For Better Living: September is National Cholesterol Month


September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high.

High blood cholesterol affects over 65 million Americans. It is a serious condition that increases your risk for heart disease. The higher your cholesterol level, the greater the risk. You can have high cholesterol and not know it. Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high decreases your risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of having a heart attack.

The cholesterol you eat in foods may raise your blood cholesterol number. A blood test can show what your cholesterol number is. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and how often you should get your cholesterol checked. Keep your total blood cholesterol number below 200 and your LDL (bad) cholesterol number below 130. If you are at a higher risk of heart disease, your doctor may advise a lower number for you.

Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance. Your body makes and uses it continually. It is found naturally in muscle, blood, skin, heart, and the rest of your body. Cholesterol is ONLY found in foods that come from animals like eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish.

To find out if a processed food contains cholesterol, read the Nutrition Facts food label. Cholesterol is listed with its amount in milligrams (mgs). Also, look at the Percent Daily Value (%DV) column to see whether the food is high or low in cholesterol. Five percent or less is considered low in cholesterol; 20 percent or more is considered high. Compare different foods and choose ones that have a lower % DV for cholesterol.

Tips to help you eat less cholesterol…

Eat fewer whole eggs. Cholesterol is in the egg yolk, not the white.

—Use egg whites instead of the whole egg.

—To make a scrambled egg without the yolk, use 2 egg whites, 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.

—Eat no more than 1 whole egg each day.

Eat less beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish.

—Eat smaller servings of meat. Only have a piece of meat as large as a deck of playing cards at any one meal. This is a 3 ounce serving.

Use skim, low-fat, no-fat, or non-fat dairy products.

— Use skim milk, ½ %, 1% milk, NOT whole milk, 2% milk, or cream.

— Use low fat cheese.

— Use low-fat yogurt and non-fat sour cream.

— Eat fruit popsicles or sherbet instead of ice cream.

— Use oil, not lard or meat drippings.

Also, be sure to eat right, exercise 30 – 60 minutes on most days and keep your body weight at a healthy level.

Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Garlic Brussels Sprouts

1 ½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 teaspoons butter or margarine, divided

2 teaspoons olive or canola oil

½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cut an X in the core end of each Brussels sprout. Set aside. In a large saucepan, sauté garlic in 1 teaspoon butter and oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Add sprouts; toss to coat. Add the broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 12 – 14 minutes or until sprouts are tender. Drain; add the remaining butter and toss until melted. Yield: 6 servings.

Sandra Cain can be reached by calling 910-862-4591.

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