Nearly 50 million Americans have high cholesterol. There are two kinds of cholesterol_ HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). HDL is often called the "good" kind of cholesterol because it helps remove unwanted cholesterol from the body. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol made up primarily of fat, and is a particular risk factor for heart disease. So when setting out to lower your cholesterol, you need to know your HDL number, your LDL number, and your total cholesterol number.

This chart will provide you with some helpful information:

Many studies have shown that fiber can slow the liver's manufacture of cholesterol, as well as modify LDL particles to make them larger and less dense. Researchers believe that small, dense LDL particles pose a bigger health threat.

The American Dietetic Associationrecommends that Americans eat 20-35 grams of fiber per day. Here are some fiber-filled foods to help lower cholesterol:

• Oat/oat bran/whole-wheat products • Dried beans and peas • Nuts • Barley • Flax seed • Fruits such as apples and pears • Vegetables such as carrots and broccoli The key to improve overall health is not only dieting, but making physical activity a part of your daily routine. Regular physical activity is key to keeping your cholesterol low. Aerobic exercise may improve insulin sensitivity, HDL, and triglyceride levels, and may reduce your heart risk. People who exercise and control their diet appear to be more successful in long-term lifestyle modifications that improve their heart risk profile.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto