Healthy eating significantly reduces cholesterol

What is Blood Cholesterol?

  • A waxy, fat-like substance in the blood
  • Made by the liver and also comes from food
  • Important for building and maintenance of body cell membranes, making of Vitamin D, hormones and bile acids

What Should My Blood Cholesterol Profile Be?

Total Cholesterol

< 5.2 mmol/L (200 mg/dL)

HDL-cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol)

> 1.0 mmol/L (40 mg/dL)

LDL-cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol)

< 2.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dL)

Triglycerides (fat in the blood)

< 1.7 mmol/L (150 mg/dL)


Why High Cholesterol Matters?

  • High cholesterol narrows the blood vessels, which increase the risk of heart attack or stroke

How To Lower Your Cholesterol Level?

1. Lose weight if you are overweight

  • Aim for a healthy weight range of Body Mass Index (BMI) from 18.5 to 23kg/m2
  • Tips:
    • Reduce extra calories from fats and sugar
    • Watch your food portion
    • Lead an active lifestyle

2. Eat healthily to keep high cholesterol at bay

  • Limit total fat intake and replace unhealthy types of fat (saturated and trans fat) in your diet with healthier fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat). The table below shows the food sources of the different types of fat found in our diet and their effects on blood cholesterol level

Types of fat: Saturated Fat (SF)
Effects on blood cholesterol: ↑ LDL-cholesterol
Food sources:
Animal: butter, lard, ghee, fat/ skin on meat, full cream dairy products
Plant: palm kernel oil, non-dairy creamer, coconut oil, coconut milk, cocoa butter

Types of fat: Trans Fat
Effects on blood cholesterol: ↑ LDL-cholesterol ↓HDL-cholesterol
Food sources:
Fried food (e.g. French fries, potato chips and donuts) Baked goods (e.g. pastries, biscuits, cookies), shortenings, partially hydrogenated vegetables oil


Types of fat: Unsaturated Fat - Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA)
Effects on blood cholesterol: ↓LDL-cholesterol
Food sources: 
Avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, peanut oil


Types of fat: Unsaturated Fat - Polyunsaturated Fat (PUF A)
Effects on blood cholesterol: ↓LDL-cholesterol
Food sources:
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil

  • Limit food high in cholesterol
    • Cholesterol is only found in animal products
    • Food sources: organ meat, egg yolk, animal fat, fish roe, squid, prawns, crabs
    • The recommended dietary cholesterol intake is 300mg/day. For those with high blood cholesterol level, limit dietary cholesterol to 200mg/day
    • The table below shows the cholesterol content of some common foods:

Food Item

Cholesterol
Content (mg per
serving)

Chicken Liver, boiled (½ cup, 80g)

315

Oyster, raw (6 whole, 300g)

243

Egg Yolk, boiled (1 whole)

240

Sotong, sambal (1 serving, 120g)

204

Crab, steamed (1 whole, 262g)

188

Pig, Stomach, braised (1 serving, 100g)

150

Prawn, steamed (5 whole, 80g)

150

Chicken, breast, baked (1 serving, 90g)

82

Fish, Snapper, steamed (1 serving, 120g)

72

  • Eat more high fibre food
    • It helps to ↓ Total Cholesterol & ↓ LDL-cholesterol as it removes cholesterol by excreting through faeces
    • Sources: fruits, legumes, vegetables and wholegrains such as oats, oat bran, barley, brown rice, wholemeal bread
  • Limit alcohol
    • May ↑ blood pressure and ↑ body weight

3. Do not smoke

Smoking harms your blood vessels and lowers your HDL-cholesterol

4. Active lifestyle

  • Helps to ↑ HDL-cholesterol
  • Encourage 150minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity e.g. brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, dancing or as advised by your doctor

5. Take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor

Healthy Eating Dietary Tips

  • Use less oil and fats
    Choose unsaturated cooking oil
    Limit deep-fried food to twice a week
    Ask for less gravy
  • Remove skin and fats
    Eat no more than 2 to 3 egg yolks a week
    Limit organ meat, shellfish
    Choose lean meat and low-fat dairy products
    Eat oily fish, e.g. sardines, mackerel, tuna, at least twice a week
  • Eat fresh fruits
    Eat 2 serves of fruits and 2 serves of vegetables daily
    *1 serve fruit = 1 small apple/ pear = 1 wedge papaya/watermelon = 10 grapes = ¼ cup dried fruit
    *1 serve vegetables = 150g raw leafy vegetables = 100g raw non-leafy vegetables (¾ mug)
  • Choose wholegrain food products (e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread, chappati, oats)

Choose healthier cooking methods

  • Grill, boil, microwave, stir-fry, steam, bake, roast, stew
  • Use low-fat yoghurt/ evaporated milk/ soymilk to replace coconut milk in cooking
  • Use a non-stick pan when cooking

When eating out

  • Choose plain rice instead of flavoured rice
  • Choose noodle soup instead of dried/ fried noodles
  • Remove skin or visible fat from meats
  • Ask for no/ less gravy
  • Leave behind the gravy/ soup
  • Ask for more vegetables

When shopping for food, read the food labels

  • Compare and choose products which have lower fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content
  • Choose products labeled “fat-free”, “low fat”, “reduced fat” and with Healthier Choice Symbol
  • Limit food products with vegetable fat, lard, shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oils listed amongst the first three ingredients, as they are high in saturated fat or trans fat

In Short,

  • Limit cholesterol-rich food, e.g. organ meat, egg yolks, seafood
  • Limit food high in saturated fat by removing fat and skin from meats, less deep-fried food, less coconut containing foods
  • Eat more high fibre food, e.g. fruit, legumes, vegetables and wholegrain

 Read more here.

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