Saturday, January 20, 2018
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The good, the bad and the banting

Feed on the right foods to lower cholesterol...easier said than done!
There is so much conflicting information out there on the correct type of diet to assist with lowering your cholesterol levels and also your heart disease risk.   So which diet should you follow?
Recent studies have shown that very low carbohydrate (carb) diets can result in reduced waist circumference, and a reduction in LDL cholesterol to name but a few. However low cholesterol/low fat diet has too also produced similar results listed above.     Low carb diets are only recommended for short term use as the long term health outcomes are not known yet and too this way of eating is not very sustainable from a social and cost point of view. The fact of the matter is, as research continues and new discoveries are made, nutritional guidelines will change over time. Low carb diets may do a complete 180 or not, but we won't know until the long term effects are noted.

Why dabble with your health by focusing on the header of these diets namely low carb/high fat diets or low fat/cholesterol diets. These headers exclaim extremism on either side.   What if, you included all the elements that the headers dictate in the correct quantities as well as all the other elements of a healthy diet/lifestyle?

The Mediterranean (Med) diet has proven to be very beneficial for heart health; it is rich in phytonutrient containing foods such as vegetables, legumes, healthy fats and fruits as well as includes proteins and whole-grains. There isn't a food group that has been limited within the Med Diet except for processed foods/unnatural foods/beverages.

An active lifestyle as well as drinking lots of clean safe water; controlling alcohol intake and stopping smoking in conjunction with following the principles of a Med diet can improve your overall heart health and reduce your cholesterol.
Here a few cholesterol lowering tips

Ensure a 'High Five' a Day...Half of your midday and evening meals and snacks need to include multi coloured veg [more focus on non-starchy veg]. Examples: salads; raw chopped veg; roasted/ steamed/ stir fried veg. Enjoy whole fruit daily, as a snack or part of your breakfast. Have more vegetables than fruit daily.

What-a-lot-i-got in legumes...chickpeas, lentils, beans and peas are packed full of nutrients as well as are high in protein and fibre rich carb. Throw into salads, stews, soups, side dishes or have in the form of hummus/ bean dips. If you don't tolerate legumes well then include more spilt peas/split lentils and legume spreads which are not so harsh on the tummy.

Oil yourself healthy...most of your total fat intake should come from mono- unsaturated (MUFA)fats (olive oil, olives, avocado pears, almonds, peanuts etc...); some from polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) - omega 6 (veg oils, sunflower /pumpkin seeds, pecan/walnuts etc...) and omega 3 (flaxseeds, chia seeds, fish oils) and some from saturated fats (coconut oil, coconut, butter etc...). Include more MUFA's PUFA's than saturated fats. Avoid the un-natural fats (trans- & hydrogenated fats) where possible.

Be a lean-machine...include a source of protein at every meal (poultry/fish/red meat) but keep it trimmed, eat more of the lean components where possible). Include eggs a few days a week and not daily (keep to 1-2 at a time) and organ meats or shellfish to be had sparingly.   Don't have dairy in excess, keep this to a low-moderate intake and include more natural sources of dairy.

Control Carb Intake...starchy veg (sweet-potato/potatoes/ corn/butternut) as well as all other whole grains/cereals (oats; barley; psyllium husk; brown rice etc...) must be included but in controlled recommended quantities.   Sugar (honey/ granulated) can be eliminated but can also be included in small amounts when done correctly.

By Kerry Hillermann RD(SA)
Kerry Hillermann RD(SA)
Consulting Dietitian
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