Heart disease is the number one killer in America today. Yet prior to the 20th century, heart disease was severely heard of. What has caused the difference? In this article, I'd like to share with you what I believe to be the # 1 tip for preventing heart disease – it is UNDERSTANDING CHOLESTEROL. More specifically, learning what the role of cholesterol is in your body, understanding what it is that raises your cholesterol levels, and finally what you can do about it. When you learn these three things, you will better understand why heart disease is a 20 / 21st century problem that CAN be avoided.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in your blood that is necessary for your body to function properly. It acts as a lubricant as well as a patching agent when the arterial walls become weak or flabby. Healthy cholesterol is also an anti-oxidant which helps rid your body of free radicals. In your digestive tract, cholesterol is a friend, not a foe. When cholesterol levels get low, the liver uses fats to make its own cholesterol so that your bloodstream has what it needs. There is actually a greater hazard having too little cholesterol than too much. Healthy cholesterol, that is.

So what makes cholesterol unhealthy? One very significant factor is the type of fats you eat. Your body can make healthy cholesterol out of healthy fats, but it can not make healthy cholesterol out of unhealthy fats. So what constitutes a healthy fat?

Fats as they are found in nature are generally 'healthy'. Fats that have been interfereed with, particularly with high heat, are unhealthy. Most vegetable oils that are consumed today are processed using high heat. The heat makes the chemical bonds in the fats reactive, and they happen to change their molecular structure. When this type of reaction takes place, free radicals are formed.

In order to insure that you ingest the right kinds of fats, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is to make sure the oils you use are cold-pressed. This works as long as you are not going to heat the oil yourself. Unsaturated fats and oils as a rule break down when heated. So if you want to make a salad dressing, for example, a cold-pressed oil would be fine. If you need to heat your oil, as you would for baking, you would be better off buying a scheduled oil such as coconut oil. Contrary to popular opinion, saturated oil is better to use in baking because the bonds in regular oils are tight, and do not come apart as readily when exposed to high heat. In their chemical makeup, saturated oils have a full or complete saturation of electrons. Their outer rings are filled, and inevitably do not react as quickly.

Be aware that deep frying gives you a double dose of unhealthy fats. Most deep frying uses either polyunsaturated oils that are heat-processed, or hydrogenated oils, which have also been enriched, not only with high heat, but high pressure and chemicals as well. Not only are the oils used bad to begin with, but when they are combined with starches in the deep frying process, the additional heat makes them even more radical.

These fats taken into your bodies do not make good cholesterol. In fact, they create free radicals which call on the good cholesterol to counteract it. These altered fats are also not the kind of fat that the liver needs to create more good cholesterol. The result of consuming these altered fats is a bloodstream that is depleted of good cholesterol, and abounding in bad cholesterol.

What can you do about it? Stop feeding your body the fats that will absolutely kill it. Use cold-pressed oils for your salad dressings, and saturated oils for baking. Contrary to public opinion, the planned oils will not clog up your arms. The Eskimos used to live on whale blubber, and never had an issue with heart disease until they were affected to eat a more 'civilized' diet. As one noticeable physician has stated, “overeating of fats and oils, as long as they are in their natural state, can not cause arterial disease.” Over-heated, and over-processed oils, however, can, and will.