Cholesterol, what you need to know – Part 5
Fats and Oils
Many people in their attempts to eat a low fat diet are not eating enough essential oils. Every cell in your body requires essential oils (omega 3), especially your brain. These omega 3s are also anti-inflammatory – all disease processes are inflammatory so it is very important to consume anti-inflammatory foods. They are called essential fatty acids because the body cannot make them – you must include them in your diet!
Ways to include healthy fats in the diet
The main essential fat you need in the diet is omega 3 fatty acids - available in fresh fish (eg mackerel, salmon, herring), cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, raw unsalted nuts and seeds (walnuts, pecans, pepitas etc), tahini and avocado. Add extra virgin cold pressed olive oil to your salads and vegetables (it makes a lovely salad dressing – you can also add fresh lemon or tahini and basil).
For cooking use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil; don’t heat it up just coat the food with it before you place the food into pan. Be careful, olive oil has a low burning point and will flame easily at high temperatures. Coconut oil is also better for cooking at high temperatures (food will taste like coconut). Butter is excellent for cooking too (real unsalted block butter).
Plant sterols can lower cholesterol levels
They are found naturally in plant foods including nuts, seeds, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), fruit and vegetables. Some margarine has concentrated plant sterols added. Margarines enriched with plant sterols may help lower LDL cholesterol but do not treat the cause of the elevated cholesterol. They also often contain trans fats and other unnatural chemicals that can cause inflammation so are not a good long term solution. These sterol margarines only affect cholesterol absorption from the diet; they have no effect on the cholesterol your body makes. Remember it is not the cholesterol number that matters, it is the oxidised cholesterol – anything that increases inflammation will cause oxidation.
Eggs are very nutritious and should be part of a healthy balanced diet. They contain good quality protein and omega-3, plus 10 vitamins and minerals. Boiled or poached is best, always cook eggs at a low temperature. The dietary cholesterol in eggs has no effect on blood cholesterol.
Are you taking cholesterol lowering medication?
Most cholesterol lowering medications affect only the cholesterol you make and therefore have no effect on the cholesterol that you eat. It is important to note that high cholesterol is not caused by a deficiency in statin drugs! They do not address the cause of the inflammation which is the real concern in cardiovascular disease.
Did you know that some commonly prescribed cholesterol medications may cause depletion of co-enzyme Q10 in the body? Co-enzyme Q10 is essential to cardiovascular health, it is a very important antioxidant for the heart (remember you need antioxidants to stop your body from making oxidised HDL’s LDL’s (the dangerous cholesterol). The highest concentrations are found in the heart where its action is vital to healthy functioning heart muscle tissues. Taking a co-enzyme Q10 supplement can:
- Help maintain the body’s co-enzyme Q10 levels
- Promote cardiovascular health
- Maintain energy levels
- Reduce muscle pain & weakness (common side-effect of statins due to depletion of co-enzyme Q10).
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For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact Fiona or Rachel on (02) 47 222 111 or www.informedhealth.com.au
Eddey Stephen. Cardiovascular Disease: The best treatment options, 2011. Health Schools Australia, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.
Many references and studies are available at : http://www.dietdoctor.com/science