The inclusion of fat in the diet is important for several reasons, including the maintenance and formation of normal cell integrity, neurological structure and function, chemical messaging, brain health and the prevention of chronic heart conditions such as Chronic Heart Disease (CHD), Chronic Artery Disease (CAD) and Chronic Artery Occlusion (CAO).
A key factor in preventing the onset of chronic cardiovascular conditions is the inclusion of healthy fats, and the relative reduction of bad fats! Bad fats include saturated fat and trans fat, and it’s these bad boys that contribute to the elevation of cholesterol (remember, dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect total cholesterol), and in particular, the LDL (bad) cholesterol!
To help reduce total cholesterol you need to minimise saturated fat and trans fats, whilst increase your relative intake of good fats i.e. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. To help you, here’s a list of what food sources contain what (not an exhaustive list):
Find them in
• olive oil and rapeseed oil
• nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts and pistachios).
NOTE : Some spreads are made from monounsaturated fats.
• corn oil, sunflower oil and soya oil
• nuts and seeds (walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds).
NOTE : Some spreads are made from polyunsaturated fats.
Generally found in:
• fish oil
• oily fish such as herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, salmon, trout and fresh tuna.
• hard cheese
• whole milk
• fatty meat
• meat products
• coconut oil
• palm oil
• fried foods
• hard margarines.
Foods that have ‘hydrogenated oils or fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils or fats’ in the list of ingredients are likely to contain trans fats.
British Heart Foundation, (2013). Reducing your blood cholesterol. Retrieved 18th July, 2013, from http://www.bhf.org.uk/#&panel1-1