From the journal

Balance your Booze this Christmas

As Christmas is rolling around we can’t ignore the fact that the festive season is getting into full swing. Naturally this means more mince pies, more office chocolate and more celebrations involving alcohol. Now at The Transformation Chef we really are all about balance so fear not...

Read more

As Christmas is rolling around we can’t ignore the fact that the festive season is getting into full swing. Naturally this means more mince pies, more office chocolate and more celebrations involving alcohol. Now at The Transformation Chef we really are all about balance so fear not...

Read more


Mood Boosters for Winter Months

As winter has crept up on us and the days are shorter, the mornings and afternoons are darker it’s likely that your mood might fall a little bit lower too. Fear not though, we’re here with our top mood boosting tips to see you through the winter.

Read more

As winter has crept up on us and the days are shorter, the mornings and afternoons are darker it’s likely that your mood might fall a little bit lower too. Fear not though, we’re here with our top mood boosting tips to see you through the winter.

Read more


Everything You Need To Know When Following A Vegan Diet

Veganism and plant-based eating have been on the rise over the past few years and right now it’s hotter than ever.

There are multiple claims plastered all over these diets from environmental benefits, economical benefits and health benefits. If the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle sounds appealing to you we’re here to guide you on everything you need to know whilst following this way of eating. Considering November has #WorldVeganDay, we thought now was the perfect time to shine some light.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between plant-based eating and the vegan diet. Whilst they’re often used interchangeably there are some differences. Both diets are focused around the omission of consuming animal products or animal derived foods (e.g. dairy, honey and eggs etc) yet they do differ. A vegan diet is heavily focused on the removal of animal foods yet it can include highly processed alternatives. Veganism is also often more of a lifestyle choice where-by the values are carried through when it comes to clothing, accessories and beauty products too. A plant-based diet emphasises the importance of eating wholefoods which are derived from plants. Examples of these foods include: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

There are many health benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet, namely increased fibre intake, increased phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) and increased dietary diversity although there are also risks of nutrient deficiencies associated with this way of eating. Let us explain…

We’ve outlined some key nutrients which pose risk of deficiency and how you can minimise your risk below…

Calcium

You’ll likely be aware that calcium is vital for bone health. Around 99% of our calcium is stored in our bones with 1% in the blood. Deficiency can sometimes be challenging to identify though as when calcium in the blood drops it draws calcium from the bone. Therefore, it’s important to stay on top of your calcium intakes in order to prevent long term damage to your bones. Calcium is usually found in dairy and so following a plant-based diet can pose deficiency risk. Plant-based sources include: tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables and seeds. We recommend ensuring that your plant-milks are fortified too.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for bone health and mood. It also plays an important role in helping with the absorption of calcium. You’ll be pleased to know that this nutrient risk is not limited to individuals on a plant-based or vegan diet. Vitamin D is difficult to get from the diet as dietary sources are limited to: eggs, milk, salmon and mushrooms. Consequently, we rely on the sun which stimulates the skin to synthesise vitamin D. As sun exposure is limited in the UK during the winter months it’s recommended to supplement with 10ųg.d and ensure your plant milks are fortified with this too.

Iron

Animal sources and plant sources of iron are often compared as being on par with each other. Although, what’s missed is that iron from animal sources (aka haem iron) is significantly more bioavailable than the iron from plant sources (aka non-haem iron). This means that more of the iron can be absorbed and utilised from animal sources than plant sources. As a result. you just need to be a little smarter when it comes to consuming plant sources. Try adding a source of vitamin C to your plant sources in order to increase the absorption. For example, squeeze lemon juice onto your greens. Other plant sources of iron include: nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Iodine

This is a nutrient which isn’t spoken about as much although is very important in maintaining a healthy thyroid function. It’s usually found in dairy products and white fish but can also be found in seaweed (in very high quantities so eat in moderation), potatoes and prunes. Avoid supplementing with kelp as the iron levels are so high it poses a risk of toxicity.

