In September last year, I thought I was suffering from the worst heartburn in the world. Until I found out, that what I actually had was gallstones. Read more about my experience here https://itsasherthing.co.za/lifestyle/how-i-found-out-i-had-gall-stones/ mine were caused from having high cholesterol (familial). Before opting for statins, I am trying to reduce my cholesterol with a healthier diet and exercise and so I spoke to registered Dietitian and ADSA Spokesperson, Faaizah Laher for tips and tricks on how to naturally combat high cholesterol.
This is what she had to say:
After a gallbladder removal, you should follow a lower fat diet. Here are some critical points you can look at when you want to bring your cholesterol down to a normal level:
Look at your meals and check if you are eating enough fiber rich foods. Fiber helps to bind cholesterol in the GUT, and allows you to pass it out as opposed to absorbing it! Aim to eat 2-4 servings of fruit and 2-4 servings of vegetables per day. A serving of fruit is a small fruit the size of a tennis ball, or 1/2 cup fruit salad. A vegetable serving is cup of non starchy vegetables. Do you start your day with a fiber rich breakfast ? include a fiber rich porridge or cereal ( Whole wheat pronutro, oats, Future life,), or a slice of whole wheat, low GI toast with peanut butter, smashed avo (1/4 avo), cottage cheese. Need something more substantial? mushrooms and spinach in an omelet!
Does your lean protein and low GI starch options have a small vegetable portion to balance it out? By including a low GI starch with a salad that extra fiber on you plate, quick and easy. Include vegetables that make you feel good to eat, so it can be a side green salad to a stir fry from the night before or even left over roast vegetables all wrapped up in a whole wheat wrap.
Keeping fruits as a snack is also an easy way to include deliciously juicy fiber to your day.
Supper should also have a vegetable and a low GI starch together with the correct amount of lean protein for your weight. Try something like a cup of peppers and mushrooms stir fried into a tomato sauce, over whole wheat pasta. Chicken curry with chopped greens and brown rice.
A few foods with a high fiber content are: Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pastas and breads, oats,
Honestly, adding fiber has never sounded this tempting am i right?
A product like Glucachol 22 (which is a specialised type of oat fiber) can also help to lower your cholesterol!
– Fatty fish and omega 3 fatty acids:
Omega 3 fatty acids also help to lower cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. Including 2- 3 servings of fatty fish a week, or if you don’t like fish, to think about taking an omega 3 fatty acid supplement. Other healthy options to focus on include those foods high in unsaturated fats like nuts and seeds—including chia and flax, as well as olive oil, avocado. Other strategies to include more fatty acids are:
To use avocados or nut butters for spreads or toppings.
- In cooking, use canola, olive, avocado, peanut, soybean, corn, or safflower oils.
- Have fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna 2 times per week.
- Add a handful of nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, or chia seeds.
- Include tofu, soybeans and edamame more often.
– Achieve healthy weight.
If you are overweight, losing even 5%of your weight may help you to lower your cholesterol and lower your risks for heart disease. To help you lose weight, you can:
- Increase fruits and vegetables intake
- Decrease added sugars from sugar sweetened drinks and foods
- Eat out less often.
Sweet foods and treats
Many servings of sweets, cakes, desserts and other sweet snacks can also raise your cholesterol while you are working so hard to bring it down. Lower your ‘sweet’ cravings but ensuring you have enough greens and a balanced diet, are eating enough healthy snacks. Sugary and sweet foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle without being super restrictive!
Get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise every week. Any type of Exercise can help increase your HDL (good) cholesterol which helps to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Exercise will also help you to lose weight if you need to. Remember to choose activities that you will enjoy such as a brisk walk, biking, swimming, or running. Any little bit of being active will make a big difference! Look at how many days a week you are getting to the gym, and how intense the sessions are. Re-evaluate if the sessions are very light and you don’t break a sweat.
These are just general guidelines. But if you contact a Dietician near you, He/She will be able to properly evaluate your diet and lifestyle and give you a plan you need to reach your cholesterol lowering goals!