Cholesterol Biochemstry

Cholesterol is a steroid lipid, found in the cell membranes of all body tissues, and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. Most cholesterol is not dietary in origin, it is synthesized internally.

It is present in higher concentrations in tissues which either produce more or have more densely packed membranes; for example the liver, spinal cord, brain and atheroma.

Cholesterol plays a central role in many biochemical processes, but is best known for the association of cardiovascular disease with various lipoprotein cholesterol transport patterns in the blood.

The name originates from the Greek chole- (bile) and stereos (solid), as researchers first identified cholesterol in solid form in gallstones.

Heart disease is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. 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.

Cholesterol in Children

Many people assume that high cholesterol is a problem that affects middle-aged adults only. In fact, many people don’t even worry about their cholesterol when they are younger, eating all the fatty convenience foods they want, assuming that their early diet makes no difference.

Nothing could be further from the truth. More children today suffer from high cholesterol. In fact, the numbers of children who are taking cholesterol drugs is on the rise! Some studies have suggested that a childhood of poor eating choices can contribute to higher cholesterol later in life.

Besides this, many of the eating habits learned in childhood affects eating in adulthood. Children who are used to eating high-fat foods and convenience foods are more likely to make the same choices as adults. Switching to healthy foods in adulthood may be harder for children who have made less-than-heart-healthy food choices all their lives. For all these reasons, controlling food intake and lifestyle choices even in early life can contribute to life-long heart health and good cholesterol levels.

Tips

A low cholesterol diet is achieved by eating foods low in saturated fat and concentrating on the following:

• Use herbs instead of salt in cooking.

• Consume fat free, skim, or 1% dairy products

• Watch out for bottled and canned drinks and especially for sports beverages – many are very high in sodium, calories, and sugars.

• Choose only lean meats. Enjoy white meats, fish, and poultry rather than red meats.

• Eat plenty of fish

• Enjoy only skinless poultry
• Select plenty of whole grain foods

• Eat lots of fruits

• Read food labels and choose foods low in fats (especially saturated, polyunsaturated, and hydrogenated fats), sodium, and cholesterol

• Choose fresh rather than processed, spiced, prepared, pickled or tinned foods. If you cannot find fresh produce out of season, try frozen foods that have no sauces or other ingredients added.

Lean Meat

When you have chosen your lean cuts of meat, you can make these foods even healthier by reducing the amount of fat you use in preparing them. For example, marinating poultry and other meats in lemon juice and fresh dill or in pureed fruits and vegetables is a heart-friendly way to get plenty of flavor into your cooking without adding fat.

At many fish shops, you can get planks of cedar that are perfect for baking or grilling fish – simply place the fish on the cedar, cover with lemon juice and possibly herbs and grill or bake until done.

All meat processed in plants which sell their products across State lines must, under Federal law, be inspected for wholesomeness by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. This mandatory inspection program is paid for by tax dollars.

Smoothies and Deserts

Combine your favorite fresh fruits in a blender with fresh fruit juice and a small squirt of honey. Combine until blended. This makes an excellent and very healthy snack. It can also be a great quick breakfast on days when you are in a rush.

Experiment with different fruit combinations to find different tastes. Chilling or even freezing some of the fruit before serving can produce a nice chilled drink that is perfect for summer. If you are craving desserts, you can add a small amount of very low fat frozen yogurt to this recipe and use frozen fruits to get a tasty and heart-friendly alternative to ice cream and other desserts.

Desserts and Snacks:

Limiting desserts and snacks in general can help you control your weight and your calories intake and so keep your heart healthy. If you absolutely crave a dessert or snack, though, try to stave off the craving with fresh fruit.

Pasta

There are a number of pastas available, from fresh pasta or dried pasta to vegetable pastas and rice pastas. All can be made into delicious and heart-friendly meals in minutes. Simply cook the pasta in a pot.

Shred your favorite vegetables or cut them into very small pieces. Combine the vegetables with some low-sodium and low-fat chicken or vegetable broth and cook until vegetables are softer but still crisp.

Add the pasta and toss until the vegetables are the desired consistency. Add your favorite fresh herbs (basil is a good choice) and combine. This can be a very tasty combination and is still quite healthy for you.

You can make similar meals with rice or even low-fat tofu. Many prepared pasta dishes use plenty of salt or cream-based sauces, but some combination of this recipe can give you a tasty meal with less fat.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are quite easy to make. Simply choose healthy breads or pitas or tortillas that are low in fats and salts and choose lots of vegetables for your sandwiches.

Avoid highly processed deli and sandwich meats. Instead, use lean and skinless chicken or other poultry. Instead of fats or mayonnaise on your sandwiches – which can increase the fat content of you sandwiches considerably – choose to flavor your sandwich with fresh sweet onions or low-sodium mustard or salsa.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

1/2 – cups cooked chicken breast, diced

1/2 – cup celery, diced

1/2 – onion, diced

1/2 – cup salad dressing (or mayonnaise)

1/2 – teaspoon oregano

1/4 – teaspoon salt

1/8 – teaspoon pepper

1 – hard-cooked egg, peeled

1 – tomato, 8 slices

4 – lettuce leaves

Salads

Even if you are not an excellent cook, you can easily create a salad that is enticing. Simply chop up some favorite salad greens (mescalin mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, herbs) and garnish with a few nuts.

You can make your own dressing by mixing herbs (such as basil or thyme) and a squirt of lemon or you can choose prepared dressings that are very low in salt and fats. You can also create a very low fat salad dressing by combining half an avocado with some herbs and lemon juice. Avoid croutons, bacon bits, whole milk products such as chesses, eggs, and other high-fat foods in your salads. If you do want to add meat to your salad, opt for skinless poultry.

Fruit Salads:

Chopping up some of your favorite fruits, berries, and lemons can make a beautiful and attractive salad that is very low fat. If you are using apples or other fruits that tend to “brown” in your salad, a squirt of lemon juice over your salad will keep your fruit salad attractive and healthy.