There are two main types of cholesterol:
- HDL cholesterol is considered a good cholesterol because it can mop up other cholesterol and carry it to the liver where it can be broken down and disposed of.
- LDL cholesterol is the 'bad' one, it can stick to the walls of arteries thus forming a plaque. This hardening over time, narrows the passage of blood flowing to the heart and brain.
Triglycerides are other types of fats in the blood that increase the chances of stroke and heart disease. The chances of having a high triglyceride level increases if you smoke, have a diet high in sugar and bad fats, and if you drink heavily.
Here are a few dietary tips to help reduce LDL cholesterol.
1. Reduce alcohol intake
Reducing alcohol consumption helps the liver function well and reduces inflammation in the body. The liver is a very busy organ, and is responsible for many jobs like storing nutrients, metabolising proteins, activating enzymes and, manufacturing bile, plus it eliminates wastes including excess cholesterol and hormones. Ensuring that the liver is not overburdened is important for good health. Alcohol can damage and inflame the lining of the digestive system and can increase unhealthy food cravings as it lowers mood, resolve and energy.
2. Eat more dietary fibre.
Fibre has numerous benefits, including normalising bowel movement. It can bulk out stools making them soft and big, and therefore easier for the colon muscles to grip and move along. Also, loose stools are made less runny as fibre can absorb the extra water. High fibre foods are more filling and can slow the absorption of sugar. This reduces LDL cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation and by improving the digestive flow can support the liver.
Good sources of fibre are found in whole grain foods like brown rice, porridge oats and soda bread. Whole fruit (not juices) and vegetables, beans, lentils and nuts are full of fibre. The average Irish person eats only 7g of fibre a day rather than the recommended 30-35g!!!
3. Cut back on sugar, fried food and animal fats.
Fats from animal sources like sausages, rashers, cheese and all sorts of fatty foods like cream buns and chips are the worst offenders. Changing to lean meats and fish, cutting down on cakes and cheese toasties will reduce the amount of triglycerides in your diet and positively impact your LDL cholesterol. Using fats like the oils found in fresh fish including salmon, as well as those in nuts like walnuts will help as well.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates, like sliced pan, lower bile production thus, slowing the bowel and the elimination of cholesterol. Reducing sugar can improve energy, inflammation, digestive function and can even reduce food cravings. This will allow you to be more active, and energetic and will help you lose weight.
4. Try A.Vogel Artichoke
A.Vogel's Artichoke is a fresh herbal tincture made from globe artichoke. A tincture can often work better than a capsule because the active ingredient is absorbed directly into the blood, through the small capillaries in the mouth.
Artichoke works in three ways: it can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the food that is eaten, it can stem the production of cholesterol in the liver and it encourages cholesterol breakdown.
Artichoke can also improve bile flow which improves both fat metabolism and peristalsis, the muscle function of the gut. It may also improve feelings of nausea and discomfort that may be experienced after a fatty meal when digestive function is poor.
It is suitable for long term use and may be particularly beneficial for those who have an inherited tendency towards higher cholesterol levels.
A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial* was done in the University of Reading in 2008. 131 people with high cholesterol were either given a placebo or artichoke capsules for 12 weeks. The artichoke users had their cholesterol levels drop by an average of 4.2% from 7.16 to 6.86 compared to the control group who saw an average rise in cholesterol of 1.9%.
5. Try Bilberries and Garlic
Polyphenol-rich bilberries can be another useful addition to the diet. Just 150g of bilberries a day for 6 weeks was shown in another trial** to significantly decrease total cholesterol levels by 6%. LDL levels dropped by 7%, triglycerides by 27% while good cholesterol HDL rose by 6%.
Garlic can be eaten daily to improve immune function, to help lower LDL cholesterol levels and to lower blood pressure. It has excellent antioxidant properties, helping protect cells from damage and reducing inflammation. A.Vogel's Swiss Garlic capsules are organic and are infused in healthy rapeseed oil.
Having a healthy digestive system supports weight loss and 'good' HDL Cholesterol levels as well as the elimination of triglycerides and LDL Cholesterol.
6.Try A.Vogel's Molkosan
A.Vogel's Molkosan is a beneficial fermented drink that can be added to water, juice or smoothies. It provides L+Lactic Acid which is a prebiotic. Prebiotics are found in fresh fruit, legumes and vegetables, as well as other fermented foods like sauerkraut. They are necessary to create the perfect acid balance in the colon and to feed and nourish the billions of microbes and probiotics that we carry in our gut. Recent research has revealed the importance of these fellows in our immune health and, our mental and digestive health. They also appear to be able to influence cholesterol production in the liver.
Molkosan can also reduce unpleasant symptoms like wind and bloating.
*Reference: Bundy R et al. Phytomedicine 15 (2008), 668-675
** Habanova M et al. Nutrition Research 2016; doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.11.010