Many men battle with high cholesterol. It’s scary! High cholesterol is very common and quite serious. In fact, it is the biggest killer of Australian men. Having high cholesterol puts you at a much higher risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. For most men, high cholesterol begins in the early ’20s and gradually increases with age. Genetics can play a big role here, but so can diet and lifestyle choices.
Have you ever heard the expression: “genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger?” Well, that definitely applies here. You do not have to succumb to ‘bad genes’. You have the power to makes changes that can save your life. Change your lifestyle, focus on nutrition and enjoy fantastic results.
Let’s start by integrating the following nutrients into your weekly meal plan.
1. Green Vegetables for Phytochemicals
There is no doubt about it; green veggies are nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory and loaded with phytochemicals to fight free radical damage and slow down the ageing process. This keeps arteries flexible and healthy. Many dark, leafy green veggies like spinach and kale, contain very few calories but offer protection against heart attacks by helping artery walls stay clear of cholesterol build-up. While nearly all are a good choice, vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts are especially useful in upping your fibre intake and protecting your heart.
2. Nuts for Healthy Fats
All kinds of nuts provide a good source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also provide you with a decent amount of fibre. Almonds specifically supply antioxidants and bioflavonoids. These are plant-based compounds that improve artery health and reduce inflammation. Studies show that nuts can lower our ‘bad’ LDL levels, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. Nuts can help keep dangerous cholesterol plaque from forming and building up in the artery walls.
3. Flaxseed for Fibre
Flaxseeds are the richest source of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. They rank first in terms of providing hormone-balancing lignans. The soluble fibre content in flax helps to trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive tract before it is able to be absorbed. Bile is then excreted, forcing the body to make more, and, in turn, using up any excess cholesterol in the blood. This will then lower cholesterol levels overall. So, sprinkle these tiny seeds on everything! Salads, porridge or blend them up in smoothies.
4. Olive Oil for Fatty Acids
Olive Oil is another anti-inflammatory ingredient that’s full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that can help to lower LDL cholesterol. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make homemade salad dressings, add some to sauces or use as a flavour-boosting ingredient in stir-fries and marinades.
5. Avocados to Stabilise Blood Sugar Levels
Avocados are one of the world’s greatest sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. This is the type that can help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. Avocados also contain high levels of soluble fibre and stabilise blood sugar levels, in addition to supplying anti-inflammatory phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein. Besides making guacamole, add it to smoothies, salads or use it as an alternative to margarine.
6. Salmon for its Omega-3
As one of the world’s best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, salmon is also valuable because it’s linked to lower rates of heart disease, cognitive disorders, depression and many other conditions. Other sources of omega-3 include fatty fish like sardines, Mackerel and Herring. As some of the top foods that lower cholesterol, these fatty fish can also help raise good cholesterol levels while supporting a healthy weight and better brain function. Try and buy wild-caught fatty fish where possible to keep yourself safe from heavy metal exposure.
7. Green Tea for Overall Health
Green tea is considered the number one beverage for anti-ageing. Not only is it a rich source of antioxidants, but it also prevents LDL cholesterol levels from rising. Epidemiological studies suggest that drinking green tea can help reduce atherosclerosis and the risk of heart disease. It can also lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve bone density and brain function. This is a great coffee replacement.
8. Beans and Legumes to Support Circulation
Beans are known for packing in tons of fibre, which slows the rate and amount of cholesterol that is absorbed. They also contain antioxidants and certain beneficial trace minerals that support healthy circulation. Try black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and mung beans in soup, salads and of course, hummus!
9. Turmeric for Inflammation
Consider turmeric the ‘King of spices’ when it comes to fighting inflammation. It will help to lower cholesterol, prevent clots, fight viruses, kill free radicals, increase immune health, balance hormones - and so much more. Turmeric contains the active ingredient called curcumin, which has been studied in regard to protection against numerous inflammatory diseases including heart disease.
10. Garlic for the Immune System
Garlic is one of the most well-researched heart-healthy ingredients out there. The benefits of raw garlic have been shown to reverse disease because of its high levels of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-diabetic and immune-boosting properties. Garlic has been found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure and protect against infections. Try to use some on a daily basis if you can, whether in sauces, soups, roasted veggies or in marinades.
11. Sweet Potatoes for Complex Carbs
Sweet potatoes provide a good dose of filling, artery-sweeping fibre in addition to plenty of vitamins and antioxidants. They’re also low in calories, low on the Glycaemic Index (which means that they won’t spike your blood sugar) and high in potassium.
The Best Food for Men’s Health
Now off you go! Get your groceries and start planning. Eat these foods in abundance! Also, please remember to see your GP for regular blood tests so that you can monitor your progress. Supplements such as magnesium, fish oil, zinc and COQ10 are also amazing for the heart. Make sure you seek advice from a doctor, pharmacist or naturopath before experimenting on your own. Exercise regularly, minimise stress, drink loads of water, get plenty of sleep and keep saturated fats and refined sugar to an absolute minimum.
After all, food is medicine. If it’s poisoning you, then it’s not nourishing food and you should remove it. Begin here! Look after your temple by healing and nourishing your heart. The heart will become burdened and won’t function optimally if your cholesterol is high.