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Controlling Cholesterol

Many people suffer from high cholesterol and are told to go on statins to control it. Before you do, consider the following nutritional choices that can help you keep your triglycerides and LDL down, and HDL up.

What are LDL and HDL?

LDL is 'low denisty lipoprotein' is commonly known as 'bad cholesterol' and increases the risk of disease. This cholesterol has a higher probability of sticking to blood vessel walls, causing plaques (athlersclerosis) and eventually leading to heart disease or stroke.

HDL is 'high density lipoprotein', commonly known as 'good cholesterol', lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Looking at your total cholesterol levels doesn't tell the whole story, so make sure to look at LDL and HDL, which are now routinely reported in a cholesterol test.

How can Nutrition change your cholesterol status?

There are some general guidelines to follow when trying to lower cholesterol levels. At Galway Nutrition, we like to focus on what you CAN eat, but if your cholesterol levels and in particular your LDL levels are high, its important to reduce the negative influences, and increase the positive ones. There are some specifically beneficial food listed at the end - include these as much as possible in your diet.

Reduce/Remove from diet Replace with
high fat red meats, sausage, rashers fish, poultry
high fat dairy low/non fat dairy
saturated fats (butter, lard) olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil
ice cream, biscuits, pie, cake fruit
refined cereal, bread, pastry brown rice, wholewheat pasta/bread
fried foods, crisps vegetables, fresh salad
salt, salty foods low sodium, herbamare
coffee, sodas herbal tea, fresh veg juices

Garlic - Garlic has been shown in studies to lower LDL, lower triglycerides, and raise HDL.

Beetroot - this red root vegetables contains a compound called betaine. This compound helps the liver detox, protects the bowel from cancer, and helps to lower triglyceride levels, LDL levels, and blood pressure. Although grocery stores don't often sell it fresh, it does grow in Ireland and local markets are a great source for fresh beetroot. The keep for a long time in the fridge. Not sure how to use it? Here are 2 recipes to get you started...

Barley flakes in porridge - this grain is quite acidic, so dry toast it in a pan first, then add water and oats and cook porridge as normal. Its helps the bowel remove toxins, and helps the liver get rid of excess fats in the blood.

Lifestyle Recommendations

Exercise regularly
Quit smoking
Reduce/eliminate coffee

What if diet isn't enough?

Sometimes dietary changes aren't enough. High cholesterol can be caused by diet and lifestyle issues, but also genetics and hypothyroidisn (low thyroid function).

If you have made dietary changes for at least 2 months, and there has been very little change in your cholesterol levels, then consider the following:

Thyroid function

Low thyroid function has an affect on the bodies ability to deal with cholesterol in the blood. If you have any of the following symptoms - fatigue, low energy, weight gain, depression, dry skin, headaches, recurrent infection, unusually sensitive to cold - have your GP do a thyroid function test.


Niacin (B3) - Niacin has been proven to lower cholesterol levels as effectively as statins, without the side effects. The most common side effect of Niacin is skin / facial flushing within 30 minutes of taking a dose - however, taking the "Inositol hexaniacinate" resolves this.
**Note - do not use 'sustained release niacin' and do not take niacin if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, have liver disease or elevated liver enzymes. There are other possibilities if this is the case, please consult a nutritional therapist.
Recommended dose: 500mg 3 times daily
A consultation is highly recommended.

Pantethine(B5) - B5 also has a role in dealing with fats in the body, and is a good alternative if Niacin is not appropriate.

Vitamin C - higher levels of vitamin C in the blood have been shown to have a direct influence on HDL levels (increasing the good cholesterol) and risk for heart attack (decreasing the chances).

Everyone is an individual. If you aren't getting the results you want from nutritional changes, its time for a personal consultation. Click here to contact us.