Eat plenty of fish and fibre to lower cholesterol

Eat plenty of fish
Eat plenty of fish

A common concern associated with a modern lifestyle is raised cholesterol levels.

A common concern associated with a modern lifestyle is raised cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol is linked to heart disease and strokes, so it’s something that attracts a lot of attention when it comes to government health concerns.

Visiting your GP for a yearly blood test, cholesterol is usually something they’ll be keeping an eye on.

Statistically, we are more likely to suffer with heart disease or a stroke as we get older, so the older we are, the more likely it is that your GP will want to know your cholesterol levels.

There are many factors that contribute to high cholesterol, so I believe it’s important to look at each person as an individual, regardless of their age.

If it’s been some time since you’ve visited your doctor, there are a few signs to look out for that may indicate your cholesterol is high.

Do any of your family members have a history of heart disease or stroke?

High cholesterol can be genetic and this will influence whether your doctor believes you to be at risk or not.

Naturally, if you have a sibling who lived off junk food, chain smoked and developed diabetes before having a heart attack, you are not necessarily predisposed to the same risks, unless you share their lifestyle.

Other signs include a grey or yellowish ring around the cornea of the eye.

Another clue is tissue growths around the eye and eyelid.

These occur as a result of fat and cholesterol being deposits.

If you have other health conditions such as diabetes or fatty liver disease, it’s especially important to keep an eye on your cholesterol.

Most advice surrounding cholesterol is focused on what not to do.

We know we shouldn’t smoke or eat a lot of fatty foods, but when I speak to my patients, I like to put a heavier focus on what we should be doing.

Firstly, ensure you’re getting enough fibre.

Fibre acts like a sponge, mopping up cholesterol to stop you absorbing it.

Ensure you are eating five portions of vegetables a day.

One portion should be approximately a handful, so that’s five handfuls of veg per day, minimum.

Swap your breakfast for an oat based meal and choose whole grain foods when buying bread, rice, pasta and carbs.

Beans and pulses are excellent fibres, so add them into meals when possible.

I suggest adding them to soups and stews, any mince based dish like chilli or cottage pie and in salads.

Increase your fish intake. Omega 3 has a positive effect on cholesterol, so swap meats for fish often.

Take up a hobby that involves some exercise and make sure any other health conditions you have are properly managed, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

If you find yourself doing everything you can to bring your cholesterol down, yet the figures don’t seem to move, your high cholesterol could be genetic.

If this is the case, your GP will offer you some medication to bring your levels down.

Many people I see, ask me about taking herbs instead of cholesterol medications.

I recommend a formula called cholesterol maintenance which is a combination of liver supporting herbs and red yeast rice.

It takes about two months to reach its full potential, so if a persons doctor is happy for them to try something herbal, I get excellent results with dietary adjustments alongside the cholesterol maintenance formula.

If you’re using a formula like cholesterol maintenance, make sure you get a blood test done a couple of months after starting it, so you can be sure that your cholesterol levels are healthy.

Many pharmacies offer a cholesterol testing service, so if you can’t get in to your GP, ask your local pharmacist.

Managing cholesterol can seem daunting, especially if your focus is on all the foods you shouldn’t eat.

Instead, focus on what you should eat and fill your diet and lifestyle with enough cholesterol busting habits, that there isn’t much room left for the negative ones that you want to leave behind.

For more information on managing your cholesterol with the help of a herbalist, contact Nicola at Health and Herbs, 9 Pedder Street, Morecambe, on 01524 413733.