Cholesterol: Fact and Fiction

If you ask a random person on the street if they have heard of cholesterol, chances are they have. It is also highly likely that they hold some common ideas concerning this vital compound, its role in the human body, and the damage elevated levels can cause. These ideas are spread so frequently that many people consider them truth. But are they? If you are a person who is concerned about your heart health it can be very important to get informed. Keep reading as I shine a light on what cholesterol is, how high LDL can damage your health and how to lower your cholesterol. I will even debunk some myths along the way.


What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in nearly every cell of the human body. Your body uses this compound to make vitamin D and some hormones as well as substances to help you digest the food you eat. It is not necessary to get cholesterol from food. Your body makes its own. But that does not mean cholesterol is not present in foods you eat. Cholesterol travels through your body in small packages called lipoproteins which are made of fat or lipid on the inside and protein on the outside. There are two types of lipoproteins, High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) Having healthy levels of both types of cholesterol is important for your body’s continued functioning, but high levels of LDL can be a large problem.


The Effects of High LDL Cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol is a condition whereby you have too much cholesterol in your blood. By itself, it usually has no symptoms so most people do not realize when their cholesterol is high. High cholesterol silently causes plaque build-up in the coronary arteries. This build-up can be very dangerous as it can lead to atherosclerosis, the hardening of the coronary arteries, those closest to the heart. Plaque build-up narrows the arteries, restricting the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. Eventually, a plaque can rupture, forming a blood clot on the surface. This clot, if it grows big enough may cut off the blood supply to a section of the heart muscle. This is called a heart attack, and if blood flow is not restored quickly, the section of muscle will soon die. Untreated heart attacks can lead to serious problems or even death. Plaque can also build up in other arteries as well, leading to such problems as strokes and peripheral artery disease.


Lowering Your Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, do not fret. Though it is a risk factor for heart disease, it is something which can be controlled. Avoid trans fats, found in baked goods, fried foods, and even frozen pizza crusts. Read food labels and look for partially hydrogenated in the name. That is a fancy word for trans-fat. Losing weight is another way to lower cholesterol. Losing just ten pounds will lower your LDL by eight per cent. And make sure to fill up on fiber. People who ate just ten more grams of fiber than they normally would lowered their LDL cholesterol drastically, and raised their HDL as well.


Cholesterol Myths

As you continue your research into cholesterol, you are bound to come across some very insidious myths. Here are a few of them, so that you do not fall prey to misinformation. It is often thought that eating eggs will make your cholesterol rise. While it is true that eggs do contain a lot of dietary cholesterol, not all of that makes it into your bloodstream. If your level of dietary cholesterol rises, your body simply compensates by making less cholesterol of its own. As an added note, it is often thought that children cannot have high cholesterol. Sadly, this is untrue. With the increasing rate of childhood obesity in America, more and more children have high cholesterol and may develop heart disease. That is why it is important to practice good health habits, not just for you but for your entire family as well.


Being a savvy consumer is very important. One step toward that goal is education, especially where your health is concerned. Now you know what exactly cholesterol is, what it does in the body, how high blood cholesterol can affect your health, and even how to lower it. Perhaps the next time you see a person on the street or in a diner spreading misinformation about cholesterol and its risks you can shed some light on the subject and help them in turn.

25 Comfort Food Ideas to Get You Through Winter

Sure, we all try to eat healthy most of the time, but sometimes those dark, cold winter days pile up. When that happens, you need that special warmth that only a true comfort food can offer.

Here are 25 of our best ideas to munch and enjoy. Click the link for a recipe for each.

  1. Macaroni and cheese
  2. Grilled cheese
  3. Mashed potatoes
  4. Loaded baked potatoes
  5. Corn chowder
  6. Potato soup
  7. Chicken noodle soup
  8. French onion soup
  9. Chili
  10. Chicken pot pie
  11. Beef stew
  12. Cornbread
  13. Roast beef
  14. Onion rings
  15. Meatloaf
  16. Oatmeal
  17. Fried chicken
  18. Lasagna
  19. Baked beans
  20. Tomato soup
  21. Swedish meatballs
  22. Chicken and dumplings
  23. Baked ziti
  24. Fettuccine alfredo
  25. Chocolate chip cookies

The next time winter cravings hit, you’ll be ready to strike with some of the season’s tastiest and most satisfying foods. Bundle up and bon appetit!

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Colds and Flus this Winter

In the winter, the risk for catching a cold or flu skyrockets. With temperatures dropping, stress levels rising and all that extra time hunkered up together indoors, it’s no surprise that we’re all a little more vulnerable.

But with the holidays, celebrations, and all the fun to be had in the snow, winter is no time to catch a cold or flu. Leave those achy, sniffly days behind and stay healthy throughout the winter with these 10 tips to avoid getting a cold or flu this winter.

  1. Wash your hands
    We touch even more things over the course of the day than most of us even realize. From keyboards to doorknobs and more, those germs add up quickly. And that leaves you at risk.

To protect yourself from all those germs, wash your hands frequently, using soap and lathering for at least 20 seconds. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes and nose.

  1. Get vaccinated
    Health experts say getting your flu vaccine is one of the best ways to stay healthy. The good news is, it’s increasingly easy to get your shot—and with minimal discomfort.

Not only can you get your vaccination at just about any neighborhood drug store, but there’s also new ways to receive your vaccination. In addition to the traditional shot, you can now also opt for a nasal spray or a new microinjection option, which uses a needle just 10 percent of the size of the traditional needle.

  1. Exercise
    Nothing makes you want to skip the workout and stay in bed like a cold, dark morning. But as it turns out, winter may be the most important time to hit the gym. In fact, working out helps boost your body’s germ-fighting cells for as long as three hours afterward.

