Rapeseed Oil and Cholesterol
8th August 2016
Rapeseed oil and cholesterol
On average, most of us in the UK eat too much saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, which may increase the risk of heart disease. The store cupboard ingredient, rapeseed oil, sometimes labelled vegetable oil (check the ingredients list on the bottle), is lower in saturated fat than other commonly used cooking oils and fats (e.g. approx. 50% less than olive oil). It’s high in unsaturated fats, particularly mono-unsaturated. Replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats such as rapeseed oil as part of a healthy, balanced diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which may help to lower the risk of heart disease.
More on the health benefits of rapeseed oil
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in all the cells of the body. Some cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D, some hormones and bile for digestion. Cholesterol is made by the liver, and it can also be found in some foods we eat such as eggs and prawns. However, the cholesterol found in food has much less of an effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood than the amount of saturated fat you eat.
Good and bad cholesterol explained
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by special vehicles called lipoproteins. The two main types of lipoprotein are:
- HDL (high density lipoprotein) – known as ‘good’ cholesterol because it carries cholesterol away from parts of the body where there’s too much, back to the liver, where it’s broken down or passed from the body as a waste product.
- LDL (low density lipoprotein) – known as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to parts of the body that need it, but too much bad LDL cholesterol in your blood can cause fatty material to build up in your artery walls, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The risk is particularly high if you have a high level of bad cholesterol and a low level of good cholesterol.
Why is managing cholesterol important?
Too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of getting cardiovascular disease; conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels like heart disease and stroke. Maintaining normal, healthy cholesterol levels plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes and angina. Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. About one in seven men and one in eleven women die from coronary heart disease, but in many cases it’s preventable.
How to reduce cholesterol?
With around half of all heart attacks in the UK being caused by high cholesterol, a healthy balanced diet, combined with other good lifestyle choices such as an active lifestyle, giving up smoking and consuming alcohol within government guidelines is important. We should all be eating a healthy balance of foods to help keep our hearts healthy – and foods like rapeseed oil can help.
More on cholesterol via NHS Choices website
More on cholesterol via British Heart Foundation website
More on cholesterol via Heart UK website
Recipes – the tasty way to managing cholesterol
Here are a few simple recipes using rapeseed oil:
Split Pea Soup with Spicy Moroccan Drizzle
Oat Topped Mackerel with Roast Tomatoes
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