Tackling high cholesterol with food

Health

Tackling high cholesterol with food

BY FITZ-GEORGE RATTRAY

Sunday, July 12, 2020

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IT is always wonderful to see nutrition and lifestyle changes working with medical directives and supervision to change people's lives.

Over the years, we at InteKai Academy have had many members with diagnosed medical conditions move from near hopelessness to striking improvements. Their doctors have reduced their doses, and in several cases taken them off prescribed medications completely as their numbers and blood work improved steadily over time with their InteKai lifestyle journey.

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you can make changes which may keep you away from the worst outcomes of this condition.

With medical supervision, you can see life-changing and life-saving changes — the choice is yours.

Basic lifestyle changes

There are well-known and proven activities which help in the treatment of high cholesterol that your physician may have advised you of. These include:

• Increased exercise;

• Increased fibre;

• More fruits and vegetables;

• Increased omega-3 rich foods;

• Decreased animal fats; and

• Decreased saturated fats.

All too often these end up being only words and do not result in actual change, leading to a lifetime of medication or tragedy.

Let us avoid those outcomes by getting a better understanding of what is happening with you.

What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol, as you may have already guessed, are fats. We need cholesterol to survive. They are so essential, in fact, that our own bodies produce them, and the balance of cholesterol can be life-changing.

There are two types of cholesterol in question, LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins). It is commonly known that an increase in the LDL or bad cholesterol, is potentially unhealthy, but it is lesser known but equally important that a decrease in HDL, or good cholesterol, can be equally detrimental.

LDL cholesterol is the one often referred to when we are talking about high cholesterol levels. In order to help you remember this you can think of it as the L(lousy)DL cholesterol. We need to keep track of ingesting these cholesterol, often found in saturated fats (the kinds which are usually solids at room temperature). Saturated fats are most often found in animal fat sources such as:

• Mammal meats, especially the fatty cuts and skin;

• Mammal tails;

• Poultry fats, especially skin;

• Lard, animal fats used for frying (potato fries and chips) and often in baking flaky, crusty pastry;

• Dairy, you must already know this, cheeses, butters, everything but zero fat milk and the yolks (yellow) of eggs.

Cholesterol can also be found in some plant sources such as coconut milk/oil.

High levels of LDL cholesterol in your diet can result in blocked arteries, blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage, but, with the correct information and right choices, this does not need to be your future.

The food breakdown

While it is true that LDL management is notoriously tricky and the effects on diet varies from one group of individuals to another, there are certain foods that are known to hurt and others which will help your health.

The more you commit to avoiding or eliminating the damaging foods and the more consistently you have the foods that help, the more likely you will get your LDL number under control.

Foods to avoid or eliminate

1. Sugar: Yes, excessive sugar, refined sugars and even excessive healthy natural sugars.

A study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that increased sugar intake decreases our good HDL cholesterol levels. The study also found that women with a sugary diet tend to have higher levels of the bad cholesterol. So, avoid man-made packaged products and baked products.

2. Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates, including flour and its products such as pasta, are rapidly absorbed and break down to increase blood sugar levels

3. Refined/white rice

4. All processed foods with saturated fats, trans fats or more than nine grams of sugar per serving (always read labels, content, and nutritional information on packages)

5. Salty foods

6. Fatty cuts of meats (remember you already produce LDL, every bite of saturated fats from other animals will increase your LDL levels), including pork chops and spare ribs.

7. Poultry, fatty parts such as chicken leg, wings, and the skin

8. Bacon

9. Organ meats, liver, et cetera

10. Mammal tails

11. Full dairy products: Cheese, butter, milk, cream, whipped cream, evaporated milk, half and half, condensed milk, and ice cream

12. Deep-fried fast foods

13. Coconut oil and coconut milk

14. Processed foods, pastries, especially pastries with a flakey crust

15. Shellfish, canned shrimp (high in heart-healthy omega 3s, but they have the most cholesterol of any seafood)

16. Sardine

17. Egg yolk (yellow). I am a strong advocate for moderate use of eggs, but if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol levels avoid egg yolks; stick with the white, if necessary.

Foods which help lower your bad cholesterol levels

• Dark green leafy vegetables

• Colourful vegetables and fruit, but not more that one or two servings of fruit per day. Remember, sugar can worsen your cholesterol condition.

• Berries

• Oats: A cup of oats, lightly sweetened, if necessary, is known to help reduce LDL levels and reduce risks of heart disease. Berries and fruits, seeds and nuts can be added for variety.

• Whole grains, barley, quinoa, genuine whole-grain products

• Meats which are clean cuts, at least 92 per cent fat-free

• Poultry that is skinless and lean, such as turkey or chicken breast

• Fat-free Greek yogurts

• Nut milk

• Seeds and nuts

• Vitamin D, omega-3 rich foods and calcium from green leafy vegetables, cold water fish, salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, walnuts, flaxseed, and enriched soy products

• Healthy oils, truly small servings of avocado, sunflower oil ̶ avoid heating

If you have not been diagnosed, remember, check-ups with your physician are always useful. But, if you or someone you love have a family history of high cholesterol, are over 40 years old, overweight — even moderately — a smoker, are hypertensive, and live a relatively sedentary life, you may be at risk. See your physician.

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, these dietary changes and simple life changes, such as regular exercise — no matter how moderate — can highly likely save your future.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 876-863- 5923, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org.


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