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Happy Chanukah! (save the oil)

Tonight heralds Chanukah, the 8-day Jewish festival of lights.  Because that light came from oil, celebrating Chanukah traditionally includes eating foods fried in oil.  This year choose an oil low in cholesterol and saturated fats.  Elevated cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.  The good news is that lowering your cholesterol clearly reduces your risk for coronary heart disease and stroke.  If your cholesterol is markedly elevated, you can be comforted by the fact that lowering your cholesterol by as little as 10% can have an important impact on reducing your risk of dying of a heart attack.

It's easy for people to get confused when they hear about the "good cholesterol" and the "bad cholesterol".  For both women and men, lowering the LDL-that's the bad cholesterol-and lowering the triglycerides are important, but for women in particular, triglycerides have been shown to be of a special importance.  HDL is generally higher in women and can be raised further in those who exercise or in those menopausal women who take estrogen. 

Dietary management of cholesterol is important, but for those who need it, there are several cholesterol lowering medications available. As a result, people often ask why they can't just eat whatever they want and take more medicine to control their cholesterol!  While it's true that these medications are very effective, they are not "miracle pills":  they all have their limitations and their side effects.  In the field of cholesterol management, the goal is to use a judicious combination of diet, exercise and medication in order to wean each person to their lowest effective dose. . .or eventually, to none at all.

Created: 12/19/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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