Every year, tens of thousands die from heart attacks and strokes caused by a high cholesterol count. Yet, though most people are vaguely aware of cholesterol, few seem to know what it is or what it does. Basically, it is a fatty substance produced by the liver and essential for the body’s cells. If your levels are high, this probably means your liver has ceased to effectively break down the “LDL”, or “low-density lipoproteins”. If your doctor has warned you that your levels are too high, or if you simply wish to avoid it in the first place, try the following:
1) Take supplements. The most effective by far are vitamin E and the B-group vitamins. Vitamin E will prevent the cholesterol oxidising, while the B-group vitamins will prevent the elevation of homocysteine levels, leading to the formation of plaque in the arteries- something to be avoided at all costs. If you decide to try supplements, make sure you buy a good quality brand.
2) Cut dangerous foods from your diet. Avoid fried foods, barbecued meats, and hard margarines. Again, these will lead to cholesterol oxidising and attaching to artery walls. It would be sensible to cut down on animal and dairy fats generally and to replace them with essential fats (from oily fish, for example). Finally, cut down on the amount of refined carbohydrates you consume, such as pastries, white bread, donuts, white rice, and so on. These reduce the quantity of HDL (the good sort of cholesterol) and lead to raised amounts of LDL (the bad sort).
3) Eat friendly foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables and dried fruits, like raisins and dates, which contain high levels of magnesium and potassium. You also need to increase the amount of healthy fats, found in oily fish, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Fibre is also vital for controlling cholesterol levels, so stock up on oats, kidney beans, brown rice, whole wheat, and millet.
4) Combine statins with CoQ10. Hailed as the new wonder drug, statins block an enzyme which manufactures cholesterol. If you have a cholesterol problem, you have most probably been prescribed this medication. However, this same enzyme is responsible for CoQ10, itself necessary to protect against heart disease, so take Co-enzyme Q10 supplements.
5) Exercise. This is crucial in the fight against cholesterol, raising HDL levels and lowering LDL levels. But make the exercise gentle and regular. Too many people do little exercise during the working week and then compensate for this by hitting the gym on a Friday night and again over the weekend. But the best form of exercise is gentle, yet regular. Try walking out in the countryside every day, striding out and not pausing for breath. Then, when you have finished, warm down with some yoga.
6) Eat garlic. There is evidence to suggest that garlic helps the body raise its HDL over LDL cholesterol levels – especially if you have an A or AB blood type. Of course, raw garlic bulbs would be best, but you do not want to sacrifice your friends and family for the sake of your health! If you try a supplement, however, buy the odorless capsules rather than tablets.
It can be quite a struggle to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol, and you should always follow your physician’s advice. However, try combining the above tips with anything you are prescribed. As with most health conditions, the key is to hit it from all sides.