Despite the not-so-great reputation that cholesterol has had, we actually need cholesterol as our bodies use it to make hormones but if our cholesterol levels get too high, it can raise our risk of heart disease. Our bodies make most of the cholesterol that we need, and the rest comes from food. We now know that dietary cholesterol, which is found in meat, eggs, and dairy, has less of an impact on our cholesterol levels than we once thought! The saturated fat and trans fat in the foods we eat can actually raise our cholesterol levels much more than dietary cholesterol does. Making food choices that are low in saturated and trans fat can help prevent this.
So, what are some ways that we can make these healthy food choices?
Well, we can read food labels to make sure that there is no trans fat in our food.
We can also choose foods that are lower in saturated fats. For dairy products, skim or 1% milk, low fat yogurt, and cheese with less than 20% milk fat are all great choices. Choosing lean cuts of meat such as beef or pork tenderloin, lean ground beef or poultry also lowers the amount of saturated fat in our diet. Swap out your animal proteins with vegetarian proteins sometimes; chickpeas, lentils, and tofu are all good choices! Eating more fruit and vegetables and whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain pasta, quinoa and brown rice increases the soluble fibre in your diet too, which helps with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
Where can we find more information?
You can go to the Health Unit’s website at healthunit(dot)org, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, or call the Health Action Line: 1-800-660-5853.