Perfect portions ... Frank Camorra's warm salad.
Lower your cholesterol with these tips and recipes chosen by dietitian Susie Burrell.
When you consider that one in three Australian adults have high cholesterol, and that this is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, it is surprising that more adults do not take their cholesterol a little more seriously.
While some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, the foods we choose on a daily basis can positively affect cholesterol levels and as such should always be a part of any successful cholesterol management plan.
What is it?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver and is a structural component of every one of the body's cells but too much cholesterol can also cause damage to the arteries leading to blockages and even a heart attack long term.
Cholesterol is made by the liver and as such is also found in animal foods including meat, dairy, eggs and seafood.
Cholesterol that we consume directly from food sources does not act to directly increase blood cholesterol. Rather it is the saturated fats found in many processed foods including biscuits, cakes, fried foods, fatty meats and full cream dairy foods that increases blood cholesterol levels.
Eat for health
The most important dietary change individuals with high cholesterol can make is to eliminate as much saturated fat from their diet as possible by choosing low-fat dairy foods and the leanest cuts of meat. White meats including fish, lean pork, and chicken and turkey breast are all protein rich foods that are relatively low in saturated fat, while omega 3 fish including salmon, trout and tuna should be included in the diet at least two to three times each week.
When it comes to added fats, while seed, nut and plant oils do contain some saturated fat the amount is relatively low compared to that of butter and palm oil and hence these oils are better choices for cooking and baking.
Olive oil is often considered the best choice thanks to its high monounsaturated fat content, and is a great choice for salad dressings and baking, but do not forget the benefits of using different oils with your cooking – sesame oil, canola oil and sunflower oil are all good options nutritionally.
Go nuts for nuts
Specifically there are also a number of key foods that can actually help to lower cholesterol levels.
Nuts, and walnuts in particular, have been shown to be extremely effective at helping to improve the types of fat found in the blood. Simply aim to include a serve of 30g of nuts in your diet daily – nuts can be easily added to salads, baking or enjoyed as a snack – just watch your portions as they are easy to over consume.
Foods high in soluble fibre also have a powerful cholesterol lowering effect. Apples, oats and muesli are some of the key foods that contain good amounts of soluble fibre and should also be consumed on a daily basis.
Finally, most simply and yet most importantly, the more brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegetables you include in your diet, the better.
Not only do antioxidant rich vegetables such as broccoli, beetroot, tomatoes and spinach help to protect the body cells from the damaging effects of cholesterol but a high intake of vegetables in particular is linked to weight control. And ultimately, controlling your weight is one of the most powerful things you can do to keep your cholesterol levels within recommended ranges.
- Eggs are commonly avoided due to their cholesterol content – but with just 1g of saturated fat per egg, even those with high cholesterol can enjoy an egg a day without adverse effects.
- All nuts including unsalted peanuts (which are actually a legume) are good choices thanks to the mix of good fats that they offer but walnuts are the standout nut when it comes to cholesterol with exceptionally high level of heart healthy omega 3 fats.
MORE: Weekly meal planners