Diet, Exercise, and Cholesterol:
Proper exercise and diet indeed affect more than weight. Research has shown that a low-fat diet that contains 30 percent or less of calories from fat is associated with low levels of serum cholesterol, one of the major risk factors of heart disease. In addition to this, exercise usually appears to have a separate effect of raising the level of ''good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Lowering total cholesterol and raising HDL-C reduces the risk of heart disease. Once you have analyzed your body composition and distribution of body fat, you are in a position to determine your target weight and plan a fitness program to achieve it. Through a combination of diet and exercise, you can attain your target weight while improving your health status in the process.
As a society, we have a love-hate relationship with food. Two of the best-selling types of books are those dealing with cooking and dieting. Poor eating habits are a major cause of many health problems.
Our relationship to food has changed dramatically from that of our earliest ancestors. Like other primates, our ancestors were herbivores, feeding on leaves, roots, seeds, and fruits. Because the foraging and grazing necessary for survival required them to travel long distances, food was clearly the most important part of their existence. Later, as humans learned to cultivate land and raise and store crops, food became a trading commodity and was used in a social/religious context in celebrations and offerings. As the availability of food increased, eating habits changed too. The innovation of primitive tools along with the firearms made possible the eating of meats. However, grains, vegetables, and fruits dominated our diets long after settlements up to modern times when the influence of commercialism surpassed that of education. Interestingly, like other herbivores (e.g., sheep, monkeys) our intestines are much longer than the intestines of mammals that feed on flesh (carnivores) and gorge themselves at feedings (e.g., dogs, wolves). Although all the carnivores have shorter intestines and feed mainly on protein and fat, they rarely develop arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, or stroke as humans do. This is due to their active lives as predators and their gorging, which is a way of fattening up to survive long fasts during lean periods (e.g., winters in the north or the dry summers of Africa). In other words, their eating habits are related to their climates, environments, and active lifestyles all of which change in captivity (e.g., a zoo), making them prone to cardiovascular disease in such settings.