Omega-3

This nutrient is predominantly found in its active forms (EPA and DHA) in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring- remember SMASH). You can also find omega-3 in its inactive form (ALA) in plant foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. ALA needs to be converted into DHA and EPA before it can be used, this leads to much of the ALA getting lost in translation. As a result, it’s recommended to consume a source of omega-3 most days. E.g. add some flax into your porridge or try our hemp and banana pancakes.

Vitamin B12

This nutrient gets the most coverage when it comes to discussing a plant-based diet. B12 is vital for energy production. As B12 is mainly found in animal products and is limited in plant sources it’s recommended to supplement daily. Please speak to your health care provider though as medications and supplements can sometimes interact. Additionally, fortified milks, fortified yeast spreads and nutritional yeast are good sources of vitamin B12 too.

There you have the low down on the key nutrients to be aware of when following a plant based or vegan diet. Please monitor how you’re feeling (and don’t just go along with it because someone else told you too). We also recommend that you get your bloods done regularly to ensure you’re not deficient in any nutrients.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our full vegan range on our website too!  

Read more

Veganism and plant-based eating have been on the rise over the past few years and right now it’s hotter than ever.

There are multiple claims plastered all over these diets from environmental benefits, economical benefits and health benefits. If the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle sounds appealing to you we’re here to guide you on everything you need to know whilst following this way of eating. Considering November has #WorldVeganDay, we thought now was the perfect time to shine some light.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between plant-based eating and the vegan diet. Whilst they’re often used interchangeably there are some differences. Both diets are focused around the omission of consuming animal products or animal derived foods (e.g. dairy, honey and eggs etc) yet they do differ. A vegan diet is heavily focused on the removal of animal foods yet it can include highly processed alternatives. Veganism is also often more of a lifestyle choice where-by the values are carried through when it comes to clothing, accessories and beauty products too. A plant-based diet emphasises the importance of eating wholefoods which are derived from plants. Examples of these foods include: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

There are many health benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet, namely increased fibre intake, increased phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) and increased dietary diversity although there are also risks of nutrient deficiencies associated with this way of eating. Let us explain…

We’ve outlined some key nutrients which pose risk of deficiency and how you can minimise your risk below…

Calcium

You’ll likely be aware that calcium is vital for bone health. Around 99% of our calcium is stored in our bones with 1% in the blood. Deficiency can sometimes be challenging to identify though as when calcium in the blood drops it draws calcium from the bone. Therefore, it’s important to stay on top of your calcium intakes in order to prevent long term damage to your bones. Calcium is usually found in dairy and so following a plant-based diet can pose deficiency risk. Plant-based sources include: tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables and seeds. We recommend ensuring that your plant-milks are fortified too.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for bone health and mood. It also plays an important role in helping with the absorption of calcium. You’ll be pleased to know that this nutrient risk is not limited to individuals on a plant-based or vegan diet. Vitamin D is difficult to get from the diet as dietary sources are limited to: eggs, milk, salmon and mushrooms. Consequently, we rely on the sun which stimulates the skin to synthesise vitamin D. As sun exposure is limited in the UK during the winter months it’s recommended to supplement with 10ųg.d and ensure your plant milks are fortified with this too.

Iron

Animal sources and plant sources of iron are often compared as being on par with each other. Although, what’s missed is that iron from animal sources (aka haem iron) is significantly more bioavailable than the iron from plant sources (aka non-haem iron). This means that more of the iron can be absorbed and utilised from animal sources than plant sources. As a result. you just need to be a little smarter when it comes to consuming plant sources. Try adding a source of vitamin C to your plant sources in order to increase the absorption. For example, squeeze lemon juice onto your greens. Other plant sources of iron include: nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Iodine

This is a nutrient which isn’t spoken about as much although is very important in maintaining a healthy thyroid function. It’s usually found in dairy products and white fish but can also be found in seaweed (in very high quantities so eat in moderation), potatoes and prunes. Avoid supplementing with kelp as the iron levels are so high it poses a risk of toxicity.

