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    Registered Dietitian Maria Ricupero shares some tips on how to lower your blood cholesterol levels.

    ​​Cholesterol is a wax-like substance found in the body. There are two types of cholesterol:

    1. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the “lousy” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol picks up cholesterol in the blood and deposits it in the endothelium (inner wall) of the artery. This leads to plaque build-up in the artery.
    2. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the “healthy” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol carries LDL cholesterol away from the blood and carries it to the liver to be recycled. By doing this, HDL cholesterol keeps the endothelium (inner wall) of the arteries healthy. 

    Our bodies need cholesterol:

    • to make vitamin D, which helps our body absorb calcium and promote bone growth
    • to make hormones like testosterone and estrogen for normal growth and reproduction
    • to keep cell membranes healthy. Cell membranes are the thin outer layer surrounding a cell that controls what goes in and out of the cell

    Eating foods high in saturated and trans fat leads to more LDL (lousy) cholesterol in the body. LDL cholesterol slowly builds up along the walls of the arteries. Over time, this can lead to plaque build-up that can make our arteries narrower. It is possible for the arteries to become so narrow that blood cannot flow through them. When blood is not able to flow to the heart or the brain, the result is a heart attack or stroke.

    Learn more about plaque build-up and heart disease »

    Cholesterol in Food

    Our bodies produce cholesterol, and we also get cholesterol from the foods we eat. Although foods high in saturated fat contain cholesterol, foods high in cholesterol are not always high in saturated fat.

    People with a heart condition or diabetes should get 200mg or less of cholesterol from food each day.

    Examples of cholesterol content in common foods

    This table tells you how much cholesterol is in some common foods.

    FoodServing SizeCholesterol Content (mg)Saturated Fat (g)
    Egg1 large2021.7
    Shrimp (boiled, steamed)6 medium (30 g)590.1
    Shrimp (breaded, fried)6 medium (30 g)1171.4
    Calamari (breaded, fried)1/2 cup (79 g)1971.7
    Crab Cake1 (60  g)900.9
    Lobster (boiled, steamed)1/2 cup (77 g)550.1
    Liver, beef2.5 oz (75 g)2861.1
    Kidney, beef2.5 oz (75 g)5370.8
    Short ribs, lean + fat2.5 oz (75 g)5711.2

    Source: "Canadian Nutrient File 2010." (opens in new window)

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