Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. Check www.whelehans.ie for more information. If you have any health questions e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, the first method of treatment will usually involve making some changes to your diet (adopting a low fat diet), and ensuring that you take plenty of regular exercise. After a few months, if your cholesterol level has not dropped, your GP will usually advise cholesterol lowering medication available on prescription. The problem with cholesterol is that so much of it is down to our genes. It is reckoned that 60% of cholesterol is due to your genes (meaning that it runs in families). This means that in some cases, eating healthily, maintaining an ideal weight and exercising regularly may not get it down sufficiently if you have a strong genetic link in your family.
DietChanging to a diet low in saturated fats can reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol. A healthy diet includes foods from all of the different food groups including carbohydrates (cereals, wholegrain bread, potato, rice, pasta), proteins (for example, from lean meat, such as chicken and oily fish, like mackerel or sardines), and fats (varieties that are unsaturated, such as low fat mono- or poly-unsaturated spreads, and vegetable or sunflower oil). You should also eat at least five portions of a variety of different fruit and vegetables daily. Aim to reduce saturated fat (contained in lard, butter, hard margarine, cheese, whole milk and anything that contains these ingredients, such as cakes, chocolate, biscuits, pies and pastries)
Good fatsIncluding a small amount of unsaturated fats in your diet can be a healthy choice, as this type of fat can actually reduce cholesterol levels. Current thinking is that the traditional Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on raw olive oil in many foods, and low animal-fat content, is effective in ensuring a healthy heart. Foods high in unsaturated fats include:
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil
- Vegetable oils
Losing weight is an important first step in helping you lower cholesterol. The best way to lose weight is to reduce your calorie intake and increase exercise. There is no quick fix to weight loss; it will take time, perseverance and hard work. However the benefits to your physical and mental health are outstanding.
Whelehans Nutrition ServiceWhelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.
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