Thursday, November 15, 2012

Garlic Bread Recipie

Garlic is possibly a super food when it comes to lowering cholesterol. I'm not keen on swallowing a whole clove every day like my doctor ordered. As I was making pasta yesterday (wheat pasta of course), I decided to try garlic bread. In the past I've just bought the baguettes that they sell in the supermarket. They are very large and always have far too much butter in them.

So here is how I do it:

Simply grate or crush some garlic. I didn't have a crusher but grating did the job just fine. Then mix with your low fat margarine of choice. I'm using a low fat olive oil based spread, but there are spreads with cholesterol lowering ingredients which may be better.

Spread the mixture over your chosen bread, just like you would normally spread butter. I have been using a small French wheat loaf called a "batard". This is excellent toasted thinly.

The key is to grill it long enough that the garlic cooks a little. Otherwise it can taste raw (bitter). So it is essential that the garlic is in tiny pieces- chopping it won't work. Avoid any old garlic that has the green stem forming inside, as that contributes to the bitterness.

I'll add a photo next time I make it. This is such an easy thing to do and feels so much healthier than the store bough garlic breads.

I've also been using the toasted "batard" loaf for spreading salmon mixed with low fat mayo, dill and a squeeze of lemon. Then topped with thinly sliced cucumber. This makes a perfect snack and Salmon is great for us who want to lower our cholesterol, as it is full of the "good fat" omega 3.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Does Garlic Lower Cholesterol

Does garlic lower cholesterol
When my doctor told me I need to lower my cholesterol, one of the things she suggested was to swallow a raw clove of garlic everyday. I have been doing this for the past couple of weeks and have now decided to check online to see whether garlic really does lower cholesterol.

By the way she told me to eat a raw clove by swallowing it whole. It is actually not hard with a big gulp of water, but it doesn't go down too well every time. If you are going to do this, my advice is to start with a small piece at first. Some people have trouble swallowing tablets so a clove of garlic is obviously much larger. I have refrained from cutting cloves in half as that would create sharp edges, which might be more likely to get stuck in the throat.

Anyway onto the question at hand, does garlic lower cholesterol?
A study on whether garlic lowers cholesterol, reported by the BBC found that it does not help. Further searching brought me to websites which said it did work and others which said it may work. I get the feeling that there is no real proof that it works. This all means that garlic is not a magical solution.

Will I continue to take a clove everyday?
Yes! The first reason is that my doctor told me to take it and I trust her more than the internet. The second reason is that it is cheap and relatively easy to take. The most important reason is that garlic has many other health benefits. It may help lower my cholesterol, but it will also provide other things:

Some garlic health benefits

  • It is a natural antibiotic which may help kill bacteria in the body.
  • Antioxidant properties which I see as cleaning out the body from within.
  • It could possibly help lower high blood pressure and ward off certain forms of cancer.
  • There are lots of other mentions on Wikipedia too, such as it can help absorption of thiamin which sounds good for the liver.
One other benefit I stumbled across recently is that garlic may help with toothache pain. I was frantically searching for something to help me at the time and garlic came up as the number one home remedy. To be honest I can't say I noticed it work (I was taking anti inflammatory pills too), but I think there are different causes of toothache, so it is worth a try if you are desperate. 

You crush the clove under a wide knife, this releases the juices. Then you wrap the clove over the affected tooth and gum. You use the tongue to keep it in place, it will sting for a while, then that subsides. Keep it there for 10 minutes or so, then spit it out or swallow it. Don't wash the mouth out as you want the garlic juices to stay there. Many people reported it as a wonder cure which can last many hours.

The one major side effect taking garlic this way is that your breath will stink. I was almost too ashamed to leave the apartment after having the garlic in my mouth. Certainly take some mints or gum with you as it is a very strong smell apparently (and just keep your mouth tightly closed in an elevator lol). I have not had any complaints about bad breath when swallowing whole cloves yet.

I suspect garlic will have some positive effect on cholesterol. I am currently swallowing a clove a day and including it in meals when I can. This is easily done and you can buy it in jars in powder form, or dried small pieces. Garlic rice is actually a really tasty alternative to plain rice. It is easy to add some extra to pasta dishes and most Asian dishes. I''m also eating it often in my healthy snack food which is a mix of unsalted nuts which contains dried slices of garlic. It is almost tasteless in this form.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oats and Soy Milk for Breakfast

So far on my hunt for the best food for cholesterol it seems that an ideal breakfast is porridge or oats with soy milk. I usually use a dessert spoon of sugar so I have halved that. The taste is not as nice as with milk. It lacks the same creamy taste. But it is OK and when you know you are eating something very good for you, it is OK to put up with only an average taste.

