What is Cholesterol?

The body produces and uses cholesterol to help build cells and make hormones.

Cholesterol comes from two sources:
  1. your body
  2. the food you eat
The amount of cholesterol our bodies make is determined by genetics and the amount of saturated fats in our diets.

However, too much cholesterol is dangerous. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can build up in your arteries, forming what is known as plaque.

The accumulation of plaque narrows the passageways for blood to travel to the heart and brain, increasing the chances of heart attack or stroke. Smoking and high levels of stress can also increase your cholesterol levels.

What can I do to improve my cholesterol levels?

Limit your intake of foods high in cholesterol like fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb, poultry with skin, liver, giblets, eggs, whole milk dairy products (whole milk, cream, full fat cheese, butter, ice cream), palm and coconut oil.

Avoid all trans fats which are found primarily in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (found mostly in commercially baked and fried foods like fast foods, chips, crackers, cookies, donuts and honey-buns).

Use trans fat-free margarine such as Smart Balance, Benecol, and Take Control.

The best oils to use are olive and canola oil.

The best meats to eat are fish, turkey and lean chicken.

Foods from plants do not have cholesterol and are great choices to lower cholesterol levels - so eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts (especially almonds, walnuts and pistachios), soluble fiber like beans, oatmeal, oat bran, and barley.

Total Cholesterol

Excellent: Under 180
Good: 180-200
Fair: 201-239
Poor / At Risk: 240 and over

5 Proactive Health Tips to Improve Your Cholesterol

Cut down on saturated fats in cooking
Instead of frying you can bake or broil

Watch the snacks
Choose low fat options and fresh food
instead of pre-packaged

Reduce your meat intake
And add fish to your meals

Increase whole grains and fiber
Add fruits, vegetables and beans

Read labels carefully
Avoid foods that list meat fat, palm oil,
cream, butter, lard and