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Healthy Fats Are Essential, Too!

Because inflammation is such a biggie, here's another key message to remember - healthy fats are essential for heart health, too.

Day 2: The Other Side of Cholesterol

If you have heard of cholesterol, then you more than likely associate it with heart disease - which isn't the whole story. Cholesterol itself isn't bad for you. In fact, if you don't eat cholesterol through animal products, then your body will produce it.

Cholesterol acts as building blocks for tissue, aids in the production of hormones, and assists in producing bile, which will help efficiently break down the fat in your French Fries that you might indulge in at your upcoming Super Bowl party! What is more important to look out for is the ratio of LDL:HDL -what doctors will refer to as the "bad cholesterol" and "good cholesterol".

How high your LDL is essentially determines how "banged up" your arteries are, therefore putting you at risk of heart disease. LDL is a better predictor of inflammation than your total cholesterol number. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to increase HDL. Genetic components have a higher impact on HDL status than what foods you eat. What you can better control is your LDL. Foods like avocado and fatty fish can help lower LDL and decrease inflammation.

Try having salmon two times a week or 1/2 medium avocado a day on top of a salad or alone as a quick snack in between meals. Not only do healthy fats decrease inflammation, they help to keep you full longer!

In summary, your cholesterol number is not the whole story. Your LDL:HDL ratio is much more telling of your heart health, while higher LDL increases your risk of heart disease and inflammation. Healthy fats are a much better fat source than saturated fats like butter or mayonnaise.

Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director

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