You could lower your cholesterol by up to 25 per cent just by changing your diet. HFG has the figures you need to know.
Consuming 2-3g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by an average of 10 per cent in two-to-three weeks. Plant sterols have a similar structure to cholesterol, so they help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your digestive tract — which means more is lost in your stools. Flora pro-activ spreads and Weet-Bix Cholesterol Lowering products contain added sterols.
You can eat6-7 eggs each week. At one time two eggs per week was the recommendation, due to the cholesterol they contain — but it’s now known that people without inherited raised cholesterol don’t need to restrict their egg intake.
According to the Heart Foundation, to maintain your heart health you should limit daily saturated fat intake to 16g. This equates to 7 per cent of your total daily kilojoule intake. Currently Australians are eating about 28g of saturated fat per day — 70 per cent more than this recommendation. Saturated fat is converted in our liver to ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
One in three Australians have elevated cholesterol levels. Aim for a total cholesterol less than 5.5mmol/L. You can improve the ratio of your ‘good’ HDL versus ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol through diet and lifestyle changes. In some cases, your GP will also prescribe medication.
You could reduce bad LDL cholesterol by around 3 per cent by eating 30g of nuts a day. Pop a handful of unsalted mixed nuts in a zip-lock bag to snack on during the day.
You need 20g soluble fibre daily to lower cholesterol by 5-10 per cent. Oats provide beta-glucan, a type of fibre that dissolves with water in the stomach and intestines, then forms a gel like a wallpaper paste. This sweeps up cholesterol in the gut and out of the body via your stools. Legumes also boost soluble fibre — so, replace some or all of the meat in recipes with lentils, chickpeas or beans.
Eat 150g of oily fish two to three times a weekto help lower blood pressure and cut cholesterol build-up in arteries. Salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh or canned tuna are rich in omega-3 fats, which are known to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The maximum amount of added sugars adults should have daily is 6 teaspoons. Consuming too many refined carbohydrates raises bad LDL cholesterol. This includes natural sugars, such as honey, fruit juice and maple syrup, which still add to your daily maximum, no matter how they’re described on packaging. The sugars in whole fruit, however, don’t count.
One in 300 Australians have inherited high cholesterol– or familial hypercholesterolaemia. This means they’re born with a gene that elevates cholesterol, especially the unhealthy LDL cholesterol. Doctors usually prescribe medication, along with diet and lifestyle changes, to reduce cholesterol.
High cholesterol: The facts!
One in three Australians has high cholesterol
Many people have never even been tested for it
High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease and strokes
Foods high in saturated fat raise bad LDL cholesterol