alex royal diet

Cholesterol – the good, the bad and the ugly….

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the body, naturally. However due to genetics and diet too much can be produced, which can block the arteries, leading to cardiac or vascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol levels are assessed looking at the total cholesterol which is divided into different types as shown below:

Type Target
Total cholesterol Below 5
LDL (Bad) causing plague & heart disease Below 2.6
HDL (Good) helps reduce LDL cholesterol & prevent heart disease Above 1.1 in men and 1.4 in females
Triglycerides Below 1.7
Total cholesterol to HDL ratio Below 4:1

Fats in the diet can influence the different cholesterol levels.

Saturated fat increases the LDL (bad) cholesterol and should be avoided. Such fats are found in mainly animal products:

  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese (especially in hard dark yellow cheeses like cheddar and gouda)
  • Chicken skin
  • Fat on or marbled in meat
  • Fried foods
  • Take-away foods
  • Chocolates, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, crisps

Unsaturated fat (poly- and mono-) increases HDL (good) cholesterol and should be eaten in place of saturated fats. Such fats are mainly plant products or oily fish:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive and canola oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, pilchards
  • Soft tub margarine

Other points to decrease cholesterol / your heart disease risk:

  • Eat soluble fibre, which reduces the body’s production of cholesterol. This is found in oats, legumes and the flesh part of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat stanols and sterols found in Proactive margarine and Benecol drinking yoghurt (Woolworths)
  • Take an omega 3 supplement if you eat oily fish less than 3 times per week
  • Exercise
  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce stress in your life

Remember that having  high cholesterol won’t appear as a read flag warning you – it is one of the “silent killers” and this is why regular check ups are important. But don’t despair, if you do have high cholesterol diet can reduce cholesterol by 30 – 35%. So go get checked and good luck.

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