Two thirds of Irish adults are eating more fat than their body needs

 Two thirds of Irish adults are eating more fat than their body needs

New stats on eating habits are being highlighted as part of a drive to reduce the number of heart disease and stroke victims. 10,000 people die annually as a result of the illnesses.

WHILE ALMOST ALL adults questioned in a new survey on eating habits correctly identified that foods high in saturated fats are the main cause of high cholesterol, two thirds are still eating more fat than their body needs.

The findings are being highlighted by the Irish Heart Foundation as part of a drive to convince people to lower their intake of saturated and trans fats.

100,000 new cases of heart disease and stroke are diagnosed in Ireland every year, and almost 10,000 families lose a loved one to the illnesses annually.

The Behaviour & Attitudes survey found that 96 per cent of adults correctly identified that saturated fats led to high cholesterol. Four out of five adults aged over 45 are affected by high cholesterol levels – however, two thirds of these cases go untreated.

According to Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Angie Brown: “Cholesterol has become a household word and one which is often associated with a need to keep it as low as possible. Yet even today, many people are unaware of their levels or how to keep it at a healthy level.

It is a type of fat produced naturally by the liver and we need it for normal cell function, so not all cholesterol is bad. But LDL (bad cholesterol) can lead to plaque on artery walls and cause narrowing.

The IHF has published a set of ten facts, entitled ‘Fats of Life’, as part of a guide to cholesterol ahead of Irish Heart Month, taking place throughout September.

“We want people to understand the different types of cholesterol and how they are influenced by their diet and lifestyle, for example regular physical activity improves HDL, the good cholesterol,” Brown said.

“It’s also important to remember that cholesterol readings can change, especially as we get older which is why we recommend regular check ups and not a one-off check.”

 

  1. Fat is an important part of a healthy diet.
  2. All types of fat, both good and bad, are high in calories so you only need small amounts in your diet.
  3. Too many bad fats such as saturated fat in the diet can increase LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
  4. Trans fat is an especially bad fat as it can increase LDL “bad” cholesterol and also decrease HDL “good” cholesterol.
  5. You don’t need to cut out meat for a healthy cholesterol.
  6. You don’t need to cut out dairy foods for a healthy cholesterol.
  7. An egg a day is ok.
  8. Not all fat is bad.
  9. Some types of fat are essential.
  10. Some good fats not only lower LDL “bad” cholesterol but can also help keep your heart healthy.

  

How to lower cholesterol… 

  • Choose fewer foods from the top shelf of the Food Pyramid such as chocolate, crisps, cakes, biscuits, sweets.
  • Eat oily fish twice a week e.g. salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna.
  • Choose lean meats. Trim fat off meat and skin off chicken.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products and spreads.
    Use low-fat healthy ways of cooking, like grilling or oven-baking, instead of frying.
  • Get down to a healthy weight – being overweight means the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.
  • Be more physically active every day.
  • If a person has being diagnosed with high cholesterol he/she will be advised by their doctor to make changes to their lifestyle and may recommend medication. If medication is prescribed, it is important that instructions are followed carefully.