Eat Wisely To Protect Your Heart!
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that our body needs to help us absorb nutrients from the foods we eat, make hormones, build cells, and make vitamin D. Cholesterol becomes a concern when there is too much of it in our blood. This may lead to problems such as heart disease and stroke.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol in our body, carried through our blood in chemical packages called lipoproteins:
- The “bad” type of cholesterol is carried by LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which brings cholesterol to the blood and clogs arteries.
- The “good” type of cholesterol is carried by HDL (high density lipoprotein) which removes cholesterol from the blood stream.
Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Saturated fats come from animal sources and are usually solid at room temperature. Foods such as butter, poultry, animal meat, and dairy products are high in saturated fats.
Unsaturated fats come from plant sources, and are usually liquid at room temperature. These fats, like vegetable oils, tend to lower cholesterol levels in the body. It’s wise to replace some of the saturated fats in your diet with the unsaturated fats.
What are Hydrogenated Fats?
Hydrogenated fats are formed when liquid, unsaturated fats are chemically changed so that they become more solid. These fats will increase your cholesterol level and can be found in hydrogenated margarine and shortenings.
The Four Food Groups
- Dairy Products
- Dairy products are labeled with percentage butter fat (%B.F.) or milk fat (%M.F.). By eating low fat cheese (less than 20% M.F.) or part-skim cheese, low fat yogurt, and skim or 1% milk, you will reduce the saturated fat in your diet.
- Meat, Poultry and Fish
- Fish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat and poultry. When buying meat, it is always wise to choose lean cuts and trim all fat from meat before cooking. It also helps to remove the skin from chicken and turkey, since most of the fat is found just under the skin. Egg yolks, organ meats (such as liver and kidney) and shellfish are high in cholesterol.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Fruits and vegetables will not raise your cholesterol. They are rich in many important vitamins and minerals.
- Breads and Cereals
- A high fibre diet can help to lower your cholesterol. It is important, however, to limit croissants, biscuits, and other commercially prepared baked goods, since such products are often high in cholesterol and fat.
Tips to Lower Your Fat Intake:
- When selecting foods at the grocery store, choose foods that contain low total and saturated fat.
- Avoid gravies from fat drippings.
- Skim fat from soups or stews by placing in the refrigerator, chilling, and skimming off the fat which will rise to the top.
- No more than 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat (60-105g of fat).
- Saturated fat should account for no more than 7% of your total daily calories.
- “Cholesterol free” claims made on food labels don’t mean that a product is low in fat.
- “Light or lite” claims may refer to texture or taste and not calories or fat.
Example of a food label:
Nutrition Information Per 50G Serving
Percentage of Recommended Daily Intake
Per 50G Serving – This is the amount of food the label information is based on.
Fat – Includes saturated and unsaturated fats.
Carbohydate – This is the total amount of sugar, starch, and fibre per serving.
Sodium – This is the amount of salt per serving.
Percentage of Recommended
Daily Intake – All vitamins and minerals are listed under this heading.
Preparing Your Food
You should try to use low fat methods of cooking such as baking, broiling, roasting, or microwaving and avoid frying.
Ask your pharmacist for more information on how
to lower fat and cholesterol in your diet and reduce the risk of heart disease.