Love your heart this Valentine’s day…it’s the only one you have!
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Cholesterol – what’s your number? Do you suffer with high cholesterol? If so, are you changing your eating and lifestyle habits to bring this number down? Read on.
Our bodies need it to make certain hormones, to keep cells strong and protect blood vessels, so why do alarm bells ring when we’re told we have a high reading?
Perhaps because “Someone dies from a heart attack every six minutes – that’s 10 people every hour” according to cardiacmatters.co.uk, and a high blood cholesterol test unfortunately, is one of the main contributors towards this. So is it just a matter of reducing this number?
Well yes and no, with your body having 2 types of cholesterol – HDL and LDL, it can all get a little confusing.
In a nutshell we’re trying to increase the ‘good’ cholesterol levels in our blood, the HDL, the ‘helpers’ the little guys who carry the cholesterol away from our cells and back to the liver to get rid of them, while reducing the ‘bad’ type, the LDL.
These guys carry the cholesterol back to our cells when we’ve over-indulged in a high saturated fat/high sugar, generally poor diet, and not taking care of our lifestyle appropriately.
Let’s remember though, that our health is not simply what we eat, our sleeping patterns, our exercise levels, whether we over indulge in alcohol, our stress levels and whether or not we smoke all play a part too.
On top of this, genetics can influence whether you are likely to develop high cholesterol. So rather than waiting for nature to take its course, let’s see what we can do to prevent and reduce that number.
Top foods to include to reduce a high cholesterol reading, without having to take Statin drugs (as these can inhibit the production of both the good and the bad cholesterol, something we do not want) are:
1. Oat bran
3. Oily fish – mackerel/salmon /sardines
4. Porridge oats
5. Extra virgin olive oil
6. Green tea for its high anti-oxidant content
7. Soluble Fibre
Fibre is the little unknown warrior in the war against high cholesterol. Eating a high fibre diet can reduce your LDL score significantly: “Studies have shown that consuming 10 to 25 grams soluble fiber a day can lower cholesterol by 18%” – www.cholesterol.about.com
Unfortunately, as a nation we are not getting enough. Many of us consume less than half the recommended 25-30g fibre per day. So, if you’re worried about your cholesterol levels, here are the top 3 foods to eat daily:
1. Beans – not Mr Heinz’s variety!
3. Lentils – add to soups and stir fry
• Stop smoking
• Increase exercise
• Reduce alcohol intake to within the recommended guidelines – 11 standard drinks per week for women, and 17 for men
• Up your intake of fibre rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and pulses
• Eat a diet low in sugar and processed foods
• Add garlic to foods
• Grab a handful of walnuts every day
• Take a pro-biotic drink or yogurt
As they say, every little helps and you really cannot afford to take your health for granted. Small changes make big differences; with Valentine’s day coming up this week remember to love your own heart!
LISA’S TIP: Drinking 1 glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing in evening with a spoonful of flax/oat bran mix will lower your reading. It may not taste delightful, but your health is much more important.
Lisa offers tailored Nutritional Plans at Choice by Lisa, find her on Facebook! Lisa also runs Unislim classes in Newry on a Wednesday evening and Saturday morning – log on to www.unislim.com for more details.
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