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High Cholesterol and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Cholesterol too high?

That may be what you’re hearing from your health professional.  Are Omega 3 ‘s the answer?  It’s a complex problem, because even if you are eating carefully, you still may struggle with the cholesterol numbers.  And what’s more, your body makes about 80% of its cholesterol.  That means that you are controlling only around 20% with your eating habits and lifestyle.

You must limit your dietary cholesterol which comes from animal foods:  meat, fish, eggs and dairy.  Recommendations for daily intake of dietary cholesterol are 300 mg.  What is more important are the types of fats you eat.  Realize that fat is important to your health.  You must eat the right kinds of fats.

Monounsaturated Fats are the healthiest fats. They decrease your total blood cholesterol but maintain your HDL (good) cholesterol. Most of the fat in your diet should come from this group.  Natural sources include: almonds, avocadoes, cashews, canola oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, natural peanut butter, olive oil, olives, pecans, peanuts, peanut oil, pistachios, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and tahini paste.  Wow.  It’s just seeds and nuts.  Eat lots.

Polyunsaturated Fats are OK fats. They reduce both the LDL (bad) cholesterol and the HDL (good) cholesterol. Lowering your total cholesterol is great, but because these fats also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol, you should only enjoy them in moderation. Polyunsaturated fats are in corn oil, mayonnaise, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered polyunsaturated. But these are heart-healthy.  Omega 3 ’s can be found in high-fat fish (albacore tuna, mackerel and salmon), other seafood (herring, lake trout, oysters, sardines, shellfish and shrimp), and plant sources white walnuts, flaxseeds and oil, hempseeds and oil, soybean oil, and regular walnuts.

Now that you know which fats to include as part of your cholesterol-lowering plan, it’s time to learn about the types of fats that are bad for your health.

Avoid these unhealthy fats:

  • Saturated fat is unhealthy fat because it increases both your total cholesterol and your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Limit your saturated fat intake to  about 15-25 grams daily, depending on your calorie needs. Keep this number as low as possible.  You get saturated fat from:  bacon, bacon grease, beef, butter, cheese, cocoa butter, coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, cream, cream cheese, ice cream, lard, palm kernel oil, palm oil, pork, poultry, sour cream, and whole milk.
  • Trans fat is the worst fat you can eat because it increases your total cholesterol and your LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol. Yuk. Just say NO to this stuff, that’s right, 0 grams:  vegetable shortenings, hard stick margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, doughnuts, pastries, baking mixes and icings, store-bought baked goods.  The list is long and contains many popular items.  But, you must resist!

Although some fats (monounsaturated, Omega-3 ‘s) are healthier than others (saturated and trans fats), it’s important to remember that fats are still high in calories. Consuming too many—even the healthy ones like Omega 3’s—can result in weight gain. So limit your total fat intake to less than 30% of your total calories each day. This is about 45-65 grams each day (more or less depending on your calorie needs).




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