Sunday, 4 August 2013

Cholesterol - the good and the bad

A healthy diet and frequent exercise can actively help to lower cholesterol levels in the blood, and decrease the chance of fatty deposits building up in the arteries and veins leading to yellow patches of skin around the eyes showing a build up of cholesterol, shortness of breath, angina, coronary heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. Around two in three adults have a higher cholesterol than is recommended in the UK, this is increased with a higher body mass and weight.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made in the body that can be found in the blood. It exists in many forms, most commonly in two main forms:

·         HDL – (High Density Lipoprotein) The protective type of cholesterol

·         LDL – (Low Density Lipoprotein) The harmful type of cholesterol

Cholesterol can be found in some food such as eggs, kidney, liver and prawns, which is known as dietary  cholesterol, however the dietary cholesterol we eat has much less effect on the blood levels of cholesterol in comparison to that inflicted by consumption of saturated fat in the diet.


How can I lower my cholesterol in five easy steps?

1.       Avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fats such as butter, ghee, meat pies, sausages and fatty cuts of meat, lard, cream, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits and food containing coconut or palm oil

2.       Replace foods that are high in saturated fat with foods high in polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat such as oily fish (recommended 2-3 portions per week), avocado, nuts and seeds, and use of sunflower, oil, corn, rapeseed and vegetable oils in cooking

3.       Eat a high fibre diet – Foods that are high in 'soluble fibre' such as porridge, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables, can help lower cholesterol

4.       Take part in regular exercise – Physical activity can help increase the levels of HDL (the protective cholesterol) in the blood

5.       Use food products rich in plant stanols or sterols  - Recent research has shown products such as ‘Flora’ and other spreads, yoghurts and milk which contain the plant stanols/sterols found in vegetable oils and spreads, nuts and legumes which help prevent the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the intestine

Foods to avoid
Why not replace with?
Butter or ghee
Margarine or spread
Butter or ghee (in cooking)
Vegetable, olive, rapeseed or corn oil
Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
Skinless chicken, quorn
Crisps, pork scratching and snacks high in
saturated fat
Baked crisps, fresh or dried fruit
Milk/white chocolate
Dark chocolate
Curries with cream or coconut milk
e.g. Korma, passanda or massala
Curries such as tandori or madras with
chicken or prawn
Dressings/cheese on salads
Balsamic vinegar or olive oil
Sauces based on cheese or cream
Sauces based on tomatoes or vegetables
Vegetables or meat that is  fried,
deep fried, and roasted
Vegetables or meat that are boiled,
steamed or grilled
Potatoes that are roasted, creamed or
fried e.g. Chips or dauphinois
Potatoes that are steamed or boiled
Sugar coated cereals
Fortified high fibre cereals
Pastries, croissants, cakes
Wholegrain/wholemeal bread

For more information concerning cholesterol see you GP or refer to the British Heart Foundation website:



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