What is the most important quality in a friend?
Ask about niacin
You’ve had your blood cholesterol measured and the result shows raised levels of LDL (lowdensity lipoprotein) – the so-called ‘bad’ – cholesterol. Your doctor prescribes statins, drugs to help your body to flush out the excess LDL. But your LDL level is only half the story. The amount of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol in your blood is just as important, if not more important, in predicting your risk of a heart attack. Talk to your doctor about adding a dose of the B vitamin niacin to your prescription. According to Dr Anthony Wierzbicki of St Thomas’ Hospital in London, niacin has been shown to be highly effective in boosting levels of HDL cholesterol, which plays a crucial role in sweeping the harmful LDL kind out of your system. Niacin can be taken on its own or alongside statins. Indeed, a European Consensus Panel recently recommended that niacin should be combined with statins as standard treatment in some high-risk patients, such as those with diabetes. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and niacin can have side effects. The most bothersome of these are hot flushes. Your doctor can give you tips for dealing with this, such as taking aspirin. If you use one of the new slow-release formulas and stick with it, the red face will probably go away after a few weeks.
Although it may seem to contradict all the nutritional advice you were ever given, it appears that dark chocolate is actually good for you. It is full of essential, health-giving ingredients, such as monounsaturated fat, fibre, anti-oxidants and magnesium, and some studies have shown that it can help to regulate your blood pressure, too. Scientists who gave 100 g of dark chocolate to people with raised blood pressure every day for two weeks found that their blood pressure dropped. And according to researchers at Ninewells Hospital in Scotland, chocolate lowers the risk of ‘platelet aggregation’, which can result in the formation of blood clots that are potentially life-threatening. But only dark chocolate offers these benefits – white and milk chocolate only serve to pile on unnecessary kilojoules, unfortunately, so choose dark. Scientific evidence suggests that this is due to compounds called flavonoids that are concentrated in the high cocoa content of dark chocolate.
Substitute avocado for butter
Dairy farmers won’t be delighted with this tip, but avocados are a tasty and satisfying substitute for butter and cream, both of which are crammed with the major cause of heart and circulation problems – saturated fat. When you mash them, avocados take on the same creamy texture as butter. As well as being a delicious spread, they can be used to enrich soups and sauces or make mashed potatoes creamier. Avocados are one of the only two fruits (along with olives) that are high in fat – but it’s the heart-healthy, monounsaturated kind.
Check your blood pressure
When was the last time your doctor took your blood pressure? Although it is well known as a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension) often remains undetected and untreated. You can help to control your blood pressure by changing your diet and lifestyle. So next time you see your GP for any reason, ask for a blood pressure check. It’s quick and painless – and it could mean that you avoid a life-threatening stroke or heart attack.
Hold back on statins
So your GP has told you that you have raised cholesterol. Chances are you’ll be wondering whether you need a statin – a popularly prescribed cholesterol lowering drug. Like all medications, they carry a risk of side effects, some of which are serious. Furthermore, they many not be as effective for women as they are for men. Fortunately, drugs aren’t the first line of treatment for high cholesterol. A few simple changes in your general lifestyle, such as cutting down on the amount of saturated fat you consume in your diet, can be effective. Improving your diet can lower LDL (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels, but you can get even more value for time spent on lifestyle changes by adding exercise to your new routine. Exercise is known to increase HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) levels.
|M M Yasin on 15 July 2012 ,12:33 |
Just beautiful . It can not be any better
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