Eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. If you have high cholesterol levels you can improve them by following a healthy eating pattern.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood that is made by the liver. A small amount of cholesterol in the blood is important for health; however, high cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.
LDL-cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein) – known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol. It is deposited in the walls of the blood vessels causing blockages. High LDL-cholesterol levels in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
J HDL-cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein) – is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from the blood vessels back to the liver to be reused by the body. If your HDL-cholesterol level is high, this will help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
L Triglycerides are fatty substances found in your blood that are made from the fats and sugars found in food and drinks. Triglycerides can be used by your body for energy, but if there are more triglycerides produced than the body needs they are stored as body fat.
Fats in the diet
Different types of fats have different effects on cholesterol levels – some fats are healthy and some are unhealthy.
Saturated fats raise your LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, while Monounsaturated fat and Polyunsaturated fats lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and increase ‘good’ cholesterol levels.
- Saturated fat is found in animal foods like fatty meat (including deli meats), full cream dairy, butter, lard, biscuits, pastries, coconut and palm oil.
- Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil/peanut/canola oils, margarine, plant seeds, nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamias, and pistachios) and avocado.
- Polyunsaturated fat is found in sunflower/safflower/flaxseed/soybean oils, nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts), plant seeds, soybeans, tofu, oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines etc), omega 3 enriched eggs.
An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide tailored dietary advice to help you to reduce high blood cholesterol levels. For more information, visit the Nutrition service page.