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Cholesterol

CholesterolCholesterol is essential for life. It is produced naturally in our bodies and forms a basic part of all our cells. Cholesterol helps regulate hormones, aids in the utilization of Vitamin D and helps in digestion.Eggs have been traditionally avoided in people at risk of heart disease due to its high cholesterol content. 80% of our bodies cholesterol is made in the liver, and it is unclear the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol levels. It is thought that saturated and trans fat have a larger impact in raising blood cholesterol levels. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and a source of 15 essential nutrients. Healthy adults can enjoy eggs daily without an increased risk of heart disease.

What are HDL and LDL?

Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is considered bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol transports cholesterol in the blood and high amounts can cause fatty deposits or plaques to develop in the arteries resulting in reduced blood flow, blockage and increase risk of heart disease. High-density lipoprotein or HDL is our good cholesterol. HDL takes cholesterol from our blood and brings in to the liver where it can be eliminated. The ratio of HDL:LDL cholesterol is important in determining your risk of heart disease. The higher your HDL:LDL ratio is, the healthier you are as your good cholesterol outweighs the bad.

What Foods Raise LDL Blood Cholesterol?

Cholesterol

Saturated and trans fat have been shown to increase your bad or LDL blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is found in meat, shrimp, egg yolks, full-fat milk products, lard, coconut, palm oil, fast foods, and snack foods.

Trans fat is found in foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil including fast foods and snack foods and are naturally found in animal products and some dairy products. Trans fat not only raise LDL cholesterol, they have been shown to lower HDL cholesterol; thereby, having a huge impact on your HDL:LDL cholesterol ratio.

Health Canada recommends we limit our total fat intake to less than 30% of our daily caloric consumption and saturated fat to less than 10% and trans fat to less than 1% of total energy.

What Foods Lower LDL Blood Cholesterol?

Cholesterol

There are a number of foods that have been shown to lower your bad or LDL cholesterol levels. High fibre diets are not only important to maintain a healthy digestive system; soluble fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels as well. Soluble fibre, found in oats, beans, vegetables and fruits such as apples, prunes and potatoes, form a gel-like substance in the stomach and small intestine helping to slow food absorption. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 fats have also been shown to have blood cholesterol benefits. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats from fish and algae sources have been shown to lower blood triglyceride levels and improve cholesterol ratios. Other polyunsaturated fats from flaxseed, canola and soybean oils have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Plant sterols, found in plant oils, nuts and seeds, have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol as well. Plant sterols or phytosterols are structurally similar to animal cholesterol and interfere with their absorption thereby increasing cholesterol elimination from our body.

Eating Right for Your Heart

You can lower your LDL cholesterol by eating healthy foods low in fat, rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Ref: Alberta Egg Producers website, 2008; Heart and Stroke Foundation website, 2008; DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute website, dhaomega3.org, 2008.