Omega-3

This nutrient is predominantly found in its active forms (EPA and DHA) in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring- remember SMASH). You can also find omega-3 in its inactive form (ALA) in plant foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. ALA needs to be converted into DHA and EPA before it can be used, this leads to much of the ALA getting lost in translation. As a result, it’s recommended to consume a source of omega-3 most days. E.g. add some flax into your porridge or try our hemp and banana pancakes.

Vitamin B12

This nutrient gets the most coverage when it comes to discussing a plant-based diet. B12 is vital for energy production. As B12 is mainly found in animal products and is limited in plant sources it’s recommended to supplement daily. Please speak to your health care provider though as medications and supplements can sometimes interact. Additionally, fortified milks, fortified yeast spreads and nutritional yeast are good sources of vitamin B12 too.

There you have the low down on the key nutrients to be aware of when following a plant based or vegan diet. Please monitor how you’re feeling (and don’t just go along with it because someone else told you too). We also recommend that you get your bloods done regularly to ensure you’re not deficient in any nutrients.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our full vegan range on our website too!  

Read more


The Sugar Debate

As this week is Sugar Awareness Week what better time to delve into the good, the bad and the ugly of the sweet white stuff.

It’s no secret that as a population we consume way too much sugar and with the introduction of the sugar tax in April 2018 it’s clear that there are attempts to try and limit sugar consumption. At The Transformation Chef we strongly believe that knowledge is power and it’s for that reason that we want to outline the ins and outs of sugar to hopefully help you to understand why in very small amounts sugar can be sweet but in excess it can be somewhat sinister.

We’ve answered your most common sugar questions below.

What is sugar?

Sugar is defined as “a class of soluble, sweet tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues”. Sucrose and glucose are the most common types of sugar. Carbohydrates (with the exception of fibre) are broken down into glucose in the body to be used as energy. Excess sugar intake increases the need for insulin (the hormone which regulates blood sugar). Over a prolonged period of time the constant need for more insulin can lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance/ pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Where do we find sugar?

Trying to identify what sugar is in todays products can be challenging as it’s often hidden under a name which you may not be aware of as sugar. Food manufacturers are sneaking sugar into everything they can from yoghurts, to pasta sauces to cereals and even pre-made soups. To help you make light of some of the ingredients in your foods we’ve created a list of a whole host of names of different types of sugar: sugar, glucose, corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup, date syrup, castor sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, molasses, sorbitol, refiner’s syrup, glucose syrup, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup, honey, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, malt, mannitol, dextran, ethylmaltol, galactose and raw sugar. As you can see the list is endless and we could go on but you get the idea. If previously you were looking out for sugar in the ingredients list, please be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a few more names now.

What’s the difference between refined sugar and unrefined sugar?

There’s a lot of talk nowadays around unrefined sugar although do we really understand what that means? Refined sugar is sugar which has gone through an intense processing process whereby the sugar is stripped from all nutritional value. As a result we’re left with what we call empty calories. These are calories which contain zero nutritional benefit. In comparison, unrefined sugar has not been through this process and therefore retains more of its nutrients. So, which is better? Essentially both refined and unrefined sugars generate a spike in blood sugar levels and therefore an increase in the need for insulin (a high demand over time can become problematic as discussed above). When consumed in excess both types of sugar can have an effect on weight gain and all the other risks associated with the consumption of excess sugar. Although, unrefined sugars do contain some nutritional value rather than simply providing empty calories. It’s important to note that they are classified as added sugar and therefore do contribute to the upper limits of 30g of sugar per day.

What’s classified as added sugar?

The sugar debate can become incredibly complicated when we start getting into the added sugars vs the intrinsic sugars. Essentially added sugars are sugars which are added into a food item. Natural sugars can be classed as added sugars. Honey, fruit juice, maple syrup (essentially all the sugars above) are also classified as added. There are often lots of questions around fruit juice and whether it’s counted as an added sugar. In short, it is classified as an added sugar when it is not contained within it’s original matrix within the fruit itself.

What are the risks of consuming too much sugar?

This question really requires a whole other blog post. Although to give you some context consuming too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, increased appetite, low levels of sustained energy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic diseases. We aren’t suggesting that you’ll develop these over night from one large sugar hit but over a prolonged period of time it’s definitely something we recommend limiting.

