What is the maximum amount of cholesterol I should get in my diet?
N.A. - Sidney
Thank you for your question, which is a timely one for Heart Month. The recommended limit for dietary cholesterol intake is 300mg per day however; monitoring blood cholesterol levels gives a better indication of your cholesterol status then counting cholesterol intake numbers. Cholesterol balance is not just about what goes in but focused on how cholesterol is processed and eliminated. Further, cholesterol is only one factor in assessing cardiovascular health. Keep in mind that cholesterol is important to the body as it is the building block for sex hormone production (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone).
When having your blood cholesterol measured, the lab will measure total cholesterol and then break it down into its LDL and HDL cholesterol components. The LDL cholesterol is often called “the bad” cholesterol as it has been linked to atherosclerosis and, when elevated, suggests a higher risk of developing heart disease. A great measure for LDL cholesterol is to be below 3. The “good” cholesterol, or HDL (you can remember H for helpful), should be above 1.0. There is also a cholesterol ratio, which is a measure of how much of your total cholesterol is good (HDL) cholesterol and a general benchmark is for your ratio to be below 4. Remember that all these numbers need to be placed within the context of your story. Cholesterol is just one piece of the picture and contrary to what might seem obvious; blood cholesterol levels are less about the amount of food cholesterol in your nutrition and nutritionally speaking, more about your sugar and fat intakes, nutritional density –and your general state of health.
Here are some suggestions to help support HDL cholesterol and favour a healthy cholesterol profile:
- 1/2 lemon in warm water each morning
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon per day
- oatmeal and/or oat bran –at least ¼ cup per day
- ground flax seed -1 tbsp per day
- Increase plant-sourced foods while limiting processed food
Also consider these supplements:
- Plant sterols
- Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid
- Niacin (make sure you are aware of the niacin flush)
I hope these suggestions help you focus on the heart of the matter!!
“Health from the inside out.”
Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble.