Blueberries and Their Role in Cholesterol Control

Our bodies need cholesterol. We use cholesterol to produce vitamin D, hormones, and certain acids that help us digest fat. Only a small amount of cholesterol is needed to meet these needs; in fact, our bodies actually produce enough cholesterol on their own, and any cholesterol derived from food is unnecessary. Problems arise when we have too much cholesterol, commonly known as LDL. Many factors help determine whether your LDL-cholesterol level is high or low. The following factors are the most important:

-What you eat
-Physical activity/exercise
-Age and sex

Of these, you obviously cannot control your heredity, age, or sex but you should always consider those factors when embarking on a plan to lower your LDL level. On a good note, most of the known factors that contribute to cholesterol problems and heart disease ARE under your control.

The foods you eat, your weight, and your amount of physical activity are all inter-related components that can contribute to decreasing your LDL levels. The two main ingredients in many of the foods you consume that can cause an increase in LDL are saturated fat and cholesterol. Both of these nutrients are found in animal products, so eating more lean meats and fish, along with a heavy supply of fruits and vegetables, can cut down on these elements. Also, by eating this healthier diet, weight loss will most likely occur naturally; this will lower triglycerides, which will raise "good" cholesterol, known as HDL. Increasing physical activity is also all tied in to a healthy diet and weight loss, and will not only help you lose weight, but build up your stamina and improve your overall health

Alcohol intake increases HDL cholesterol, but does not lower LDL cholesterol. Doctors are unsure as to whether alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease. Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver and heart muscle, however, causing high blood pressure and raising triglycerides; because of the risks, alcoholic beverages should not be used as a way to prevent heart disease.

Finally, stress is something we all want to avoid, but which is sometimes unavoidable. Many times, when we stress, we don't make wise choices and wind up eating fatty foods that are high in saturated fat. Some ways to de-stress: yoga, exercise, breathing exercises. Even taking twenty minutes out of your day to take a quiet bath or read a book can calm your nerves and reduce stress.

There has been a long-standing belief in natural medicine that there are certain foods that provide more than just dietary value and are believed to have disease-fighting and healing properties. One of these foods that has been proven to be a way to fill up on antioxidants is the blueberry. In recent USDA studies blueberries been shown to be number one in antioxidant activity, as compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables and makes this humble fruit the ideal health supplement.

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