Fat plays an important role in our body as it is both a source of energy and a way to store energy. It’s also a part of every cell in our body. We all know that fat comes from our diet but what you might not know is that the types of fats we eat are important, especially when it comes to cholesterol levels.
Fat & Cholesterol
Fats and cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, similar to oil and water, which is why the body uses special proteins to transport them. Two of the most important transport proteins are Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). LDL carries cholesterol around the body looking for a place to store it. But, when there is too much LDL-cholesterol in the blood, the cholesterol can get deposited on the walls of arteries which can cause them to narrow. This is why LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol. The other type, HDL, searches for cholesterol in the bloodstream and transports it back to the liver to be broken down, which is why HDL is also referred to as good cholesterol.
Elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for heart health; therefore it’s important to keep your cholesterol levels as low as possible. One way you can influence this is by making small changes in your diet to maintain cholesterol levels because the type of fat you eat impacts the amount of HDL, LDL and total cholesterol in the blood. As heart health has multiple risk factors, you may need to improve more than one to reduce your overall risk.
The good and the bad about fat:
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are known as good fats because they can lower bad LDL cholesterol.
Saturated and Trans fats are known as bad fats because they can raise bad LDL cholesterol if consumed in excess.
Because of the influence of fats on cholesterol, you should aim to swap as much saturated fat in your diet for polyunsaturated fat.
For more information about fats, visit the Heart Foundation of Australia at https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and-cholesterol/saturated-and-trans-fat
What can I do to eat the right fats?
According to Australian Dietary Guidelines, around 25-30% of our daily calories should come from total fat and no more than 10% should be from saturated fat.
The recently revised Australian Dietary Guidelines developed by the Medical Health & Research Council recommends a daily allowance of 2-4 serves of healthy fats and oils daily as part of a healthy diet.It’s best to limit the major sources of saturated fat, such as: butter, full-fat dairy products and red fatty meats. To help limit saturated fat try to swap butter for soft vegetable based spreads such as Flora or Flora ProActiv, full fat for low fat dairy and red meat for chicken. Your cooking process can help you cut the saturated fats too, try steaming or grilling your food. The important thing is to find a balance and focus on replacing as much of the saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of polyunsaturated fats are nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and vegetable based spreads such as Flora ProActiv.
What about cholesterol?
Swapping saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats could already benefit your cholesterol levels. But, if you need and want to actively lower your cholesterol levels consider including plant sterols in your diet. Plant sterols are clinically proven to actively lower cholesterol. In fact, Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols and just 25g (containing 2g plant sterols) per day, the portion you would spread on 2-3 slices of toast, can lower your cholesterol by up to 10% in 3 weeks as part of a healthy diet low in saturated fat.
- About 25-30% of your daily calories should come from fats but no more than 10% should come from saturated fat so look at nutrition labels to keep a tally.
- Try to choose foods which contain the healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in Flora ProActiv and limit the amount of the less healthy saturated fats that you eat.
- Don’t forget about plant sterols! Adding them to your diet by eating Flora ProActiv can help you actively lower your cholesterol.
Heart Foundation Australia: www.heartfoundation.org.au
Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013:
For more information on fats and cholesterol, visit the Heart Foundation of Australia: