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Up Close and Personal With Cholesterol


Today's snack: Let's scrub the insides of those arteries with some crunchy veggies. Go for a colorful mixture of broccoli flowerets, celery sticks, carrot sticks, red pepper slices, and a slice or two of jicama.







Section of flexible, clear, plastic tubing

Cup or glass



Access to running water

Pipe cleaner

Paper towel



A little bit of "sticky" food like butter and shortening is OK in anybody's diet. But ohhhhhhh, if you eat too much in everything from pancakes to cookies to breads and crackers, you could wind up with a sticky substance called "cholesterol" left on the inside of your veins and arteries.


That build-up makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through those veins and arteries, and eventually, you could develop a very deadly disease: heart disease.


So it's a lot better to watch your food intake carefully, and try to minimize foods that have sticky shortening and lots of butter or cream. Instead, crunchy fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and many other delicious foods are better for your heart health and keeping your circulation system clean and clear.


Let's take a close-up look at the process of cholesterol sticking to the inside of our blood vessels. First, put your finger over the bottom of your tubing, fill your tubing with water, and then take your finger away so that the water can fall right into the cup. See how fast it ran in there? OK, now pour that water out. Take a Q-tip and deposit shortening inside your length of tubing. Push the shortening in there from both ends. Now plug one end again with your finger, and fill it with water. It won't take as much now, will it? Take your finger away and let the water run into your cup. It doesn't come out as fast, does it? It gets hung up inside the tubing because of that sticky shortening.


Of course, cholesterol stuck to the inside of your blood vessels isn't quite as thick as the shortening in this experiment, but you can get the general idea.


Now hold the tubing under running water for a few seconds and see how much of the shortening cleaned out because of the water pressure. Not much, eh?


It's really, really hard to get rid of cholesterol once it's there. You can't just clean it out!


But take your pipe cleaner and rub away as much of the shortening as you can. Deposit extra shortening on a paper towel, and work on your tubing some more. Does it ever get as crystal-clear as when you started? No. That's why it's such a good idea to AVOID high-cholesterol foods BEFORE you get that sticky buildup on your blood vessels!


Blood vessels that grow too narrow or have too much obstruction may require a medical procedure known as "angioplasty" to keep the blood flowing through the vessel well. But you can do a lot to avoid that trouble by eating the right kinds of foods, and pass up a lot of the sweet and sticky foods, BEFORE you get your heart health into a . . . STICKY situation.



By Susan Darst Williams Health 04 2009


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