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Our pages are created to provide medically accurate information that is intended to complement, not replace or substitute in any way the services of your physician. Any application of the recommendations set forth in the following pages is at the reader's discretion and sole risk. Before undergoing medical treatment, you should consult with your doctor, who can best assess your individual needs, symptoms and treatment. 


FACT 1 - You can't live without cholesterol. Cholesterol is fundamental for life and occurs naturally in your body. It is not an illness. Cholesterol forms a basic part of all our cells. We all need it to help digest food and to produce hormones and vitamin D. The fact is, cholesterol is absolutely essential to human health. 

* When it comes to diet, it is excess fat and not dietary cholesterol that has the greatest impact on your blood cholesterol levels.

FACT 2 - The cholesterol in your blood is called blood cholesterol. Most of it comes from your body, not foods. About 80% of the cholesterol in your blood is there because your body produced it in your liver. Only about 20% of your blood cholesterol is influenced by what you eat. 

FACT 3 - HDL "good" cholesterol in your blood is actually healthy for you. HDL cholesterol is made in your body, by your body. You can't eat it! In order to travel through your blood, cholesterol joins with protein to form a lipoprotein. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is so-called "good" cholesterol because it takes cholesterol back to the liver where it is removed from the body.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol is also made by your body. It is not good for you because it can result in fatty deposits which clog up your arteries so that your blood cannot flow properly. 

* If your doctor orders a cholesterol test, try to find out ratio of HDL "good" cholesterol to LDL "bad" cholesterol. The higher the ratio of HDL to LDL, the better.

FACT 4 - Your family history is the single most important risk factor influencing blood cholesterol levels. Many factors influence your blood cholesterol levels. A high blood cholesterol level is a heart health concern, but there are also other important heart disease factors. If you think you have two or more of the risk factors below, consult your doctor to see if a cholesterol test is needed. 

The health history of your parents and grandparents is the main factor in determining your blood cholesterol levels. A history of high blood cholesterol in your family means that you may be more at risk for heart disease. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, let your doctor know. 

Risk Factor: DISEASE
High blood cholesterol levels may also be caused by diseases such as diabetes as well as thyroid, kidney or liver disease.

Risk Factor: AGE & GENDER
The risk of heart disease increases as you grow older, with men more at risk than pre-menopausal women. However, heart disease and stroke are not just men's diseases - they are the number one cause of premature death in women.

Risk Factor: SMOKING
High blood cholesterol levels are a heart health concern, particularly if you smoke. Smoking tends to decrease your HDL "good" cholesterol levels and increases the rate at which fatty deposits form on artery walls. 

An active lifestyle helps your heart, lungs and blood vessels work better and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Regular physical activity helps increase your HDL "good" cholesterol levels. 

Having a healthy weight can help you control your blood cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure. Reducing excess body weight cuts the strain put on your heart and may increase your HDL "good" cholesterol levels. 

Risk Factor: HIGH FAT DIET
High blood cholesterol levels can be caused by diets which are high in fat, particularly saturated fat. An eating pattern that is lower in fat and higher in fibre can help you control your cholesterol levels and reduce your heart disease risks.

FACT 5 - The cholesterol in foods is called dietary cholesterol.
It has little effect on most people's blood cholesterol. Cholesterol in foods has little effect on blood cholesterol levels for most people. If you eat more cholesterol than you need, your body maintains a balance by producing less. When it comes to diet, research indicates that it is the excess fat and not dietary cholesterol that has the greatest impact on your blood cholesterol levels. 

FACT 6 - A high fat diet increases your blood cholesterol levels.
Research indicates that total fat intake and in particular saturated fat can contribute to higher blood cholesterol levels. In order to reduce your blood cholesterol levels, you need to reduce the total amount of fat that you eat, especially saturated fat.
Health Canada recommends that we limit our total fat intake to no more than 30% of our daily calories (except for children under the age of 2). A healthy daily fat intake for women is about 65 grams or less and about 90 grams or less for men. 

* Different types of fat affect your blood cholesterol levels in different ways. That's why it's important to watch both the amount and type of fat you eat.

FACT 7 - Trans-fatty acids increase your blood cholesterol levels. 
Trans-fatty acids are the fats that form when vegetable oils are hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is the process that keeps liquid oil solid at room temperature. It is hard to tell if you are eating these fats, since they are not currently listed on food labels.
Hydrogenated fats are found in some margarines, shortening, French fries, doughnuts, pastries, cookies, crackers, chips and other processed foods. Trans-fatty acids act like saturated fats and can increase LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. And they can also decrease HDL "good" cholesterol levels. The best way to avoid trans-fatty acids is to limit foods containing hydrogenated oils. 

* Trans-fatty acids act like saturated fats because they can increase blood cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. The best way to avoid them is to limit foods containing hydrogenated oils.


Trans-fatty acids are not currently listed on food labels, even though they act like saturated fat.

* To find out if food contain trans-fatty acids, look at the total fat content, add up polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturates. Subtract this number from the total fat, the difference is approximately the amount of trans-fatty acids in one serving. 

FACT 8 - Cholesterol-free foods can be high in fat.
Foods that boast a "cholesterol-free" label can in fact be high in fat. A handful of cholesterol-free potato chips (28 g) contains about 10 grams of fat while three chocolate chip cookies gives you about 8 grams of fat. To find out what you are really getting in food, check the nutrition information panel on the label. Remember, for most people it's more important to lower total fat intake than it is to avoid cholesterol. 

FACT 9 - Most people can best keep their blood cholesterol in a healthy range with a lower-fat, higher-fibre diet and by having an active lifestyle.
The single most important change you can make to control your blood cholesterol levels is to reduce your intake of total fat. And in today's world finding lower-fat foods has never been simpler.
Follow these tips and you can easily eat less fat, especially saturated fat and trans-fatty acids.