Heart Health and Cholesterol

Last week I did some research on cholesterol and saturated fat which made me re-think how I understand the two. Everyone seems scared of the concept of cholesterol because they, to a larger extent, understand the impact of it, ie: high level of ‘bad’ cholesterol equals plaque in the arteries which could lead to a heart attack or heart disease.

The connection between saturated fat and its negative effect on the heart isn't as strong. Most people, I believe, firstly link saturated fat to being overweight or unhealthy. Up until about one week ago, I thought I was being ‘healthier’ by choosing oil with no cholesterol. I then came to understand that most foods, besides the extreme such as prawns, actually have fairly minimal cholesterol content anyway.

Most of the cholesterol we create in our body comes from our saturated fat intake being processed by the body and made into cholesterol. So although it is better to consume foods with no cholesterol, the most important piece of information to look for is saturated fat content.

I believe this is a really important concept to understand (it's not common knowledge though!) and encourage adults and parents to educate others and in particular their children. If we can get these kinds of messages out to our kids earlier in life it will help them to make healthier food choices from an earlier age. Think about creating good habits for your family by avoiding regular consumption of foods high in saturated fat.

Some foods to avoid in high quantities:

  • Butter (Found in cakes and biscuits)
  • Cheese
  • Processed Meats (Sausages)
  • Animal fat (Found in junk food burgers, meatballs, gravy)
  • Ice cream and Cream

Choose instead:

  • All fruits and vegetables are free from saturated fat and can help to lower your cholesterol and protect your heart
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Legumes, Beans and Lentils contain no saturated fat or cholesterol
  • Fish- Salmon, Tuna, Trout, any type of white fish.
Fruit and Vegetables