You’re not eating healthy fats
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. Your body needs it to build healthy cells, but high levels can increase your risk of heart disease. According to the Australian Heart Foundation, guidelines for target cholesterol levels vary based on factors such as age and family history, so ask your doctor what levels are right for you. However, the latest science says that in general, the lower your bad cholesterol and the higher your good cholesterol, the better.
Dietitian Ginger Hultin recommends these sources of healthy fats:
- Monounsaturated: avocado, olive and canola oils, and macadamia nuts.
- Polyunsaturated: walnuts, safflower and soybean oil, flax and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring.
You choose the fattiest steak on the menu
If your taste buds lead you to the T-bone or rib-eye in a restaurant, you’re not alone. But it’s heart-smart to trade picks that are high in cholesterol for a cut of beef that’s better for your heart. To reduce the level of saturated fats you consume, choose meat that has minimal visible fat. Lean beef cuts include round, chuck, sirloin or loin. Lean pork cuts include the tenderloin or loin chop. Lean lamb cuts come from the leg, shoulder and loin. And for minced meat, look for ‘lean’ or ‘extra lean’.
Trim all visible fat before cooking, pour off the melted fat afterwards, and broil or grill rather than panfrying. And in general, limit the amount of red meat you eat.
You skip fish
Certain types of fish – like salmon, mackerel, trout and herring – contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, or ‘good fats’ that don’t affect LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3s help to increase good cholesterol, reduce triglycerides and lower blood pressure. Aim to eat a 100g serving of fish, preferably a type higher in omega-3s, at least twice per week. Ask for salmon as the protein on your salad at lunch or grill up a salmon burger when you’re barbecuing at home.