Herbalists and naturopaths have long believed in the healing miracle-like powers of garlic, and now scientists have added credence to their claims. Scientific studies have shown that compounds in garlic are good for the heart; they can lower blood pressure and suppress cholesterol production in the liver, reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and raise levels of the beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood. Garlic is now processed into a drug for lowering blood cholesterol although the recommended daily dose of fresh garlic is about 4g, equivalent to one or two small cloves. For those who dislike the pungent odour, dried garlic preparations also have a slight effect in reducing cholesterol levels, but fresh garlic is more effective.
Like olive oil, avocados have a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids which are known to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels without lowering good HDL cholesterol. This is as opposed to polyunsaturated fatty acids which have a more powerful lowering effect on cholesterol levels but lower both LDL and HDL levels. Avocados are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamins E and C, which can prevent the furring up of arteries, as well as potassium, which helps to control blood pressure, both of which are crucial to maintaining a healthy heart. Avocados make a great snack between meals as they do not interfere with blood sugar levels, but weight watchers beware, avocados are high in calories at 400 kcal each.
Edamame are boiled green soyabean still in their pods, they make a delicious pre-dinner snack or a versatile vegetable addition to salads or stir-frys. It is the soya protein that has the cholesterol lowering ability, so other soya products such as tofu, tempeh, soya milk and soya nuts are all beneficial. It has been recommended that eating at least 25g of soya protein daily as part of a balanced low fat diet can help reduce blood cholesterol. However, most people would struggle to eat this much soya every day without some radical changes to their usual diet. It may be better to remember to include soya products some of the time along with other cholesterol lowering foods rather than trying to achieve this difficult target.
The cholesterol lowering spreads such as Benecol and Flora Pro active contain substances derived from plants known as stanol or sterol esters. These clever compounds works with the body to significantly reduce bad LDL cholesterol by partially blocking its entry to the bloodstream. As well as obtaining cholesterol from the food we eat, the body naturally produces cholesterol. Both these sources of cholesterol enter the bloodstream, and can be blocked by the stanol or sterol esters. Normally 50% of cholesterol is absorbed into the bloodstream, however, the esters reduce this amount to about 30% and the rest simply passes out of the body. Approximately 2-3g of esters are needed to have an effect which equates to 2-3 servings from the products range per day.
Red wine is thought to be the answer to the French paradox; that despite high intakes of fat in the French diet, heart disease rates are low in France because of the custom for drinking a small glass of red wine every day with meals. While there is good evidence that compounds in red wine can prevent excess cholesterol from damaging arteries in the heart, health benefits are lost if you regularly exceed the recommended 2-3 units per day by polishing off half a bottle of wine with your meal each night. Avoid the strong 14% alcohol wines and choose a light red with a lower percentage and remember one unit equals one small glass (approximately 125 ml).
Herring in oatmeal
Oily fish such as herrings are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels, oats contain soluble fibre which are also known to be particularly effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
1) 4 herring fillets
2) Flour for dusting
3) Black pepper
4) Half tsp. mustard powder
5) 115g porridge oats
6) 1 egg, beaten
7) 2 tsp. vegetable oil
Season the flour with the pepper and dust each fillet. Mix the mustard powder with the oats. Dip each fillet in the beaten egg and coat in oats. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side.