Tiva Luckett



Healthy Eating For High Cholesterol

{mosimage}Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in the body, the levels of which are checked by blood tests. Two types of cholesterol are measured, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein).

  • The ideal level for total blood cholesterol is below 5.2 mmol/l
  • HDL levels should ideally be above 0.9 mmol/l, and
  • LDL should be below 3 mmol/l.

LDL has been linked to coronary heart disease, whereas HDL has a protective effect.
High levels of triglycerides (another lipid) in the blood are also associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

  • The ideal range for triglycerides is between 1.2 to 2.0 mmol/l.

Heart disease occurs when lipids are deposited on the lining of the arteries, which build up. This causes narrowing, or hardening, of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and eventually a complete blockage of the artery and heart attack. Chest pain (angina) can result as the blood tries to flow through the narrowed arteries. It can also increase the risk of stroke.

Individuals who have a high fat intake, are overweight and have a high waist to hip ratio, or an "apple" shape, where the fat is typically situated centrally around the abdomen, are particularly at risk. This type of fat is more unstable and is more easily released into the blood stream, increasing the levels of circulating cholesterol.

The Role of Diet
High lipid levels in the body can be treated with diet and exercise, and sometimes drugs are prescribed. The drugs work either by affecting the way the body absorbs fat, or by stopping the liver producing cholesterol. Cholesterol in the body is either synthesised by the liver or is provided by the diet, therefore a change in diet can help reduce cholesterol. Dietary intervention can help to slow down the development of further blockages, and may possibly reverse some of the damage.

The levels of cholesterol in the blood are linked to the quantity and type of fat consumed in the diet. Studies have shown that the amount of saturated fat in the diet directly relates to cholesterol level. While essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3, increase HDL are therefore reduce total cholesterol. Foods, such as eggs, offal and shellfish, contain cholesterol, therefore need to be eliminated from the diet. Factors effecting triglyceride levels include being overweight and excessive alcohol and sugar intake. Alcohol and sugar are metabolised by the liver and excessive intakes increase the amount of triglyceride that the liver has to produce.

Diet Changes


  • Reduce amount of saturated fat consumed (mostly comes from animal sources); especially beef, cheese, cream, butter, whole milk, buttermilk, yoghurt, also remove skin from chicken before cooking it. Ostrich is a lean meat that can be eaten occasionally, and cold water deep sea fish should be eaten at least twice a week e.g. tuna, salmon, sardines, halibut, mackerel.
  • No trans-fats or hydrogenated oil, found in processed foods e.g. biscuits and margarine.
  • Use cold pressed oils and do not heat them, you can add a small amount of olive oil after cooking if you want.
  • Eat raw, unsalted nuts and seeds (no more than a hand full a day) good for the omega oils and also a soluble form of fibre.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. More veg than fruit, as fruit is high in sugar. Some veg should be eaten raw as this retains the nutrients – organic where possible.
  • Include plenty of fibre in the diet, especially soluble fibre such as oats, grains, veggies, legumes, psyllium husk, ground flax seed.
  • No more than two or three eggs a week (this includes the eggs in baked foods!)
  • Cut down on sugar and foods containing sugar, processed biscuits, cakes etc.
  • Reduce alcohol and coffee consumption.
  • Use less salt.
  • Cut out fast foods and junk foods, such as pizza, hamburgers, chips, crisps etc.

Preferred cooking methods include steaming, boiling, stewing, grilling and roasting. Water frying works well if you have a good frying pan. Stay away from frying with oil and foods fried in oil, especially greasy deep-fat-fried ones!

Nutritional Supplements
Soya lecithin, this can be added in smoothies, sprinkled on your cereal or porridge, added to gravies etc.
Take a cold pressed flax seed oil or a salmon oil (GLA, DHA) supplement daily.
Vitamin Bs are important, especially B12 and B9.
Antioxidants such as CoQ10, Vitamin C, E, quercitin, resveratrol.

Drink plenty of filtered water.
Exercise regularly.
Relax, reduce stress as much as is possible.
Keep happy and healthy!


Posted in Conditions

Cardiovascular Disease and Food

If you have high cholesterol also see healthy eating for high cholesterol.

To Lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Decrease total fats in diet
- Decrease cholesterol in diet
- Increase essential fatty acids
- Increase fibre (especially oats and psyllium husk)
- Increase complex carbohydrates
- Decrease caffeine and nicotine
- Supplement nutrients: Vitamin B3, B6, B12, C; chromium; EPA & GLA; garlic; red rice yeast.

To Increase HDL ‘good’ cholesterol
- Get regular aerobic exercise
- Do not smoke
- Decrease body weight
- Supplement nutrients: essential fatty acids; niacin; EPA, fibre and L-carnitine.

Risks of CVD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol (especially high LDL levels), high triglyceride levels, and obesity, as well as some cases of diabetes. High fat consumption, low fibre intake, high cholesterol and excess sodium intake are influential nutritional risks. Non-diet risks include smoking, stress and lack of exercise. Proper diet alone can decrease cholesterol levels by 30% or more. It is clear that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol leads to increased blood cholesterol levels and increased atherosclerosis. It takes dedication, and sometimes a complete lifestyle change, to make these changes.

The primary dietary focus for preventing CVD is reducing fat intake. The diet should be low in fat and particularly low in:
- saturated fats (especially animal fats, including dairy)
- hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated fats (margarine and most packaged refined foods), and
- poor quality oils, especially when heated in cooking.

Fat intake should be reduced to a maximum of 20% of total calories. This is not easy because it includes all fried foods, meats,dairy products, eggs, nuts, and seeds, which also clearly reduces protein intake. Supplementing with essential fatty acids,and using good-quality cold-pressed vegetable oils (poly/monounsaturated); and avoidance of many of the less healthy fats is best, such as refined cooking oils and hydrogenated fats like margarine.

Particularly helpful oils are contained in deep sea cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring. These contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (dicosahexaenoic acid), which have a positive effect on lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Consuming these oily fish two or three times a week has been proven be beneficial.

To prevent atherosclerosis, a diet low in cholesterol and high in fibre is recommended. Fibre reduces CVD risk by binding cholesterol and fats and passing them out of the body, therefore reducing their absorption and subsequently decreasing blood cholesterol and LDL. Increased fibre levels can also help to reduce blood pressure levels. Oats has been shown to help reduce cholestrol levels, and reduce weight in those who suffer from obesity.

In addition, a low-salt and low-sugar diet is also suggested. Excess sugar causes an increase in calories, weight, and blood fats, and is a direct risk factor in CVD. More complex carbohydrates, including whole grain and vegetable foods, are important for CVD prevention.

Dietary Suggestions to Reduce CVD Risk
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, and leave skin on.
- Eat more whole grains, legumes and beans.
- Fat intake no more than 25% of the diet.
- Reduce cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day.
- Reduce consumption of eggs to about three per week.
- Minimise use of whole milk and dairy products.
- Avoid red meats, eliminate all cured/processed meats, chicken can be eaten occassionally but without skin.
- Eat more deep sea cold water fish.
- Use fresh, cold-pressed oils, such as olive or flaxseed, to provide the essential fatty acids, and do not heat oils.
- Replace snacks with low fat foods such as corn thins, rice cakes, Finn crisp or ryvita.
- Add oat bran to cereals and use whole grain cereals in place of sugary ones, such as oats.
- Substitute ice-cream for fruit juice ices.
- Use low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese or ricotta.
- Increase salads in summer and veggie soups in winter.
- Consume cookies and treats with no saturated fats and lower/no sugar content, sweeteners can include dried fruit, xylitol or stevia, or fruit-juice-sweetened sweets.
- Include garlic in your food, it has a cholesterol lowering effect, as do onions, ginger and cayenne pepper.
- Soybeans and soy products such as tofu, tempeh, miso and soy lecithin may have a positive effect on cholesterol and atherosclerosis; and are low in fat and high in protein.
- Millet and buckwheat, okra, asparagus, apples and bananas, red rice yeast, and flaxseed (linseed) oil may reduce cholesterol.
- Ground flaxseeds are a good source of soluble fibre and essential oils and may help reduce blood fat levels and fatty deposits.

Posted in Conditions