The word cholesterol immediately rings familiar to most of our ears, usually with concern that our levels are way too high, if not personally, then surely as a nation. And truly this is the case, at least here in New Zealand. Our average for cholesterol is 5.7mmol/L which is bordering on being too high. Ideally we personally should look at getting that down to 4 or 4.5.
But just to quote a figure on average cholesterol isn't the whole story. Cholesterol is essential for our being. It is produced mainly by the liver and is naturally found in the brain, nerves, liver, blood and bile. It is used by cells to build membranes, by sex hormones and in aiding digestion. It is a crystalline fatty, wax-like substance and comes in two forms, each form having its own level and reading. HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) is one form of cholesterol. This cholesterol we make ourselves and it is a 'good' cholesterol. It cleans the arteries and removes excess cholesterol from the blood and tissues. That is why it is called 'good'. LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) is the other form of cholesterol. We ingest this from our dietary habits. This form of cholesterol we don't need. The body cannot utilize it at all and it ends up forming plaque and lining the artery walls, bringing with it risk of atherosclerosis and a heart attack. The higher your HDLs the better and the lower your LDLs the better. This combination lessens the risk of heart problems.
Now, some people have no problem with their cholesterol levels. There is nature and nurture. Some naturally have lower cholesterol levels; some have to work at it constantly. There are some helpful tips that you can embrace to make a difference to your cholesterol levels.
If you are taking your food sources from fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables, you will not have a problem with the intake of cholesterol. They contain no cholesterol at all. Cholesterol comes with animal products. So an important place to start is to start eliminating all animal products out of your diet. As you do this, there are some other food sources that can help lower cholesterol levels. Take at least 8 glasses of water into your system daily. This will keep cholesterol-absorbing fibre flowing through the body.
Lecithin is outstanding for emulsifying fats and cholesterol so they can be utilized by the body or flushed out. Take 1-3 tablespoons on your cereal every day. Monounsaturated oils lower cholesterol faster than low-fat diets do, and they selectively lower the LDL type. Monounsaturated fats come in cold-pressed olive oil, nuts, avocado and fresh peanut oil. To touch on a couple of these points, in the nut family, walnuts are excellent to break down cholesterol. Avocado is one of the highest fat foods; yet it tends to lower cholesterol.
Last but not least in this summary, exercise also lowers bad cholesterol. Vigorous exercise raises HDL and lowers LDL levels. High cholesterol levels or not, exercise is beneficial for every one of us, especially as we approach the winter months when it is so tempting to shut the cold dark evenings out and become a couch-potato!!
~Based on Natural Remedies Encyclopedia, page 435, 436.
In 2008 Bangladesh’s army was ordered to march on potatoes rather than rice. In a country where rice is overwhelmingly the staple dish, it was no laughing matter when the daily army rations would include increased servings of potatoes.
But it is not just in Bangladesh that the humble spud is being turned to for help. Easy to grow, quick to mature, requiring little water and with yields two to four times greater than that of wheat or rice, the potato is being cultivated more in an effort to ensure food security, agronomists say.
Every potato is a power pack, brimming with goodness. “The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop," according to the UN world body. In theory, we could eat only potatoes, supplemented with occasional leafy greens, for chlorophyll, and the body would suffer no dietary deficiency.
The potato has great nutritional value. It is a source of complex carbohydrates which release their energy slowly and have just 5 per cent of the fat content of wheat. Potato protein is an ideal blend of essential amino acids. They have more protein than corn and nearly double the amount of calcium. They also contain iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin C, and were eaten by sailors in previous centuries as a guard against scurvy.
The vitamin content is at its peak at harvest time, and decreases during storage. Potatoes are best stored away from light (especially sunlight) to avoid greening. Do not store with onions which draw moisture from potatoes.
In 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space.
~References: Claire Ellicott, Independant.co.uk, 21 April 2008. God’s Farmacy, pages 24,25.
Recipe of the Month
Potato and Blue Pea Curry
1½ c blue peas, soaked
6 c raw potato, cubed
2 large carrots, cubed
1 small zucchini
2 lg onions, chopped
5 lg cloves garlic, crushed
1½-2 t fenugreek seeds
1½-2 t cumin seeds
1½-2 T cumin powder
1½-2 T coriander powder
1½ t turmeric
salt to taste
Heat 2 T oil. Add fenugreek and cumin seeds and cook 2 minutes on low heat. Do not burn. Add chopped onion, cook until soft, then add crushed garlic. Cook another 2 minutes. Add soaked peas and chopped vegetables. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Turn down heat to low. May be cooked without liquid, but watch for sticking, otherwise add enough water to cover the bottom. Stir occasionally until potato is cooked (about 20-30 mins). Serve with rice.
~Tried & True, page 88