How can we reduce our sugar consumption?

Below are our top tips for helping to reduce your sugar consumption:

  • Avoid adding sugar to your tea or coffee. One teaspoon, twice per day equates to 8g of sugar. That’s nearly a third of your total daily allowance. Start by halving the sugar in your hot drinks before removing it completely.
  • Mix up your desserts – if you’re someone who consumes dessert on a regular basis try swapping your indulgent pud for fruit with natural yoghurt a few nights of the week.
  • Avoid high sugar drinks. Sugar sweetened drinks provide you with no nutritional value and have been shown to increase appetite. Therefore, you’d be better off to squeeze the juice of half an orange into your sparkling water instead or opt for herbal fruit teas instead.
  • Avoid the ‘healthy’ snacks such as low-fat yoghurt, cereal bars and some cereals as these can be loaded with sugar. Try making your own or check out our healthier sweet snacks instead. Our snacks from Protein & Pantry are loaded with healthy fats and protein to help slow the release of the sugar into the blood stream and consequently keep you fuller for longer.
  • Opt for protein rich snacks such as boiled eggs, our Transformation Chef egg muffins, a handful of nuts or hummus and crudites to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning or afternoon and to help manage sugar cravings.

There you have the complete low down on sugar. Remember life is for living after all so a small amount of the white stuff now and again really isn’t the end of the world as long as you’re enjoying it!

 

Read more

As this week is Sugar Awareness Week what better time to delve into the good, the bad and the ugly of the sweet white stuff.

It’s no secret that as a population we consume way too much sugar and with the introduction of the sugar tax in April 2018 it’s clear that there are attempts to try and limit sugar consumption. At The Transformation Chef we strongly believe that knowledge is power and it’s for that reason that we want to outline the ins and outs of sugar to hopefully help you to understand why in very small amounts sugar can be sweet but in excess it can be somewhat sinister.

We’ve answered your most common sugar questions below.

What is sugar?

Sugar is defined as “a class of soluble, sweet tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues”. Sucrose and glucose are the most common types of sugar. Carbohydrates (with the exception of fibre) are broken down into glucose in the body to be used as energy. Excess sugar intake increases the need for insulin (the hormone which regulates blood sugar). Over a prolonged period of time the constant need for more insulin can lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance/ pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Where do we find sugar?

Trying to identify what sugar is in todays products can be challenging as it’s often hidden under a name which you may not be aware of as sugar. Food manufacturers are sneaking sugar into everything they can from yoghurts, to pasta sauces to cereals and even pre-made soups. To help you make light of some of the ingredients in your foods we’ve created a list of a whole host of names of different types of sugar: sugar, glucose, corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup, date syrup, castor sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, molasses, sorbitol, refiner’s syrup, glucose syrup, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup, honey, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, malt, mannitol, dextran, ethylmaltol, galactose and raw sugar. As you can see the list is endless and we could go on but you get the idea. If previously you were looking out for sugar in the ingredients list, please be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a few more names now.

What’s the difference between refined sugar and unrefined sugar?

There’s a lot of talk nowadays around unrefined sugar although do we really understand what that means? Refined sugar is sugar which has gone through an intense processing process whereby the sugar is stripped from all nutritional value. As a result we’re left with what we call empty calories. These are calories which contain zero nutritional benefit. In comparison, unrefined sugar has not been through this process and therefore retains more of its nutrients. So, which is better? Essentially both refined and unrefined sugars generate a spike in blood sugar levels and therefore an increase in the need for insulin (a high demand over time can become problematic as discussed above). When consumed in excess both types of sugar can have an effect on weight gain and all the other risks associated with the consumption of excess sugar. Although, unrefined sugars do contain some nutritional value rather than simply providing empty calories. It’s important to note that they are classified as added sugar and therefore do contribute to the upper limits of 30g of sugar per day.

What’s classified as added sugar?

