Cholesterol and Healthy Eating

Q. During my last check-up, the Doctor told me that my cholesterol is high.  He also said that my "bad" cholesterol was high and the good cholesterol was low.  I am not a fan of exercise, but he has also said I should start this as it would help my cholesterol levels.  Surely there must be a nutritional way to tackle this problem.  What herbs could I take to ensure that I get my levels under control? Answer: I take it to understand that your total cholesterol is high and that you understand that there are two components.   The high density lipoprotein (HDL) is generally called the good cholesterol and the low density lipoprotein (LDL) is called the bad cholesterol.   You can increase your HDL through exercise and this is good.   You would however wish to lower your bad cholesterol since this indicates that you have a high risk of getting a heart attack. As a nutritionist, we recommend first and foremost eating less foods high in fat and especially the saturated fat from meat and other animal foods.  You should then eat more food low in fat and especially the fresh and wholesome foods of plant origin like fruits, vegetables, dried peas and beans and provisions.  If you are overweight, you should eat less food generally to lower the calories eaten so that you will shed excess body fat.    These measures are the best for reducing total cholesterol but as said above, you can increase the good cholesterol by coupling weight loss with exercise. Now to your question about herbs.   Probably the most popular is garlic but you would need to eat about 30 cloves of raw garlic daily to get enough of the active ingredient called allicin.   Some supplements give allicin in its pure form but you would have to read the labels.   Fish oil, though not a herb, may be useful if you have a tendency to clotting of blood as it has omega-3-oils that thin the blood.   Again, supplements are best since you would need to eat about one pound of fresh oily fish daily to get the required amount.  Some vitamins referred to as antioxidants may also be useful.   These include Vitamins A,C, and E and are highest in fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts for the vitamin E. No single measure will give the maximum effect but rather the combination of healthy eating and  lifestyle habits.  To assist you, please contact a registered nutritionist or dietitian.

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