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09 Jul 2010

Diet for high cholesterol

I have been diagnosed with (very) high cholesterol. I am trying to change my diet, but am having problems in determining what I should and should not eat. I have the following questions:

1. I love eating crisps and cakes - both things that I should avoid. I was wondering if there is anyway that I can still enjoy cakes by maybe substituting the high fat ingredients with something more healthy.

a) Which are the " bad"  ingredients and do you know of substitutes?
b) If I substitute all the " bad"  ingredients with " healthier"  ingredients, am I still only allowed to eat such cakes on occasion or how often can I indulge?

2. I am getting rather confused when reading the food labels on food - I''m not sure what is good to eat and what is not. I''m not sure what I need to be looking at:

a) Total fat or saturated fat? Some times an item is high in total fat but low in saturated fat - Does that mean that I can eat it to my " heart''s content" ? Eg. A packet of McCains frozen chips have Total Fat = 6.2g and Saturated fat of 0.8g per 100g, but the pack is 750g. Is this a healthy choice and why or why not?
b) Total- and saturated fat per serving size or 100g? E.g. a packet of Nut and Raisan Muesli (Jungle Energy Crunch) is say for instance 8g of Total fat per 100g. But the packet is 450g. For breakfast I eat a small bowl of muesli - Is it a healthy choice and why or why not?

3. I know I''m supposed to be eating more unsaturated fats (plant fats). I have started to snack on nuts, I eat avocado on a weekly basis and use olive oil.

a) Do I need to watch the amount of these unsaturated fats that I consume or the more the better? I.e. Can too much be bad?
b) How much saturated and unsaturated fats should I limit myself to on a daily basis?

4. How much exercise do you recommend on a weekly basis?

Thanks so much for your help
Answer 541 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear NWH
Goodness, with so many questions I think you need to have a session with a clinical dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area). However, I shall try to answer this flood of questions for you. You will have to avoid all crisps and cakes because you need to lower both your total and saturated fat intakes to improve your cholesterol. The only type of cake I can think of that does not contain lots of butter/margarine/oil is a meringue served with fresh fruit and No cream! Regarding high blood cholesterol levels, the "bad ingredients" in all foods, not just in cakes or crisps, are total fat, saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol. The best way to control your blood cholesterol levels is to avoid all foods that contain more than 3 g of total fat per 100g. So this cuts out all those foods that have a high total fat content but are low in saturated fat like those chips you mention. You will also have to make your own muesli from oats, dried fruit and a few nuts, because the muesli you mention contains 8 g of fat per 100g. Stick to looking at the values per 100g and keep in mind that all foods which contain more fat than 3 g per 100g are potentially harmful. You are after all not going to eat the whole 450 g of muesli at once. The ONLY exceptions to the 3g/100g rule, are nuts, avocado and healthy oils (olive, canola and avocado oils), but even with these foods you should limit your intake to 30g nuts per day, 1/4 avocado and 1-2 Tablespoons of the oil per day otherwise you will start gaining weight. Too much of anything can have negative effects. Moderation is the key. Experts agree that we should all have at least 30 min of exercise a day preferably 7 days a week.
Because it is evident that you are battling with the concept of using a low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-saturated fat diet, I would urge you to consult a dietitian as soon as possible. Also click on 'Diet' and 'You are what you eat' and read the 'Healthy Heart' section to obtain additional info that may help.
Best regards
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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