Soy Milk and Cholesterol

We want to reduce our fat and so the full fat milk I was previously consuming is off the menu. It contains saturated fats. Milk does contain protein but that has no effect on cholesterol so I will get that from elsewhere (perhaps nuts).

"LDL-cholesterol was modestly reduced at the end of the soy milk phases 
compared to the dairy milk phase" Stanford University

The quote above is taken from a study on the effects of soy milk on cholesterol. Reading that was enough to get me to switch. Another quick search online brought up more pages stating that soy milk can help to lower cholesterol. I bought the cheapest option in the supermarket (which was cheaper than my standard milk) and the Stanford study stated that either type of soy milk will help the same. So it seems that there is no need to choose anything special. Although the Washington Post has an article on a product which advertised a 7% cholesterol reduction, so it is worth keeping an eye out for any products which have a cholesterol label on it. 

Oats and Cholesterol

I love the occasional bowl of oats or porridge in the morning. It is warming and seems to fill me up more than standard cereal. Apparently it lowers low density lipoprotein which is a good thing. Oats are packed with fiber which reduces absorption of cholesterol. It seems that a standard bowl of oats will provide around half of the daily soluble fibre needed to reduce LDL cholesterol. I will be eating other healthy foods like fruit which should hopefully provide the rest.

"Daily consumption of a bowl of oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol, 
because of its soluble fibre content" Wikipedia

For now it seems like oats with soy milk is the best breakfast to help lower cholesterol. I will try adding pieces of fruit next time which should make it even healthier. In the past I have added blueberries to my bowl of oats which I wasn't keen on. I did used to enjoy banana though, so will try that soon. This is likely to help with the taste as I will be using less sugar too.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome to my blog about lowering my cholesterol

Yesterday I got the test results from my doctor. She said I have a mildly fatty liver due to high cholesterol. I am a little overweight so this wasn't a major surprise to me. This blog is going to act as my journal.

The hope is that by researching and writing about foods that help lower my cholesterol, it will help me discover the best options. I have used this blogging for personal success method before and it really works. It keeps me motivated and focused. At the same time perhaps this blog will help others out in future.

Background to my diet:

I do not eat any old food but I know I could certainly eat healthier. I usually have 4 meals a day as I like to sneak brunch in there too. My reasoning behind this was that it is better to eat more smaller meals than 3 large ones. Also I hate going hungry.

A typical day for me starts with a bowl of cereal. I have oats (or porridge as we call it in the UK) approximately once every 2 weeks. My first bit of research into foods that can help to lower your cholesterol pulled up oats. So that was the obvious choice today. I will do a full post on oats if it really is an ideal breakfast option.

For brunch I will often have something fried (hotdog, bacon, sausage) with egg and toast or grilled hash browns. Obviously this one has to change. I love eggs for brunch so perhaps this will become boiled, microwaved or poached eggs. My guess is that wheat bread will be fine (which I usually have anyway) and I will find a healthy spread. One of the other things I have noticed so far is that there are certain spreads which have special cholesterol lowering ingredients in them. I love eating bread so this will probably be a future blog post too.

For lunch and dinner it varies. From home cooked pasta or Indian curry, to a weekly MacDonalds or other fast food. I eat rice most days but this is often with a microwaved dish. I will be investigating the fat content of these dishes and cutting any bad ones out. I know for a fact that my Indian Curries have plenty of fat in them (although they contain potentially positive spices like turmeric) and of course MacDonalds is now off the menu. Finding healthy recipes for lunch and dinner should be the biggest problem. I do enjoy cooking so plan on reseraching this well to discover tasty options. Buying a steamer could be on the cards.

I'm not too big on snacks but I will be cutting out the occasional chocolate bars and bags of crisps (chips). Recently I have been going through a large bag of pistachio nuts and I believe they could contain "good fat". I am not sure what good fat and bad fat is, so that will certainly be a post on this site soon. I did read that fat in nuts and oily fish can actually help lower my cholesterol levels so this certainly requires further research. If I need a snack from now on it will probably be a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts.

As a side note I am cutting out alcohol too. I was a regular drinker which certainly would of contributed to my belly and liver problem. My hope is that I can improve my diet enough to get my liver in perfect working order, so that I can at some point resume drinking in moderate amounts.

I am not a fan of exercise. There is a swimming pool and gym in my building but I never go. I am taking up rock climbing which is extremely demanding. My hope is that the need for extra strength will urge me to visit the pool and gym more often. Even if it doesn't I think that rock climbing 3 times a week will certainly help me.

I am a heavy smoker too, one pack of 20 per day. I got a chest x-ray out of curiosity recently which came back all clear. Obviously it would be great to quit this too, but I am unsure if this can help with cholesterol. Unless I see evidence that it can help to quit then I will probably put this on the back burner for now.

My starting weight as of today is 81kg = 178 pounds = 12.75 stones.