GET TO KNOW YOUR CHOLESTEROL CHOLESTEROL WHAT IS IT?
IF OUR BODY MAKES IT, WHY IS THERE A PROBLEM?
Cholesterol is produced naturally by your liver to help protect your nerves, produce hormones and make new cell tissues1. You have different kinds of cholesterol – HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). LDL and VLDL is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that sticks to your blood vessels (known as plaque) which can lead to heart disease. HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol that ‘cleans out’ the bad cholesterol a bit like ‘Drano’ through a clogged sink.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
When you eat saturated fats (fats that are solid at room temperature like on the last big steak you ate) they increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) in your system, your LDL cholesterol goes up and even more sticky plaque builds up. The good news is that the reverse is also true, when you consume good cholesterol (HDL) like the last piece of fish you ate, the balance is maintained and your blood vessels stay clean2.
Your doctor can tell you your cholesterol levels (not by just looking at you…a small prick of blood is needed). They will look at the balance of good and bad, and tell you if you have a healthy, borderline or dangerous cholesterol reading.
LEAN AND MEAN
Eating lean meat (where the fat isn’t present or has been trimmed off) reduces your bad cholesterol intake. Skinless chicken and turkey breast, lean pork and lamb cutlets and trimmed beef steak are all great protein sources and really good for your cholesterol.
GET ON THE STEROLS A lot of foods now have added plant sterols. While these sound like they should be sold in the laneway out the back of a gym by a guy with no neck, they are in fact a naturally occurring part of all plants that actively reduce your body’s absorption of bad cholesterol (LDL)5. So look for food that has been enriched with plant sterols (it will say so on the packet/bottle/tub).
Research shows that if you skip breakfast you’re 27% more likely to have heart problems than if you started the day with a meal3. What you eat is important too – foods high in soluble fibre (fibre that the body can break down) such as oatmeal and oat bran help actively reduce bad cholesterol4.
TOP TIPS FOR A HEALTHY CHOLESTEROL BALANCE 3
GO NUTS Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts and walnuts can help you manage your cholesterol because they’re rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (the good fat that helps increase the good HDL cholesterol) that keep your blood vessels healthy4. Try and eat a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) every day.
Sources: 1. McNamara, D. (2013). Cholesterol: Sources, Absorption, Function, and Metabolism. Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition (Third Edition). 341-345. 2. Bhupathiraju, S., Tucker, L. (2011). Coronary heart disease Prevention: Nutrients, foods and dietary patterns. Clinica Chemica Acta. 412 (17-18): 1493-1514. 3. Cahil et al. (2013). Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Circulation. 128: 337-343 4. Hu, F. (2008). Diet and Heart Disease. Elsevier Inc. 181-190. 5. Calpe-Berdiel et al. (2009). New insights into the molecular actions of plant sterols and stanols in cholesterol metabolism. Atherosclerosis. 203 (1): 18-31.
GET A BIT FISHY 2
Eat at least 2 serves of oily fish a week. The Omega 3 in these fish increases your good cholesterol, protects against blood clots, and can help reduce your blood pressure2. Fish you should go for include tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout, herring and sardines.