include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Olive, peanut, sesame, and canola oils are rich in monounsaturated fats, while soybean, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, and fish oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. In contrast to LDL-raising saturated fats, both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats have some ability to lower LDL.

Avoid trans fats, which are created when food manufacturers solidify unsaturated liquid oils to create firmer margarines and shortenings. Trans fats have been shown to raise LDL and lower HDL levels in the blood. These fats are a greater risk to heart health than even saturated fats. An expert panel from the Institute of Medicine concluded that trans fats have no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption. Growing data on the hazards of trans fats prompted the FDA to pass a regulation that now requires nutrition labels to include trans fat content.

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