Help your heart

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Cholesterol builds up in arteries and can cause a stroke or heart attack

Cholesterol builds up in arteries and can cause a stroke or heart attack


If you have too much cholesterol in your blood it could form a clot, which can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Your total amount of cholesterol is made up of two types:

  • LDL ('bad'): puts cholesterol into your blood
  • HDL ('good'): takes cholesterol out of your blood.

It is best to have:

  • a low total cholesterol level
  • a low LDL level
  • a high HDL level.

One way to measure this is to look at the ratio of your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. The higher the ratio is, the greater your risk of a stroke or heart attack.


What your cholesterol levels should be

Type of cholesterol
What your cholesterol level should be
Total cholesterolLess than 5
(or less than 4 if you have other health problems)
LDL cholesterolLess than 3
(or less than 2 if you have other health problems)
HDL cholesterolMore than 1
(particularly if you have problems that affect your heart and blood vessels)
Total cholesterol / HDL ratioBelow 4 is best

How to lower your cholesterol levels

The best way to help control your cholesterol levels is to eat more “helpful” fats and fewer “unhelpful” ones.

Eating the right fats will help your body. Some raise your cholesterol levels, while others lower it and help keep your skin and brain healthy.


Hard fats, such as cheese, are high in saturated fats and should be eaten in moderation

Hard fats, such as cheese, are high in saturated fats and should be eaten in moderation


Saturated fats

Avoid eating too much saturated fat, as this will raise your cholesterol. It is usually found in cheese, red meats, butter, palm oil or ghee.


Oily fish, such as tuna, are a good source of helpful unsaturated fats

Oily fish, such as tuna, are a good source of helpful unsaturated fats


Unsaturated fats

In contrast, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats will help to lower your cholesterol level. They can be found in olive oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. However they will still make you to gain weight if you eat too much of them.


Strike a balance to lower your cholesterol

To get the best balance, try choosing chicken meals instead of red meats and having fish at least twice a week (one of which should be an oily fish).


When reading food labels, it is always best to Go for Green

When reading food labels, it is always best to Go for Green


How to cut out the fat

By reading the food label, you can see if a food is low, medium or high in fat or saturated fat:

  • Low - Less than 3g total fat or 1g saturated fat per 100g of food - These foods are a good choice
  • Medium - Between 3-20g total fat or 1-5g saturated fat per 100g of food - Eat small amounts occasionally
  • High - More than 20g total fat or 5g saturated fat per 100g of food - Avoid these completely

More about a heart friendly diet

Eating low-fat foods is just one part of a healthy diet to help your heart and blood pressure, there are a number of others that will help to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke:



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