Taking less cholesterol

 

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance which is produced naturally by the liver and found in the blood. It is also found in animal products such as meat, dairy products, shellfish and egg yolks, but not in plant products.

Some amount of cholesterol is necessary for healthy living – for instance, cholesterol is needed to form certain tissues and nerves in the body. In addition, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is actually “good” for our health as it picks up fatty deposits in the blood and carries them back to the liver to be discarded.

Too much cholesterol, however, especially in the form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, causes the build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of blood vessels. This may in turn lead to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

Read more: High Blood Cholesterol as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease

Our blood cholesterol levels are influenced by our body weight, as well as the amount and type of fat (especially saturated fat), dietary fibre, and cholesterol which we eat. The last of these factors is especially important as the human body is able to make all the cholesterol which it needs. We do not therefore need to consume any additional cholesterol in our diet.

On average, we should take in at most 300 mg of cholesterol daily. Ways in which you can cut down on your cholesterol intake include:

  • eating cholesterol-rich foods such as shellfish and animal organs (for instance, liver, kidney, tripe) at most twice a week and in small amounts each time;
  • replacing meat with beancurd, nuts, or other plant products periodically;
  • limiting intake of eggs to 3 to 5 eggs a week (for normal healthy adults and adolescents);
  • persons with high cholesterol levels should eat no more than 2 to 3 eggs a week, while young children can have up to 5 to 6 eggs a week.
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