Positive steps towards lowering cholesterol

Those of you who are regulars of this blog will remember I was diagnosed with Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) towards the start of last year. If you haven’t heard of this it is an inherited condition which leads to exceptionally high cholesterol levels, which are often double and sometimes four times those of the general population.
While high cholesterol levels are closely related to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, FH isn’t related to these at all but is passed from generation to generation by a faulty or altered gene.
Unfortunately the effects of having high/raised cholesterol levels from both diet or FH are the same, and those of us with FH can lead to early heart disease if left untreated.
I am currently taking high doses of a medicine called Statin which is used to lower the LDL cholesterol levels.  LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “Bad cholesterol” and the Statin helps to reduce the production of it in the liver.  I am taking one tablet a night for the foreseeable future and most likely for life, this has been reduced from 2 tablets as my levels have significantly lowered already.
As well as taking the tablets I am doing my best to keep on track with non-medical methods of lowering cholesterol, and these are things which we can all be doing to keep our cholesterol levels lowered:
Diet (No I don’t mean a diet to lose weight I mean what you eat):
Eating foods which are high in saturated fats increase cholesterol levels but research shows that cutting down on these fats and replacing with everyday foods which contain more unsaturated fats can help to lower these levels.
Photo credit and food advice credit: Heartuk.org.uk
Foods which should be limited are:
  • Butter
  • Hard Margarines
  • Fatty meat and meats such as sausage
  • Full fat cheese, milk, cream and yogurt
  • coconut oils and coconut cream
Foods which can naturally help to lower cholesterol are:
  • Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts (always unsalted)
  • Tofu
  • Soya mince/chunks
  • Soya alternative to yoghurt
  • Soya alternative to milk
  • Unsalted soya nuts (also called roasted edamame beans)
  • Vegetables rich in soluble fibre such as okra, aubergine, citrus fruits, turnip, sweet potato and mango
  • Red lentils, green lentils
  • Adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, edamame beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas, white beans
  • Baked beans
  • Pearl barley
  • Oatcakes
  • Bread made with 50% oat flour or oat bran
  • Oat breakfast cereals
  • Oatbran
  • Porridge
To help lower my cholesterol levels through my diet choices I started to make healthy switches to my everyday food choices, little changes over a period of time which have now become the norm and I no longer think of as hard but have integrated into my everyday, and some of which the children have picked up upon and are actually happy to eat – which considering I have an inherited condition it does mean the children may need to monitor their LDL levels as they grow up.
I have switched over to soya milk which I have in my coffee and on my cereals, I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables than I ever have done and salads are my favourite lunch of choice. 
I have a stash of almonds to hand to reach for instead of the normal chocolate bar and I try to buy 50/50 bread and use butter whenever possible.
I have also started to eat more fish, something I never liked before and to cut back on the amount of red meat I eat, I use less sauces in my cooking and when I do have curry’s and foods with sauces I have less of the sauce then I would have previously done.
I’ve also introduced breakfasts for myself, something I usually don’t bother with.  I have been trying out the new CHEERIOS Oat Crisp®
The new CHEERIOS Oat Crisp® is a healthy breakfast made from crunchy flakes of oat flakes mixed with the light crispy traditional O’s. Oat Crisp®  is a natural source of beta-glucan which has been proven to lower chlorestrol and they are also high in fibre and low in saturated fat.
They are actually very tasty and filling too, a medium sized bowl in the morning topped with soya milk has been keeping me going until lunchtime before I begin to feel hungry, this means I am reaching for less snacks and starting my day on a very good footing.
I absolutely love the cinnamon version of these, while the plain ones are edible the cinnamon give them a very tasty edge.  I have been adding strawberries and raspberries to the plain ones to give them more flavour.
The cholesterol charity Heart UK have also given these cereals their seal of approval and by looking for the green banner on the top of the box you know you are starting your day the right way with at least 8g of whole grain per serving.
weight loss:
I also need to lose a little weight, I want to lose another stone – this will also have a positive effect on my cholesterol levels.
Rest and relaxation:
Stress can have a negative effect on cholesterol levels so I have started to ensure I have a couple of night free a week and to scale back on my work load.  If I am tired I will go to bed instead of sitting up all night trying unsuccessfully to work
Laughter and exercise:
They say laughter is the best medicine and it really is true as it can help to increase the HDL levels and any exercise which increases the heart rate and gets the blood flowing faster and harder is very good for your heart, cardio exercise is one of the best for increasing your heart rate and pumping the blood faster.
Do you have any tips for lowering cholesterol levels?
“This is a collaborative post”

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