|Date Added: Oct 3, 2013|
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Cholesterol is a white waxy substance found in every cell of our bodies.
It comes from
• The liver – our body makes most of it from the fat we eat in food
• A little from our diet (e.g. naturally occurring in animal foods)
We need it to
• Form cell walls
• Make certain hormones and vitamins
• Help digest fat
Cholesterol plays a vital role in the day-to-day functioning of your body. However, too much cholesterol can affect your heart health.
Cholesterol travels around the bloodstream in special carriers:
• LDL-cholesterol – ‘bad’ cholesterol
• HDL-cholesterol – ‘good’ cholesterol
Most cholesterol is made in the liver and a small amount comes from the diet. Too much ‘bad’ fat (saturated and trans fat) is not good for cholesterol. Replacing ‘bad’ fats with ‘good’ fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) can help manage cholesterol.
Recommended Cholesterol Levels The Heart Foundation of New Zealand recommends that for individuals, total cholesterol should ideally be less than 4.0 mmol/L.1
1. The New Zealand Guidelines Group, the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand. The assessment and management of cardiovascular risk: Evidence-based best practice guideline. New Zealand Guidelines Group, December
CHOLESTEROL AND BEING HEART HEALTHY
Cholesterol only becomes a problem when there is more than your body needs. It can cause the build up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, reducing blood flow, and may then become a problem for your heart health. Other risk factors that affect your heart health are:
• Age and gender
• If you smoke
• Blood pressure
• Blood sugar
• If you have a family history
of premature heart problems
Health care professionals can calculate the likelihood of you having heart problems within the next 10 years by taking these factors into account. See your health care professional for more information.
How can I manage my cholesterol?
• Eat a heart healthy diet
• Keep active
• Be the right weight and shape.
See our heart healthy eating tips section.
DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE ‘GOOD’ AND ‘BAD’ FATS?
Not all fat is ‘bad’ and we need some fat:
• Because it is an important source of energy
• To supply essential fats which cannot be made by the body
• To help absorb fat-soluble vitamins
• To add taste and flavour to our food
Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are called ‘good’ fats because they can help cholesterol.
Saturated fats and trans fats are called ‘bad’ fats as they are not good for cholesterol.
You need to eat less of the ‘bad’ fats and replace them with more ‘good’ fats to help keep your heart healthy.
Plant sterols naturally occur in small quantities in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, grain products, fruit and vegetables. Plant sterols are an active ingredient clinically proven to significantly reduce cholesterol absorption from food. They also prevent the reabsorption of cholesterol within the body. Eating 2g of plant sterols daily can reduce cholesterol absorption by up to 10-15% when also moving to a healthy diet.
HEART HEALTHY EATING TIPS:
• Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods every day. Occasional treats can be incorporated into your menu in sensible amounts.
• Eat smaller portions from smaller plates and avoid second helpings.
• Aim to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables per day.
• Choose wholegrain varieties of cereal, bread, rice, pasta and noodles where possible.
• Select reduced fat yoghurts, milks, cheeses and other dairy foods.
• Choose lean cuts of meat and trim visible fat.
• Aim for two to three servings of oily fish (~150g/serve) per week (e.g. fresh or canned tuna, salmon or sardines).
• Swap butter for a healthier spread higher in ‘good’ polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and lower in ‘bad’ saturated and trans fats.
• Cut down on salt. Use herbs and spices to add flavour to your food instead. Choose foods with the Heart Foundation Tick where possible.
• Enjoy home cooked food as often as possible rather than relying too much on fast food.
• If cholesterol is a problem for you, choose foods enriched with plant sterols e.g. Flora pro-activ. Plant sterolsare clinically proven to actively lower cholesterol absorption.
HEART HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS
• Avoid smoking.
• If you drink alcohol, have no more than two standard drinks on any day, and some alcohol free days each week. Drink plenty of water every day.
• Get active! About 30 minutes of ‘moderate- intensity’ activity like brisk walking on most days is recommended. Choose something you enjoy and be realistic.
• Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
• Learn simple techniques to control your stress and take time to relax.