In Australia, 51% of adults have high blood cholesterol – that’s 6.4 million adults! It is a disease which has been rapidly spreading across the globe fuelled by a diet of refined and fatty foods among other things.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is carried in the blood and while your body need cholesterol (for example to product hormones), too much of it is linked to coronary heart disease and possibly some types of stroke. High cholesterol levels are a major contributor to clogging the blood vessels which supply the heart and other parts of your body.
Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs and flushes it out via your liver but a diet high in saturated fats leads to an excess of cholesterol in your blood stream. Now if your cholesterol level is 6.5mmol/L or higher your risk of heart disease is about 4x higher compared to a person with a cholesterol level of 4mmol/L! If you have high cholesterol, you are not alone.
So what can you do to reduce and maintain a healthy cholesterol level? A combination of lifestyle and diet changes can have a massive impact on your cholesterol levels and it is recommended that you:
- quit smoking
- maintain a healthy body weight
- eat a balanced diet made of wholegrain, fresh fruit and veggies, oily fish, low fat dairy and lean meats
- cook with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils
- include plant sterol enriched foods in your diet
- drink in moderation
- exercise at least 30 minutes every day
There are also certain foods which are known for its cholesterol lowering properties:
- Beans and lentils: not really fancy food but high in fibre, in particular soluble fibre
- Dark chocolate: yummy and good for you thanks to its flavonoid
- Edamame: green soy beans and full of fibre and isoflavones
- Extra virgin olive oil: liquid gold containing monounsaturated fatty acids
- Garlic: wards off vampires and cholesterol because it contains allicin
- Oats: warm and comforting porridge in winter, oats are packed with soluble fibre
- Pinot Noir wine: the full bodied red fights cholesterol with resveratol and other flavonoids
- Psyllium seed husks: are part of the Plantago ovata plant seed native of India and are rich in soluble fibre
- Salmon: bursts with flavour and omega-3 fatty acids, DHA in particular
- Walnuts: yummy snack full of ALA omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids
- Goodness Superfoods cereals: tasty start to your day and full of fibre, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat
Fibre plays an important part when tackling your cholesterol levels and also “good” fats so look out for products containing these when you go shopping next. Also, check out the results from last year’s Goodness Superfoods Challenge and find out how the right breakfast can positively impact on your cholesterol levels.