1. What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in every cell in your body. It is used to make
steroid hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, as well as bile acids. Most of the
cholesterol in your body is produced by the liver and circulates in the blood. Some
cholesterol in the blood is necessary, but a high level of cholesterol in the blood can
increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Some animal based foods like meats, egg yolks
and dairy products also contain cholesterol. This dietary cholesterol from foods has only a
small impact on blood cholesterol levels. You can lower your blood cholesterol by eating
well, being physically active and achieving a healthy weight.
Dietary cholesterol: Cholesterol found in food sources. Only foods of animal origin contain
cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is not essential because the body can make all the
cholesterol it needs.
How to Achieve Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels
When blood cholesterol levels are high, cholesterol is more likely to deposit in artery walls
and harden, forming plaque. Over time, a buildup of plaque can lead to blockages in blood
flow that may result in a heart attack or stroke. That‟s why it‟s so important to take control
of your blood cholesterol levels now.
LDL cholesterol is commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol
that contributes to a build up of plaque in your arteries. If you have high LDL cholesterol,
lowering it can help you reduce your risk of heart disease.
HDL cholesterol is commonly known as “good” cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol
that can help clear excess cholesterol from your body. That‟s why higher HDL cholesterol is
Other Factors that increase the risk of CV in addition to High
Cholesterol include family history and age, being a smoker, lack of exercise,
unhealthy eating, being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes and stress.
In addition, certain populations, including Aboriginals and certain ethnic groups,
such as South Asians, are at an increased risk for CV diseases.
How you can take control of your blood cholesterol levels
It‟s important to talk to your doctor about your blood cholesterol levels and take action if
your LDL cholesterol level is high. A healthy lifestyle can help you achieve healthy blood
cholesterol levels. Remember that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol in
most people (other factors play a role). What matters most is your weight, physical activity
level and eating habits. Take control of your blood cholesterol levels with these three steps: Manage your weight - Excess weight, especially around your waist, is linked to
higher LDL cholesterol levels. If you are overweight, even a little weight loss may
help improve your blood cholesterol levels.
Get moving more – Regular physical activity is linked to higher HDL cholesterol
levels and healthier weights, which are both good for your heart. Every bit of activity
can help and the more active you are the better. Aim to be physically active for at
least half an hour each day.
Make healthy food choices – A healthy eating pattern that‟s low in saturated and
trans fat and rich in fibre is linked to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
While saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can have a bad effect on your blood
cholesterol levels, unsaturated fat can help improve them. Unsaturated fat, which
is found mostly in plant foods, such as canola oil, olive oil and nuts, can be used
regularly in small amounts. Omega-3 fat, an unsaturated fat found in ground flax
seed and fish, is also a healthy fat and should be eaten more often.
Choose Foods Lower in Saturated Fat, Trans Fat and Cholesterol such as:
Lean cuts of meat
Skinless poultry and fish
Legumes (e.g. kidney beans, soya beans, chick peas, lentils)
Skim or 1% milk, yogurt with 1% milk fat or less, low-fat cheese
Unsaturated oils such as canola, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower or
Non-hydrogenated soft margarine made from unsaturated oils
Steps You Can Take
Limit the lean meat and poultry you eat to 2 to 3 servings per day (a serving is 75
grams or 2 ½ oz, about the size of a deck of cards).
Choose fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, Atlantic herring, sardines or trout at
least twice a week. They are good sources of omega-3 fat.
Replace some of the meat in your meals with legumes or soy protein meat
substitutes. They are low in saturated fat and legumes are high in fibre.
Replace a whole egg with 2 egg whites in