Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance produced within our liver which is essential for various processes within the body.  However, health organisations recommend a total cholesterol score of lower than 5mmol/l (<4mmol/l for those with heart disease) and explain that high cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 

There has been a mixed opinion on dietary cholesterol and how it affects your total cholesterol.  SomeMan running on beach - Heart Care research shows no change in total cholesterol when consuming dietary cholesterol and some show an increase in total cholesterol when consuming dietary cholesterol, however many health organisations stress the importance of limiting our dietary cholesterol due to its potential effect on our total cholesterol scores.

However surely if our body needs cholesterol, why should we monitor our dietary cholesterol intake?  Well, your liver already produces its own cholesterol (around 1g per day) which is more than enough for the body to function.  

So where does dietary cholesterol come from?  All dietary cholesterol comes from animal products, the biggest culprits being cheese, cream, butter, meats, seafood, and egg yolks.  The main problems with these foods are that they also contain high amounts of saturated fat. Saturated fat has an adverse effect on our health!  We know that high saturated fat diets raises your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels.

So how can we be mindful of our cholesterol levels?

Focus of getting the majority of our calories from whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  These are high in fibre, which helps to lower our cholesterol.

  • Look at the food labels, if the label shows high saturated fat, avoid eating these foods.  You shouldOily Fish Heart Care Nutrition be keeping your saturated fat intake below 20g per day. 
  • Replace food high in saturated fats, such as cheese and fatty meats for foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds and oily fish.
  • Get exercising; exercise helps to bring down your bad cholesterol.
  • There are no symptoms for high cholesterol so you need to get it checked regularly.Oily Fish Heart Care Nutrition