True or False: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Explanation: Here are the facts:
*Nearly 1 million Americans died of heart disease in 2002, making it the leading cause of death.
*52 million Americans have high cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease.
*67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, the top contributor to high cholesterol.
Which of the following lifestyle changes can help you improve your cholesterol?
True of False: Your body needs cholesterol to be healthy.
Explanation: Cholesterol is a building block of body cells and hormones. It makes up 50 percent of your nervous system, and is necessary for metabolism. In moderate amounts, it is essential to good health. But the dangers of high cholesterol, including artery blockage and heart disease, are well-documented. Other studies suggest that very low cholesterol levels can also be harmful and dangerous. The key seems to be making sure your body has enough--but not too much. Read "What is Cholesterol?" to learn more.
What level of serum (blood) cholesterol is considered healthy?
Above 250 mg/dL
Below 200 mg/dL
Above 60 mg/dL
Below 150 mg/dL
Explanation: Serum (blood) cholesterol flows through the bloodstream. Your body manufactures most of its blood cholesterol, but it absorbs some from the foods you eat. A total blood cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is a healthy goal. The amount of cholesterol you have in your blood is partly genetic (some people tend to have high levels, while other people tend to have low levels). But your habits (smoking, diet, exercise, etc.) affect the level of cholesterol in your blood too.
Which of the following statements about HDL is false?
It stands for high density lipoprotein
It's the unhealthy cholesterol
High levels of HDL are healthier than low levels of HDL
Explanation: HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is the good, healthy cholesterol. HDL picks up and carries excess cholesterol away from artery walls and brings it back to the liver for processing and removal. You want this number to be high (at least 60 mg/dL)to protect your heart. Levels too low (less than 40 mg/dL) are bad for your health, increasing your risk for heart disease. Click here to learn about other important cholesterol numbers, like LDL and triglycerides.
True or False: Even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly, your cholesterol levels are more likely to be elevated if you are overweight.
Explanation: Being overweight increases your blood cholesterol levels since your body stores the extra calories you eat as triglycerides. When these triglyceride levels are high, HDL (good) cholesterol levels tend to be low, a combination that is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Losing just 10% of your body weight (25 pounds for someone who weights 250 pounds), can improve your cholesterol levels.
How much dietary cholesterol should you consume from foods each day?
10% of your calories
Less than 300 milligrams
Dietary cholesterol does not affect your body's cholesterol levels.
Explanation: Dietary cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It is not found in plant foods like grains, fruits and vegetables. Individuals should limit their intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams daily.
Which of the following high-fat foods is a source of heart-healthy fats?
Reduced-fat cream cheese
Explanation: Peanut butter (the "natural" kind without added oils) contains monounsaturated fats, which are the healthiest fats for your heart. They decrease your total blood cholesterol but maintain your HDL (good) cholesterol. Ideally, most of the fat in your diet should come from this group, which includes: almonds, avocadoes, cashews, canola oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olive oil, olives, pecans, peanuts, peanut oil, pistachios, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and tahini paste. Read SparkPeople's Fat & Oil Reference Guide to learn more about healthy and unhealthy fats.
Which of the following nutrients should you limit if you want to improve your cholesterol levels?
A - Trans fats
B - Saturated fats
C - Cholesterol
D - Polyunsaturated fats
All of the above
A, B, and C only
Explanation: Trans fat is the unhealthiest fat you can eat! It increases your total cholesterol and your LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol. Food products that contain trans fat include vegetable shortenings, hard stick margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, doughnuts, pastries, baking mixes and icings, store-bought baked goods, and more.
Saturated fat is unhealthy because it increases both your total blood cholesterol and your LDL (bad) cholesterol as well. Ideally, no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Try to limit and avoid: bacon, bacon grease, beef, butter, cheese, cocoa butter, coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, cream, cream cheese, ice cream, lard, palm kernel oil, palm oil, pork, poultry, sour cream, and whole milk.
Cholesterol should be limited to less than 300 mg daily (see answer to question 7 above).
Polyunsaturated fats are somewhat healthy since they decrease your LDL (bad) cholesterol, but also decrease your HDL (good) cholesterol. You'll find polyunsaturated fats in corn oil, mayonnaise, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, which can be eaten in moderation.
In order for exercise to improve your cholesterol levels, it must be:
Long-lasting (at least 30 minutes per session)
Accompanied by a reduction in weight
Supervised by a medical professional
None of the above
Explanation: Exercise can increase your HDL (good) levels while lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol. You'll be happy to know that you don't need to spend countless hours in the gym to achieve the heart-health benefits of getting active. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
Even moderate activity, if done daily, can make a difference. Research shows cholesterol improvements are related to the amount of activity and not to the intensity of the exercise. Even if you lose little weight, exercise can help you improve your cholesterol levels. Heart-healthy changes can occur inside your body before any benefits are seen on the outside.
Although everyone should consult their health care provider before starting an exercise program, in most cases, you won't need medical supervision to exercise safely and effectively.
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