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Prairie Fare: Can You Pass This Heart-Smart Quiz?

What waxy, fatlike substance sometimes is the topic of conversations, especially after a health appointment? In fact, if your level was high, you wouldn’t have any symptoms.

You’re right if you were thinking “cholesterol.”

Recently, cholesterol levels have been in the news, but not pertaining to adults. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five teens in the U. S. has high blood cholesterol. Further, more than 40 per cent of obese teens have abnormal levels of blood cholesterol.

How much do you know about cholesterol? Try this heart-smart quiz based on information from the CDC. (1) What effect does being overweight usually have on blood cholesterol levels?

a.) Being overweight increases LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, lowers HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels and increases the total cholesterol level.

b.) Being overweight decreases LDL levels, raises HDL levels and decreases total cholesterol levels.

c.) Being overweight decreases LDL levels, raises HDL levels and increases total cholesterol levels.

(2) Which of these statements is


a.) As people get older, their

LDL cholesterol levels tend to decrease.

b.) As people get older, their LDL cholesterol levels tend to increase.

c.) As people get older, their LDL cholesterol levels stay the same.

(3) True or False: High blood cholesterol can run in families. (4) Which of these items tend to

raise blood cholesterol? a.) Unsaturated fat and trans fat b.) Saturated fat and trans fat c.) Only saturated fat

The answers are 1. a; 2. b; 3. True; 4. b.

For adults, a blood cholesterol level less than 200 milligrams per decilitre is desirable. The desirable level of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) is less than 100, and the desirable level of HDL (“good cholesterol”) is 60.

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, adults above the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. If you have children, ask your child’s health-care provider whether cholesterol testing is recommended.

Of the factors that influence our blood cholesterol levels, we obviously can’t change our age, gender or heredity. However, we can make some positive changes in our diet and level of physical activity, which can impact our cholesterol level positively. Sometimes medication is needed.

During February, Heart Month, pay attention to your hardworking heart. These diet and fitness tips may help keep your blood cholesterol levels in check.

Maintain a healthy weight. For some people, losing weight can make a major difference in their cholesterol levels. Visit www.mypyramid.govto print out a personalized diet plan.

Read Nutrition Facts labels and compare the amounts of saturated fat and trans fat in your food choices. Try to eat less saturated fat and trans fat. Remember to read the ingredient list, too. If you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the list, most likely you are getting some trans fat in your diet, even if the product is labelled “zero trans fat.” Swap solid shortenings with oils, especially those rich in monounsaturated fats (such as canola or sunflower oil).

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Add extra veggies to your casseroles or sandwiches. Have an apple or some baby carrots for snacks. Try baked apples or pears for dessert.

Have more soluble fibre, such as the type in oatmeal, carrots and cooked dry edible beans. Try adding shredded carrots to chili or oatmeal to meatloaf or meatballs. Add some pinto, kidney or navy beans to casseroles or soups.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. During the winter, walk in malls or open gyms. Try exercise DVDs or “exer-games” that you can do at home.

About the author


Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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