Tips for managing high cholesterol
The following will make a significant impact on cholesterol levels and gives guidance as to what to include for a healthful diet and lifestyle. Try making a couple of changes each week until you have included as many of the suggestions as possible. If you feel unsure ask a qualified nutrition professional who can give you the right guidance and discuss any concerns:
- choose a healthful diet and lifestyle by following the recommendations below
- eat less saturated fat - reduce intake of animal products especially: red meat, high fat dairy, fried meats and cold meats such as salami and sausages
- eat a high fibre diet rich in fruits, vegetables (raw or cooked lightly), whole grains and pulses. Fibre binds to cholesterol in the large intestine and helps to eliminate excess cholesterol and bile salts.
- Reduce or eliminate coffee (any type even decaffeinated) and caffeine containing soft drinks
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas- aim for a couple of litres each day
- Eat more fish, especially the oily kind: pilchards, sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, eel, tuna or supplement a high quality fish oil such as 'Essential Omegas' by Higher Nature
- Use moderate fat dairy products
- Choose good eggs - an egg is only as good as the quality of feed and lifestyle of the chicken! Go organic wherever possible - don't buy barn eggs. Good eggs have plenty of health-giving fats, vitamins (B group) and minerals (zinc, iron, calcium, manganese)
- Use good quality cold pressed extra virgin oils: olive, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin etc.
- Eat plenty of fruit especially berries
- Eat whole grains and whole grain bread - avoid refined grains as much as possible
- Reduce sodium intake
- Take regular aerobic exercise: swimming, cycling, walking, running, rowing, tennis, badminton etc. Aim for at least 30 minutes x 4 sessions each week. The exercise should be enough to increase your breathing rate so you feel moderately out of breath - check with your fitness professional or physician first to ensure you are OK to exercise in this way. If unsure start with walking regularly and rhythmically. Include resistance training in your programme - this too has great health benefits. Exercise raises 'good' HDL cholesterol levels.
- Avoid smoking - smoking exposes you to free radicals that deplete levels of essential nutrients such as vitamin C. Smoking carries other risks to health too. Giving up, no matter how long you have been a smoker, will improve your health dramatically
- Take a supplement of niacin (but not if you are diabetic) - it has better cholesterol - lowering effect than cholesterol lowering drugs and especially impacts LDL and raises HDL. Avoid the timed-release formulas and instead go for the 'no-flush' niacin and ask your physician to monitor your cholesterol and liver enzyme levels. The therapeutic dose is quite high so check out with a nutritional practitioner
- Ensure you have sufficient pantethine in your diet as it lowers blood fats. This is safe for diabetics. Try supplementing 300mg x 3 per day. Choose the active form rather than pantothenic acid which does not have the same effect. It is particularly good for lowering triglyceride levels.
- Supplement vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart disease. Take up to 1 gram per day. Your nutrition advisor or fitness professional can advise if you need a higher dose for therapeutic reasons.
- Use garlic plentifully in salads (cooking removes its potency and beneficial effect) and supplement 10mg allicin containing formula and don't bother with the aged garlic preparations as they are less effective. This should also help if you suffer from high blood pressure.
- Have your thyroid function checked out as raised cholesterol is frequently linked to hypothyroidism
- Take flax seed oil or a blend of omega oils (at least 1 tbsp per day) - do not heat but can be poured onto food, used in dressings and whizzed up in smoothies. If you prefer you can take Omega oils in supplement form.
- Do everything possible to lose excess weight (fat) as this increases the risk of heart disease and contributes to elevated cholesterol levels
- Avoid harmful trans fats and hydrogenated fats - oils used in commercial baked goods such as cakes and biscuits, pastry and fried foods, margarine
- Alcohol - minimal intake of good red wine is beneficial to health. If you are a heavy drinker reducing intake will make a big difference to your risk for heart disease. The liver has to detoxify a large number of substances and cannot deal with fats if it is overloaded with toxins. Heavy drinking may contribute to high cholesterol levels.
- Homocysteine - get your homocysteine level checked out. This can be done with a simple kit through your nutrition advisor. Alternatively you can request that your GP takes a blood sample. High homocysteine levels are often linked with high cholesterol and heart disease risk. Homocysteine can be reduced by adequate intake of B vitamins, B6 & 12 and folic acid.
- Include nuts and seeds daily - especially rich in beneficial oils. Include: walnuts, almonds, brazils, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds.