Most of us know that having a high blood cholesterol, particularly LDL-cholesterol can be bad for our hearts. Eating a diet that’s high in fat, especially saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels. So, it makes sense to limit your saturated fats if you want to keep your heart healthy.
"Eating a diet which is low in saturated and trans fatty acids but high in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, as well as taking plenty of exercise, can have favourable effects on cholesterol levels," according to registered nutritionist and member of the Nutrition Society, Charlotte Stirling-Reed.
Two out of three adults in the UK have cholesterol levels that are too high.
For most of us high blood cholesterol doesn't happen overnight. It develops over time, and it's a risk factor for developing heart disease.
The obvious culprits
Most of us eat too much saturated fat - about 20% more than the recommended maximum amount. Men should have less than 30g of saturated fat a day and for women it’s 20g.
If you think about saturated fats, the usual suspects like butter, lard, cream, fast foods, pies, pastries and fatty meats all spring to mind, but there are some surprising foods that may raise your cholesterol.
Eggs are not the enemy
If you think eggs belong on the 'avoid list', think again.
"At the moment there’s no recommended limit for eggs - they are a good choice for a heart healthy diet," according to spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association Helen Bond.
In the past, people had been advised to limit the number of eggs they should eat. This was because it was thought the cholesterol in our bodies was directly caused by cholesterol in our food.
Studies now show that cholesterol in foods has little effect on blood cholesterol levels – but that a high fat, high saturated fat diet does raise blood cholesterol levels.
Here are some sneaky choices that may raise your cholesterol:
The nut choice
Nuts are a healthy snack but their saturated fat content varies widely. Brazil nuts contain 4g of saturated fat per 25g serving, whereas the same weight of almonds would provide only 1g of saturated fat. But nuts are a healthy snack choice – even the saturated fat content of Brazil nuts still falls within the ‘medium’ saturated fat content based on the UK food labelling guidelines. And nuts have been proven to help reduce heart disease risk.
The not-so-heart-healthy breakfast
You may be feeling pretty pleased with yourself having a yoghurt for breakfast. However, if the option you choose is a 150g full-fat Greek yoghurt pot, that’s around 5g of saturated fat. For a woman that’s a quarter of your recommended daily limit.