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  September Health News
   September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month
  • Lowering Cholesterol Levels
  • Why You Need to Keep Taking Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Meds
  • Combating Cholesterol: Fight it With Food
  • Dr. Oz video: Boost Your Energy
  • UHC TV
  • Monthly Health Tip: Take the Stairs
  • Monthly Recipe
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Lowering Cholesterol Levels


Americans overall have better control of their cholesterol, but we’re not out of the woods.

It’s no secret that the United States could stand to collectively shed a few pounds. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. But a few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a bit of good news. Although Americans’ waistlines are expanding, cholesterol levels are actually going down. According to the CDC, 13.4 percent of American adults now have high total cholesterol (higher than 240 mg/dL) compared with 18.3 percent a few years ago. High total cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.


Cholesterol, a fat-like substance in the blood, is needed to function properly. But having too much can cause plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. But the decrease in cholesterol levels doesn’t mean Americans, who suffer more than a million heart attacks each year, should breathe easy.


“That is good news, but we are not out of the woods,” says Dr. Nathan Wong, director of the University of California, Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program and immediate past president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology. “There are many other risk factors for heart disease, particularly elevated obesity." Cholesterol, says Wong, is just one piece of the puzzle when dealing with a person’s heart health. “A patient’s cholesterol levels might be under control, but other risk factors may not be,” Wong says. “Blood pressure or blood glucose numbers, for instance, might be high.”


While many people can control cholesterol levels with a heart-healthy lifestyle, Wong says he has no doubt that statins, which have been on the U.S. market for 20 years, have contributed to lower cholesterol levels. He also suspects that more people are avoiding high-fat foods — especially red meat — that have contributed to high cholesterol levels. But, he cautions, there is still significant room for improvement. “Calorie consumption is not ideal, physical activity levels are not ideal,” Wong says. “Portion sizes continue to get bigger and obesity is still on the rise.” The American Heart Association’s campaign, Life’s Simple 7, promotes getting active, controlling cholesterol, losing weight, eating better, lowering blood pressure and quitting smoking. Wong suggests everyone follow its rules to help keep heart disease at bay. Learn more about the program at mylifecheck.heart.org.

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Why You Need to Keep Taking Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Meds


Tempted to stop taking your medication? It may feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, but that decision could be life-threatening.

Those pills for your blood pressure or cholesterol may be a pain to remember. Besides, you feel fine. So why bother taking them? Well, for a very good reason. According to the American Heart Association, tens of thousands of deaths, hospital admissions and slow recoveries from illness each year result from people not following their doctors’ advice. Just because high blood pressure and high cholesterol have no symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t need medication. Remember that high blood pressure does not have a cure. So if you’re on medication for it, you’ll probably need to stay on it for the rest of your life.


Medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol can help you avoid a heart attack or stroke by slowing down the progression of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and even reversing some of its harmful effects. The drugs may not change the way you feel right now, but they can save your life.

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Combating Cholesterol: Fight it With Food


Adding certain foods to your diet may actually help to lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk for heart disease.

You know the rules. Eat less red meat, cheese and butter. Limit fried foods.
Avoid trans fats. With so many things to cut out, what's left to eat?

While heart-healthy eating includes lots of "no's," there are plenty of delicious foods you can eat without guilt. What's more, adding certain foods to your diet may actually help to lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk for heart disease.

Unless you have a strong family history of high cholesterol, changing your diet is often enough to lower cholesterol to a healthy level. The key? You need to work certain foods into your diet - not just once in a while, but every day.

So get your shopping list ready! The foods listed below have a high soluble fiber content (and rich nutrients), or a healthy fat ratio. Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol, helping to remove it from the body. Certain fats, when replacing saturated and trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels.


Oatmeal (and oat bran)

  • Take a half-cup of old-fashioned oats and add a couple of tablespoons of oat bran, some skim or soy milk (instead of water) and a sprinkle of ground flaxseeds.
  • Add a small handful of walnuts, sliced banana or chopped apple and a teaspoon of maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.


Carrots/yams/sweet potatoes

  • Blend with chicken broth and sautéed onions for a creamy low-fat soup.
  • Bake or mash, then add trans-fat-free margarine and cinnamon.
  • Roast with onions and parsnips.


Brussels sprouts

  • Sauté with leeks and garlic.
  • Bake in a casserole with brown rice and shredded low-fat cheese.
  • Roast with onions and add a dash of grated Parmesan.


Dried apricots/prunes

  • Mix with nuts for a quick afternoon snack.
  • Chop into cereal.
  • Dice and add to chicken salad.



  • Blend fresh or frozen into smoothies.
  • Add to cold cereal.
  • Top with low-fat sour cream or yogurt.
  • Add to low-fat cottage cheese and top with sesame seeds or nuts.


Apples and pears

  • Slice and eat with a smear of natural peanut butter.
  • Chop and add to tuna salad.
  • Bake and eat for dessert with a sprinkle of walnuts and cinnamon.



  • Add chickpeas or kidney beans to your salad.
  • Make a hearty split pea soup.
  • Enjoy a lentil curry.
  • Mix pinto beans and brown rice with onions and stewed tomatoes.


Olive oil

  • Use as a base for salad dressing with lemon or lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Use to sauté your favorite vegetables.
  • Add to diced potatoes and roast with fresh pepper, onion and garlic powder.



  • Spread onto toasted whole-grain bread and top with sliced tomato.
  • Mash for guacamole.
  • Chop into salads.
  • Slice and add to a turkey sandwich instead of mayo.


Walnuts and almonds

  • Bake into quickbreads.
  • Add to cold or hot cereal.
  • Eat a handful with a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.
  • Chop and sprinkle on a whole-wheat English muffin with light cream cheese.


Salmon and other fatty fish

  • Bake with a topping of low-fat sour cream, mustard and dill.
  • Add cold fish to a mixed green salad.
  • Make salmon cakes with fresh or canned salmon.


Flaxseeds (ground) and psyllium seeds

  • Blend into smoothies.
  • Mix into hot/cold cereal.
  • Use as a topping for yogurt.


No one food or supplement can work miracles, but upping your intake of nutritious foods can make a big difference in your cholesterol level. However, remember that any successful strategy must combine healthy eating, diligent exercise and stress reduction.

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Relevant, educational and entertaining video programs that can inspire you to live a healthier life.


Watch UHC.TV >

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Better Health with Dr. Oz: Boost Your Energy

By afternoon, do you feel like you're grinding down to a halt? View this link for some tricks to get your energy back.

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September Health Tip:


Take the stairs: walking two flights a day could help you lose 6 pounds a year.

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September Healthy Recipe: Roasted Pecan Salmon


Pair with either a baked sweet potato or brown rice, add a salad or vegetable, and you’ve got yourself a healthy, delicious meal.

4 salmon filets (4-6 oz. each)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. seasoned breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
1 tsp. parsley
Wedges of fresh lemon

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on baking sheet. Combine mustard and honey, brush on top of salmon. Mix topping of breadcrumbs, nuts, and parsley and sprinkle over salmon.


Bake at 400ºF 10-15 minutes or until flaky. Serve with wedges of fresh lemon.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 265 - Fat: 12 g
Carbohydrate: 9 g - Protein: 29 g
Sodium: 282 mg - Fiber: 4 g

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