Cholesterol and calcium are also important to a healthy lifestyle. Attention to cholesterol levels can increase health and potentially minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Cholesterol is a type of fat that is part of all animal cells. It is essential for hormone and bile production, and helps the body to utilize vitamin D.
- The body is good at making its own cholesterol so it is not necessary to consume cholesterol as part of a healthy diet.
- Cholesterol is produced by the liver and is also made by most cells in the body. It is carried around in the blood by carriers called lipoproteins.
- The Two Types of Cholesterol8
- Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL): Commonly known as the bad cholesterol. It can contribute to the formation of plaque build up in the arteries known as atherosclerosis.
- High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL): Known as the good cholesterol as it a type of fat in the blood that helps remove cholesterol from the blood stream preventing the fatty build up and formation of plaque.
Effects of High Cholesterol Levels9
The liver is the main processing center for cholesterol. When we eat animal fats, the liver returns the cholesterol it cannot use back into our bloodstream. When there is too much cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream it can build up into fatty deposits. These deposits cause the arteries to narrow and can eventually block the arteries leading to heart disease and stroke.
Foods that Contain Cholesterol
- Fatty meats.
- Full fat dairy products.
- Processed meats like salami and sausages.
- Snack foods like chips.
- Take out foods, especially those that are deep fried.
- Cakes and pastries.
Diet Tips to Help Reduce Cholesterol
- Limit the amount of cholesterol-rich foods you eat.
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain food eaten each day.
- Choose low or reduced fat milk, yogurt and other dairy products or drink “calcium added” soy .
- Choose lean meats (those that have the fat trimmed).
- Limit fatty meats and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Eat fish (canned or fresh) twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in fiber and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Lifestyle Tips Reduce Cholesterol
- Reduce your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day and avoid binge drinking.
- Do not smoke; smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into your cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly; exercise increases the HDL levels and reduces the LDL levels in the body.
- Beware of excess body fat; being overweight may contribute to elevated blood LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugar is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
For More Information About Cholesterol
- Cholesterol Information from American Heart Association
- Cholesterol Information from Mayo Clinic
- Cholesterol Information from CDC
9. Better Health Channel. (May, 2007). Fact Sheet: Cholesterol – Healthy Eating Tips. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/cholesterol
10. National Osteoporosis Foundation (1999). Prevention: Calcium Supplements. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from www.nof.org/calcium_supplements.htm