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Cholesterol

 

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is needed for metabolic processes and for making cells, vitamins and hormones. Cholesterol is found in animal based foods such as eggs, prawns and meat, however our liver is also able to produce cholesterol itself.      

 

Too much cholesterol in the blood (hypercholesterolemia) causes fatty deposits (plaques) to stick to the walls of arteries, increasing blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke. Risk factors for developing hypercholesterolemia include a family history, being overweight or having a high fat diet.      

 

There are two types of cholesterol; LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol as it contributes to artery blockage, and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) also known as ‘good’ cholesterol as it protects against plaque build up. Testing your cholesterol levels is done with a fasting blood test (ideally abstain from food or drink for ~10hours prior to test).

 

Pathology ranges are as follows:  

 

Reference Range (mmol/L)  

 

Total cholesterol  

<5.5  

 

HDL cholesterol  

>1.0  

 

LDL cholesterol  

<2.0  

   

Managing cholesterol is important to protect against cardiovascular disease, gall stones and fatty liver disease. In addition to weight management and exercise, your Health Professional may advise you to:  

 

Limit saturated fats

Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet will directly reduce the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Research also shows that cholesterol levels are much more sensitive to saturated fat levels as opposed to dietary cholesterol meaning reducing saturated fat intake will reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol produced by the liver. Try to limit foods high in saturated fat such as fatty meats, full fat dairy products and processed foods such as take away, chips and bakery goods.  

 

Fish

The unsaturated omega-3 fats found in fish have been shown to be protective against heart disease as it can improve ‘good’ HDL levels and reduce ‘bad’ LDL levels. Recommendations are to have oily fish (such as salmon or mackerel) 2-3 times per week.  

 

Fibre  

Increasing fibre in your diet can increase cholesterol elimination and reduce its re-absorption back into the bloodstream. Aim to have a diet rich in high fibre staples such as fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds and legumes.  

 

Eggs  

As eggs are an animal product, they do contain cholesterol. The Heart Foundation advises that the small amount of cholesterol in eggs has a minimal effect of LDL cholesterol and that it is acceptable to have up to six eggs each week as part of a healthy diet.  

 

Medication  

If dietary measures are unable to maintain cholesterol levels within normal ranges, your health professional may prescribe medications that reduce LDL cholesterol or increase cholesterol excretion.  

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.  

 

Source: 

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Cholesterol_explained

DAA http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/cholesterol/

Heart Foundation http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/fats/Pages/cholesterol.aspx

 

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