Curbing Cholesterol Helps More Than Your Heart

March 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

Keeping cholesterol levels low is something that most doctors are very hot on – mine certainly is – and despite my recent piece on chocolate helping with cholesterol he remains unconvinced. However I have found a new product to help lower cholesterol and that it seems will also help the body’s immune system fight viral infections, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

They have shown a direct link between the workings of the immune system and cholesterol levels and as high cholesterol is linked to heart disease, which is the most common cause of death in the UK, this is an important connection. What they have discovered is that when the body succumbs to a viral infection a hormone in the immune system sends signals to blood cells that causes cholesterol levels to be lowered.

Cholesterol produced by our cells is needed for viruses and certain bacteria to grow and so it is logical that limiting our body’s production of cholesterol would therefore curb the opportunity for viruses to thrive. According to Professor Peter Ghazal who led the research: “Drugs currently exist to lower cholesterol levels, and drugs such as antibiotics are used to fight infections by targeting the bug directly. The next step would be to see if such drugs would also work to help bolster our immune systems.”

How to help yourself reduce cholesterol:
The researchers hope to find new ways to manipulate the body’s immune system by targeting cholesterol metabolism. This could involve mimicking immune signals sent to lower the production of cholesterol.

In the meantime, you could do much to help yourself naturally lower your cholesterol levels, and avoid having to take drugs at all for the condition – particularly the use of antibiotic or statin drugs can be avoided by adopting some natural strategies.

High cholesterol levels usually start with the diet so opting for a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish is an excellent place to start. Add in a daily glass of red wine and a brisk walk and then look at some healthy additions such as reduction in saturated fats by switching to skimmed rather than full fat milk, but please stick with butter but in reduced quantities as margarines are unhealthy for many other reasons.

A new supplement specifically aimed at reducing cholesterol has been tried by one of my ‘guinea pig’ volunteers and seems to have done the trick in bringing down his levels. Works with Water Nutraceuticals has produced help:cholesterol which is a fairly self explanatory name. It contains only natural ingredients including barley beta glucan which has been proven to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels after a minimum period of six weeks.

Clinical research has shown that taking 3 to 8g of barley beta glucan a day, the key ingredient in help: cholesterol, reduces the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) by an average of 10-14%. These results have been confirmed by the EFSA (European Food Standards Agency) in 2009 after analysis of the clinical research into the cholesterol-lowering benefits of beta glucan.

Beta glucan is the soluble fibre naturally found in the cell wall of cereal grains and the easiest and most effective solution to ensure you get your necessary daily intake of barley beta glucan is to take a supplement such as help:cholesterol twice a day. You mix a sachet with water or juice and the only drawback my tester mentioned is that you have to drink it immediately you have put it in water and stirred vigorously as its textures changes when it hits the liquid. You should find it in health stores and Boots, but in case of difficulty visit the website at

5 point plan for reducing cholesterol

January 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health


Naturally, you didn’t overindulge at Christmas at that New Year’s Party, but in case you know anyone who does here is a simple 5 point plan to tackle cholesterol for 2010.

1. Reduce saturated fat. I know, you know all about this, but it may be time to start practicing it rather than theorising. Just avoid too much red meat, butter and high fat cheeses and substitute healthy low fat options – not the ones containing chemicals, but the really natural ones like more white meat and fish and fewer slabs of brie and stilton and switching to cottage or edam cheese – at least for a while. Substitute whole soy protein for animal protein, and use low- or non-fat dairy products.

2. Avoid trans-fat. Read the labels and beware of the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” on the label. Most often found in snacks such as crisps – which you were cutting down on anyway, weren’t you? Look for baked rather than fried crisps if you really can’t give them up.

3. Go for garlic because it not only will help lower cholesterol levels, but it will boost your immune system as well.

4. Switch to green or white tea as they both contain antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing. Without milk or sugar please, though a little honey might help if you find green tea too bitter.

5. Fill up on soluble fibre as it has a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect, and is found in the kinds of foods that naturally fill you up and will help you avoid unhealthy snacks. Fill up on beans and lentils, apples, citrus fruits, oats, barley, peas, carrots and freshly ground flaxseed.

Cholesterol screening for two year olds in the USA

April 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies


Often in health matters we follow the USA, but this is one case where I sincerely hope we don’t. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending cholesterol screening for children as young as two if there are weight issues or a family history of heart attacks or high cholesterol.

That might sound like a good health preventive, except that the response if high cholesterol is found is to recommend statin drugs, not dietary changes. Statins work by blocking the action of a certain enzyme in the liver which is needed to make cholesterol. Proponents say there is growing evidence that the first signs of heart disease show up in childhood – which is true – but their claim that cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, may be their best hope of lowering their risk of early heart attack is much more controversial.

Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the AAP nutrition committee, has said that “The risk of giving statins at a lower age is less than the benefit you’re going to get out of it”. A statement that is seriously undermined when he went on to say that there is not “a whole lot” of data on pediatric use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. So how on earth can he recommend it foThe use of statins in adults is currently under debate, so why on earth promote a drug that has been shown to actually cause heart problems in healthy subjects? Last year, US researchers at the University of Illinois examined the effects of the statin drug Lipitor on subjects with no history of heart problems. After taking the drug for three to six months, some subjects showed deterioration in at least one marker for heart function, and a smaller number were found to have deterioration in three different heart function markers. Natural Alternatives|:

Statins have been heavily promoted to reduce cholesterol, but there are plenty of healthy alternatives instead. CoQ10, artichoke leaf, red yeast rice and sugar cane are all being used to reduce cholesterol and if you have a history of heart disease in your family, or are concerned about your cholesterol levels – or those of your children – then these are some other things you can try:

* Follow a low-glycaemic diet (low processed carbohydrates), which lowers cholesterol

* Eat foods containing high levels of beta-sitosterol, found in most plants, especially soybeans, as they can reduce cholesterol by at least 10 per cent

* Take omega-3 fatty-acid supplements, preferably with vitamin B6

* Eat a high-fibre diet based on vegetables, fruits and nuts and oat bran, apple pectin and psyllium are especially helpful

* Try blue-green algae supplements; they contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids which may reduce cholesterol

* Garlic lowers cholesterol so cook frequently with it

The amazing health benefits of coconut oil


Fresh coconut milk is great health drink, but did you know that pure coconut oil has an amazing range of benefits if you add just 3 tablespoons of it to your daily diet?

The countries where consumption of coconut products is highest have very little heart disease compared to the west. India, Sri Lanka and the Phillipines for instance have only 2 deaths per thousand for heart disease as against the USA where it accounts for nearly half of all deaths. The ‘western’ complaints of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are far less common in these countries and it seems that their consumption of coconut oil is why.

The recommendation is that we don’t take in more than 10 percent of our daily intake from saturated fats, but in these countries they are taking in a whopping 50 percent of their calories from saturated fat from coconut products. You would expect therefore that they would be seriously at risk and yet they show no evidence of the most common heart diseases in the population.

When the study put these people on a western diet, they began to develop heart disease within days to weeks, but when they went back to their normal coconut-based diet, the diseases disappeared. So adding coconut oil to your diet is a good thing, but it has to be the right kind. Avoid hydrogenated or refined oil and only go for pure, unrefined, organic, coconut oil as that is what research has shown is most effective. In fact avoid hydrogenated fats and oils of any kinds as they do encourage high cholesterol.

This latest research using pure coconut oil found that people on the study who were given it were healthier at the end of the study than those who consumed the refined and hydrogenated coconut and/or vegetable oils or a low fat diet. In some US hospitals it is even being added to adult nutrition formulas for tube feeding because it is so nutritious. It helps reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar and improve energy. You can substitute pure coconut oil for any cooking or baking purpose, even frying, and spread it on your toast instead of butter.

Three natural ways to reduce cholesterol

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


With statin drugs continuing to get a bad press as the best cholesterol lowering solution, I thought it might help to remind you of the alternatives. First of all cholesterol is not evil, you need it for many bodily functions, and you don’t have to resort to drugs to keep your levels in balance.

A problem with the drugs, apart from side effects from eye problems and muscle pain to heart arrhythmias and liver disorders, is that new research by an Iowa State University scientist now suggests statins also could be affecting our memory and cognitive ability because they may be blocking the brain from making cholesterol which is vital for optimum brain function. Without adequate cholesterol from the brain, the release of neurotransmitters is affected and they are key for our memory functions.

So if you need to reduce cholesterol, try these three natural ways to do it:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids because they raise HDL (the good) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad) levels. Use Bertie Wooster’s favourite food at least twice a week – that means oily fish like salmon and herring, and walnuts, almonds, and flaxseed oil.

2. Oat Bran & Brown Rice Bran because they both contain very high levels of soluble fibre which has the double whammy of binding fats and absorbing cholesterol.

3. Blueberries, Garlic, & Apples are all good, but not at the same time – if you have a recipe that combines them, please keep it to yourself. Garlic and Blueberries lower cholesterol levels, and your blood pressure while the apples contain fibre that will reduce the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.