Getting a high cholesterol reading from your GP can be a bit of a shock but if you have been advised to reduce your cholesterol there are lots of natural things you can to help. This month i have researched a few natural tips which you can apply either alongside prescription medication or before you are recommended to take it.
Although it can be upsetting to find your Cholesterol levels are higher than desirable, in some ways it can serve as a very useful motivator to improve your diet and your exercise routine! We all know that avoiding unhealthy fats is important for everyone, so most people who want to have a healthy diet aim to cut out or reduce fried foods, fatty meats, too many rich and sweet foods and too many processed foods.
Alongside these changes it is important to increase amount of soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet (fibre binds to fat and carries it out of your body). So plenty of vegetables – raw, lightly cooked or juiced. And plenty of fruit (fruit is best in its whole form – too many smoothies and juice are actually very sugary and can be worse for you because of the high sugar levels). And of course plenty of wholegrain foods – bread, rice, even pasta can be made healthy by choosing the wholegrain varieties.
Apart from fruit and vegetables, another good way of improving your fibre levels is to eat porridge or muesli (not over-processed cereals like cornflakes) and add a selection of super-healthy ingredients like ground seeds (flax has the best track-record of lowering cholesterol – try Irish Health Oils ground Flax Seed) and lecithin. Some probiotic yoghurt is also excellent – preferably not a sugary yoghurt but a natural one. Add berries, grated apple or pear and you have a super-healthy breakfast!
It’s important to remember that not all fat is bad (confusing I know). For example, cooking on medium to low heats with olive oil, Rape Seed Oil or an organic Sunflower Oil is fine, and so is eating home-made salad dressings with good natural oils (for example try Flax, Udo’s Hemp, Olive, Pumpkin, Avocado). Trying to cut out all fats can actually be harmful – our bodies need fat for many purposes including keeping our heart healthy! It might seem contradictory but taking nutritional oils – as long as they are healthy oils and we use them correctly – is healthy, so for example you might decide to take Eskimo Oil ( a fish oil) or Udo’s Oil (a plant-based omega oil) to keep your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels up and your not-so-good LDL levels down. Call into Organico for more information.
If you are advised to try to reduce your levels in a few months and feel you need extra help, you might find it useful to try taking Plant Sterol Esthers. We have all heard the adverts for Plant Sterols, they have been shown to reduce LDL levels by at least 10% in 6 weeks, which when combined with the reduction you will gain by changing your diet and lifestyle is very significant. Plant Sterols are now being added to margarine and sweet drinks – but to me anyway it seems strange that you need to take a lot of either fatty or very sweet foods in order to get the active dose! Like many things that are healthy it is vey hard to get the required dose through diet alone. We now have an alternative called Zerochol, a tablet of pure Plant Sterol Esthers which you take once a day with your main meal. And the interesting news is that the manufacturers say it is safe to take even if you are on medication, and can increase the effectiveness of some anti-cholesterol medication to the extent that your GP might reduce the dose.