People who work up a sweat at least five days a week have been shown to have 43 percent fewer days with a cold during the chilly months, according to an Appalachian State University study.

But don’t go overboard—extreme exercise (like marathon runners who run over 60 miles a week, according to the study) can counteract the benefits.

  1. Bundle up
    Winter’s cold temperatures can be one of the greatest seasonal factors increasing your risk for illness. Shivering in itself reduces your body’s natural defenses against colds and flues. The cold outside is inevitable, but you don’t have to feel it.

The best defense against low temperatures? Listen to your mom and bundle up before heading out.

  1. Take your vitamins
    In winter, it gets harder to get the vitamin D our bodies need from natural sources like the sun. And that’s only one of many vitamins the body needs to thrive. Vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and many other nutrients all help your body fight off infections.

Taking a daily vitamin can keep your body full of the nutrients it needs and ready to take on the germs you inevitably come across in your daily life.

  1. Eat well
    This one’s pretty basic, but that doesn’t make it any less important: Eat less junk food and more nutrient-rich fruit and veggies. Getting your greens in is especially important this time of year.

Strengthen your body’s natural defenses against colds and flus by adding green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli or Brussels sprouts to at least two meals each day.

  1. Sanitize your space
    While washing your hands is critical, it’s not something you can do constantly. But flu germs can stay alive on surfaces for over two hours, according to Dr. Oz. Sanitizing surfaces can help bridge the gap.

Especially pay attention to frequently touched and shared surfaces like door knobs, remote controls, keyboards, and refrigerator handles.

  1. Get out and have fun
    Curling up under a blanket at home may feel good, but it’s not the best thing for you. A study from Carnegie Mellon University actually showed that people who are more socially active are better at fending off colds. So braving the cold to spend time with friends is a healthier choice. 
  1. Sleep
    Another important way to keep your immune system strong is to make sure you get enough sleep each night. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s germ-fighting T-cell count goes down. So do yourself a favor and get your beauty rest.
  1. Drink water
    Water plays an important role in flushing toxins from the body, so don’t skimp on it during the wintry months. When you’re dehydrated, it’s harder for your body to flush out and fight germs.

And if you’ve already caught a cold or flu, keep on sipping—drinking lots of water can help get past an illness faster, too.

Stay healthy all winter

Winter can demand a lot of your immune system. Between the parties, the stress and the frigid temperatures, there’s a lot of ways your body can work against you during the flu and cold season.

But the good news is, there is a lot you can do to keep yourself out of the doctor’s office. These 10 tips will keep your immune system strong all winter so you can reduce your risk of colds and flus, and enjoy the perks of the season.

Keeping Out Of The Emergency Room This Christmas

Unfortunately, emergency rooms get very busy at the holiday season.  No matter where you live, the chances of you or someone in your family having to go to the hospital increase around Christmas time, specifically because of seasonal and environmental changes.  Keep these few tips in mind to prevent any unwanted illness or injury at this festive time of the year.



When you climb up on a ladder to reach the roof of your house, do be careful!  People fall off of ladders very often while trying to decorate their homes.  Before you ever set foot onto your ladder, check it to be sure that it still seems fully operational and not rickety.  Never climb a ladder backwards; always face the rungs while you climb.  Do not skip rungs, and do not stand on the very top of a ladder.  Last but certainly not least, place your ladder on the ground—not on top of a table, shelf or other surface.  A little ladder safety goes a long way while you are decorating for the holidays!



Prepare yourself for weather situations in any Christmastime climate.  In the Southern Hemisphere, remember that temperatures could climb during Christmas, and an afternoon spent in the heat of the sun can potentially lead to sun stroke or heat exhaustion.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the reverse is true:  spending too much time outdoors during Christmas has the chance to lead to frostbite or hypothermia if you are not careful.  Even if temperature extremes are not a problem, weather-related issues can still crop up, including sunburn or slipping and falling on icy surfaces.  Always exercise caution when heading outdoors during the holidays, and watch the kids, too.



Although it is less common in a modern world where candles are not hung directly on the boughs of Christmas trees, fires are still a potential holiday danger.  Natural and artificial trees both have the ability to catch fire, particularly from a malfunctioning string of overheating or sparking lights.  To prevent your natural tree from catching fire as easily, remember to keep it watered every day.  For any tree, do not overload the branches with lights, and try to use LED lights wherever possible.  Similarly, be careful of candles that you have lit during the holiday season.  If you live in a cold climate and will be using a radiator or space heater, take care not to place any furniture, clothing, or drapes too close to the heating mechanism.



People do not often have to go to the emergency room due to overeating, but every so often, it does happen.  If you have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, severe food allergy, or gastrointestinal issues, then you may be more at risk for a food-related Christmas hospital trip.  Try to limit your sugar and fat intakes throughout the season, and particularly in a given day.  There may be seven different kinds of Christmas goodies in the kitchen, but that does not mean that you have to try them all in one go!




Last but not least, presents have a nasty habit of sending holiday revellers to the emergency room.  The trouble starts when the gift is being purchased.  Holiday shopping is responsible for a lot of auto-mobile crashes every year, because shoppers tend to be in such a hurry and may be much less careful than they would be at other times of the year.  After you have given the gift, it may continue to cause problems for its recipient.  Particularly if you give a gift to a child, be careful to choose something appropriate to the child’s age and abilities.  Bicycles, trampolines, and toys with small parts that can be easily swallowed are all known culprits of Christmas trips to the emergency room.  If you give a child something like a bicycle, be responsible and give a helmet along with it.  And if the family gets a pool for the holidays, remember to always keep an eye on the little ones.



If you keep these tips in mind, you will have a smooth, healthy, and happy holiday season, and your family will be much safer as well.  Do not let injury and illness put a damper on your Christmas!