More than half of Singapore adults eat too much cholesterol: Survey

PHOTO: More than half of Singapore adults eat too much cholesterol: Survey

Singaporeans could do a little better when it comes to making good food choices.

The National Nutrition Survey 2010 showed the mean cholesterol intake for adult Singapore residents was 341mg per day.

According to the Health Promotion Board, a person's intake of cholesterol should not exceed 300mg daily.

More than half, or 54.9 per cent, of respondents met or surpassed their recommended daily intake.

A plate of oyster omelette chalks up 350mg of cholesterol, while a teaspoon of butter contributes to 40mg.

Cholesterol in the body comes from two sources: 80 per cent of it is made in the liver and the rest comes from a person's diet. So people should watch their dietary cholesterol, which is contained in food such as eggs and shellfish.

In addition, two to three out of five to seven servings of carbohydrates eaten daily should come from wholegrain products.

These are good sources of soluble fibre which have the ability to bind cholesterol in the gut, reducing its absorption and increasing its excretion.

Also, not all fats are equal or equally bad. Eat saturated fats, found in dairy products and meat, sparingly as it increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and the corresponding total cholesterol levels.

Avoid trans fats, made from the hydrogenation of vegetable oil, which lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and increases LDL cholesterol levels.

The best fats to consume are unsaturated fats as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.

What are the top five things one can do to have a cholesterol-lowering diet?

Know your meats

Choose leaner cuts of meat, such as loin or breast meat. Avoid sausages, Chinese sausages and luncheon meat.

Limit intake of red meat, such as beef, lamb, duck and goose, as they are higher in fat than white meat such as chicken and pork.

Remove skin and visible fat from poultry.

Choose healthier oils

Choose healthier oils for cooking, such as canola, olive and sunflower oils. Avoid tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut milk. Replace coconut milk or coconut cream used in cooking with skimmed milk or low-fat milk.

When eating out, ask for no or less oil to be added to food.

Be aware of cooking methods

Adopt healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, grilling, roasting, baking and stewing, instead of deep frying. For example, it is healthier to eat grilled fish and baked potatoes instead of fish and chips.

Use a non-stick pan when cooking to reduce the use of cooking oil.

Scoop out the layer of solidified fat on top of chilled stews, casseroles and soups before heating up and serving.

When eating out, choose soupy dishes instead of fried dishes. For example, opt for beehoon soup instead of fried beehoon. Also, choose boiled wantons (dumplings) instead of fried ones.

Limit cholesterol-rich food

Eat animal organs, such as pig liver or kidneys, no more than once a month and even then, in small portions.

Consume egg yolks no more than thrice a week. Have seafood, such as shellfish, prawns and crabs, not more than twice a week.

Be a wise shopper

Choose products with the Healthier Choice Symbol as they are lower in total fats and saturated fats compared with other products in similar categories.

These products also have no trans fat or negligible amounts of it per serving.

Read the ingredient list to identify products that contain vegetable shortening and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as they are high in saturated and trans fats. Choose these products less often.

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