What is a low cholesterol diet?

ThinkstockPhotos-474640052 (1)smallClinical Dietitian Chris Fonda from St John of God Murdoch Hospital says the latest evidence[1] suggests that cholesterol in foods has minimal to no effect on blood cholesterol levels in healthy people.

“The focus should be on replacing saturated and trans fats that raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol with unsaturated fats,” Mr Fonda says.

This is good news for people who enjoy eggs. Eggs do contain cholesterol and so may weakly affect blood cholesterol levels however; eggs are a nutrient powerhouse containing protein, vitamins B12, A and D, riboflavin, iron and folate! Enjoy up to six eggs per week as part of a healthy, well balanced diet combined with regular exercise.

Mr Fonda also recommends:

  • eating two pieces of fruit per day
  • eating at least one cup salad vegetables at lunch
  • eating at least two cups cooked vegetables at dinner
  • replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats –
  • swap butter as a spread to either avocado or olive oil
  • including two serves of oily fish (i.e. salmon) each week
  • including a daily 30g serve of nuts (i.e. almonds or walnuts)
  • including some avocado in your salads
  • reducing intake of processed carbohydrates:
  • swap white breads to whole grain varieties (the heavier and darker the bread the better)
  • swap sugary cereals (i.e. Coco Pops®, Nutri-Grain®) with whole-grain cereals (i.e. Sanitarium Weet-Bix™, Uncle Toby’s® Traditional Oats)
  • limit consumption of cakes, biscuits, pastries, lollies, soft drinks and other “discretionary” foods
  • limit consumption of cakes, biscuits, pastries, lollies, soft drinks and other “discretionary” foods such as alcohol
  • Keeping active and get regular exercise

More on beta-glucan

Beta-glucans are a group of structurally similar plant compounds to cholesterol that are mostly soluble. Compared to other types of soluble fibre, beta-glucans can help achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Whole grains (such as oats), mushrooms and yeast products are among the richest sources of beta-glucans.

  • Research[2] has shown that consuming 3g of oat beta-glucan per day can reduce cholesterol as part of a diet low in saturated fats.
  • Beta-glucan reduces LDL cholesterol by binding to cholesterol and bile acids lower down in our digestive tract. They are then passed out through our faeces.
  • To get more beta-glucan in your diet, eat more mushrooms and barley and two to four portions of oat based breakfast cereals, breads and crackers every day.

For more tailored dietary and lifestyle advice to actively reduce your cholesterol, speak with your GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). To find an APD, visit www.daa.asn.au

[1] Rong Y, Chen L, Zhu T, Song Y, Yu M, Shan Z, et al. (2013). Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Jan 7

National Heart Foundation. Position statement: Dietary fats and dietary sterols for cardiovascular health; 2009 [cited 2013 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Dietary-fats-position-statement-LR.pdf

Njike V, Faridi Z, Dutta S, Gonzalez-Simon AL, Katz DL. Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults–effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. Nutr J. 2010 Jul 2 [cited 2013 Feb 5];9:28. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20598142

[2] Whitehead, A., Beck, E.J., Tosh, S., & Wolever, T. (2014). Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr, 100, 1413-21

 

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