Fats & Cholesterol
Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carried in our blood. All cells in our body require cholesterol for many processes, such as hormone production and helping our body use Vitamin D. Our body generally makes all the cholesterol we need, thus there’s no need to eat foods high in cholesterol. In fact, having too much cholesterol in our blood stream puts us at higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Cholesterol and Triglycerides - The Good & The Bad
LDL Cholesterol (Low-density lipoproteins)
LDLs are known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. LDLs carry cholesterol to body tissues that require it. High levels of LDLs in our body could result in cholesterol building up in our blood vessels and thus blocking blood flow. The Heart Foundation recommends LDL levels should be less than2.5mmol/L.
HDL Cholesterol (High-density lipoproteins)
HDLs are known as ‘good’ cholesterol. HDLs carry cholesterol from our body tissues to the liver, where cholesterol can be removed from our blood. The Heart Foundation recommends HDL levels should be greater than 1.0 mmol/L.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood which gets carried to our body tissues and gets stored for energy. Excess triglycerides (fat) in our body can lead to problems such as blocked blood vessels, diabetes and weight gain. The Heart Foundation recommends Triglyceride levels should be less than 1.5mmol/L.
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be lowered with healthy eating, lifestyle changes and medications.
- Eat regular, healthy meals that include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods. Also try to include foods such as nuts, legumes, oats and seeds in your diet.
- The National Health and Media Research Council recommends a daily fibre intake of at least 30 grams per day. You can increase your fibre in your diet by using a daily fibre supplement, such as Metamucil Orange Granular Powder.
- Limit foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt.
- Sunflower, vegetable and olive oils are suitable for dressings and cooking.
- Choose low or reduced fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Limit the amount of fatty meats, such as salami and sausages, you have in your diet. Choose leaner meat instead, such as turkey breast, cooked lean chicken, or ‘heart smart’ meat.
- Use low fat cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, steaming or boiling instead of frying.
- Have fish (especially tuna, salmon or sardines) at least twice a week.
- Plant sterols, found naturally in plant foods such as sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, nuts and legumes, may help to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Blackmores Cholesterol Health capsules provides a daily dose of 2 grams of plant sterols to help maintain the good to bad cholesterol ratio within the normal range.
- For oils, margarines and other similar foods that are nearly 100% fat, look for those with less than 20g of saturated fat per 100g.
- For other foods, if they have less than 2g of saturated fat per 100g they are probably a good choice for your blood cholesterol.
- Try to limit the amount of takeaway foods, sweets, chocolate and potato chips you eat.
- Exercise regularly. It is recommended that you include at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Exercise may help to increase the ‘good’ cholesterol (HDLs) and lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDLs) and triglyceride levels in your body.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the ability for ‘bad’ cholesterol to get into your artery cells and cause damage.
- Limit alcohol. It is recommended that for healthy men and women, reduce your alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks on any day, with some alcohol-free days every week.
- Achieve and maintain your ideal body weight. Your Body Mass Index can be calculated by your local Advantage Pharmacist. Being overweight may contribute to raised ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body.