Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Cholesterol?

1. Controlling your cholesterol will help prevent which of the following conditions?

a. Heart failure

b. Angina (chest pain)

c. Stroke

d. All of the above

2. Which of these steps will do the MOST to help lower your cholesterol level?

a. Choosing foods low in cholesterol

b. Choosing foods low in saturated fat

c. Choosing foods low in monounsaturated fat

d. Choosing foods low in polyunsaturated fat

3. What's the best measure of your risk for a heart attack?

a. Your total cholesterol level

b. Your HDL, or good cholesterol

c. Your LDL, or bad cholesterol

d. Your cholesterol ratio

4. Which of these will help you control your cholesterol levels?

a. Regular exercise

b. Avoiding cigarettes

c. Alcohol in moderation

d. All of the above

5. Which of these foods contains the most cholesterol?

a. Three ounces of chicken (white meat, no skin)

b. One tablespoon of butter

c. One ounce of cheese

d. One large egg

6. Saturated fat is a villain when it comes to raising cholesterol levels. Which dish is highest in it?

a. Dinner of two pork chops and mashed potatoes with butter

b. Breakfast of two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and two pancakes

c. Starbucks Cinnamon Scone

d. Starbuck's White Chocolate Mocha

e. Large order of cheese fries with Ranch dressing

Your Results

1. Controlling your cholesterol will help prevent which of the following conditions?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above.

If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can start sticking to the walls of your arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. If the arteries that feed your heart become clogged, you can suffer angina, heart attack, or stroke. Heart attacks, in turn, often lead to heart failure.

2. Which of these steps will do the MOST to help lower your cholesterol level?

The correct answer is: b. Choosing foods low in saturated fat.

Almost nothing in your diet, not even cholesterol, will boost your cholesterol levels faster than saturated fats. (The one possible exception is trans fatty acids, which shows up in snack foods as "partially hydrogenated oils" and increases bad cholesterol while lowering the good kind.) The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 7 percent of your calories from saturated fats. To reach this goal, you should go easy on fried foods, fatty meats, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or 2 percent milk.

3. What's the best measure of your risk for a heart attack?

The correct answer is: c. Your LDL, or bad cholesterol.

All of these measurements are helpful, but your LDL level tells the most important story. LDL cholesterol is the stuff that actually clogs the arteries, and high concentrations of it pose a direct threat to your heart. You want to keep your LDL within the target level that's right for you, which depends on your situation: If you don't already have coronary heart disease and if you have fewer than two of the major risk factors -- obesity, high blood pressure, or a family history of premature heart trouble -- your LDL cholesterol should be under 100). If you already have coronary artery disease or diabetes mellitus and your LDL is equal to or over 100, your doctor will probably recommend you take cholesterol-lowering drugs to get your LDL below the 100 mark.

4. Which of these will help you control your cholesterol levels?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above.

All of these steps along with cutting down on saturated fats and trans fats -- provide powerful protection to the heart. Regular workouts can lower your LDL cholesterol while boosting your HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that helps keep your arteries clear. Within two or three years of quitting cigarettes, your risk for a heart attack will be the same as that of a person who never smoked; among its many other evils, smoking will deplete your reserves of good cholesterol. Cutting down on saturated fats will help control your cholesterol. As for alcohol, moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women, and up to two a day for men) is thought to raise HDL good cholesterol. But if you drink, do so in moderation --too much alcohol is bad for the heart. And if you don't drink at all, that's fine: Because of the many health problems associated with alcohol abuse, the American Heart Association does not recommend that people who abstain from alcohol begin drinking.

5. Which of these foods contains the most cholesterol?

The correct answer is: d. A single large egg yolk.

Cholesterol may not be as dangerous as saturated fat, but it's still worth watching. Three ounces of chicken has about 65 milligrams of cholesterol, roughly twice as much as the other choices. For comparison, a single large egg yolk has about 250 mg. The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 300 mg a day, or less than 200 if you already have heart disease. If you don't have heart disease, this means no more than 3-4 whole eggs a week.

6. Saturated fat is a villain when it comes to raising cholesterol levels. Which dish is highest in it?

The correct answer is: e: A large order of cheese fries with Ranch dressing.

This side dish has no less than 3,000 calories (one and a half times as much as most people need in an entire day) and four day's worth of artery-clogging saturated fat, according to an investigation by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). All the dishes on this list are high in saturated fat, but watch out for the baked goods: they're loaded with butter, eggs, and other hidden fats. A Starbucks Cinnamon Scone, for example, has nearly as much fat as the dinner with two pork chops and mashed potatoes with butter; it also has two-thirds of a day's worth of saturated fat, according to the CSPI, which calls our mall foods sweets on steroids. A pecan roll from Au Bon Pain actually has MORE saturated fat than a breakfast of two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and two pancakes, says CSPI. Likewise, it says Starbuck's White Chocolate Mocha is more like a milkshake than a coffee: it will pack on 600 or so calories and three-quarters of a day's worth of saturated fat!

References

National Institutes of Health. "Update on Cholesterol Guidelines: More-Intensive Treatment Options for Higher Risk Patients."

High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know. NIH Publication No. 01-3290

Food for Thought. National Cholesterol Education Program

Cholesterol. American Heart Association.

American Heart Association. Cholesterol: AHA Scientific Opinion.

American Heart Association. What Are Healthy Levels of Cholesterol?

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