The sugar debate can become incredibly complicated when we start getting into the added sugars vs the intrinsic sugars. Essentially added sugars are sugars which are added into a food item. Natural sugars can be classed as added sugars. Honey, fruit juice, maple syrup (essentially all the sugars above) are also classified as added. There are often lots of questions around fruit juice and whether it’s counted as an added sugar. In short, it is classified as an added sugar when it is not contained within it’s original matrix within the fruit itself.

What are the risks of consuming too much sugar?

This question really requires a whole other blog post. Although to give you some context consuming too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, increased appetite, low levels of sustained energy, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic diseases. We aren’t suggesting that you’ll develop these over night from one large sugar hit but over a prolonged period of time it’s definitely something we recommend limiting.

How can we reduce our sugar consumption?

Below are our top tips for helping to reduce your sugar consumption:

  • Avoid adding sugar to your tea or coffee. One teaspoon, twice per day equates to 8g of sugar. That’s nearly a third of your total daily allowance. Start by halving the sugar in your hot drinks before removing it completely.
  • Mix up your desserts – if you’re someone who consumes dessert on a regular basis try swapping your indulgent pud for fruit with natural yoghurt a few nights of the week.
  • Avoid high sugar drinks. Sugar sweetened drinks provide you with no nutritional value and have been shown to increase appetite. Therefore, you’d be better off to squeeze the juice of half an orange into your sparkling water instead or opt for herbal fruit teas instead.
  • Avoid the ‘healthy’ snacks such as low-fat yoghurt, cereal bars and some cereals as these can be loaded with sugar. Try making your own or check out our healthier sweet snacks instead. Our snacks from Protein & Pantry are loaded with healthy fats and protein to help slow the release of the sugar into the blood stream and consequently keep you fuller for longer.
  • Opt for protein rich snacks such as boiled eggs, our Transformation Chef egg muffins, a handful of nuts or hummus and crudites to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning or afternoon and to help manage sugar cravings.

There you have the complete low down on sugar. Remember life is for living after all so a small amount of the white stuff now and again really isn’t the end of the world as long as you’re enjoying it!

 

Read more


Cholesterol. Everything You Need To Know

October was National Cholesterol Awareness Month which means the media throw out multiple scaremongering headlines, which is why here at TTC we’ve got your back and want to share with you the ins and outs of cholesterol.

We want you to make light of some these messages and realise it might not be all that bad. In fact, despite the fact cholesterol often getting a bad rep it’s actually vital to our overall health. Let us explain:

 

  1. Cholesterol is essential for our hormone production. It allows our adrenals and sex organs to produce hormones such as cortisol, testosterone and oestrogen to name a few.
  2. Cholesterol is also essential in the production of bile. Bile is essential for the absorption and digestion of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. E.g. vitamins A,D, E and K.
  3. Cholesterol is also vital for contributing to our cell structure and helps to protect the outside of the cells.

 

The different types of cholesterol

 

You may have heard about ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol’. There are multiple types of cholesterol but without going to Einstein on you we’ve broken it down into the most important types.

 

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-  often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’. This type can stick to the inside of blood vessels which in turn will increase the risks of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Smoking, lack of exercise and diet can play a role in raising LDL. With regards to diet consuming too much saturated and trans fats in the forms of hydrogenated vegetable oils, processed foods, red meat, cheese etc. all contributed to raised LDL.

 

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)- often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol. A key role of HDL is to remove LDL. Therefore if you have raised HDL this is actually beneficial for you as it means there’s more to remove the LDL which can prevent plaque build up. Foods which contribute to raised HDL include: nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados, hummus etc.

 

How to lower high cholesterol?

 

This might be the key reason you’re reading this article. It’s important to note that each case is unique and some forms of high cholesterol such as familial hypercholesterolaemia is genetic although for the most part here are our top tips.

Firstly, you should ask your GP for a breakdown of your total cholesterol. This means that you want to see the values for LDL and HDL. Your main concern should be if your LDL is higher than 3mmol.L. Some research has suggested that by lowering your LDL by 1mmol.L you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%.

 

Top tips for lowering cholesterol…

 

Limit saturated fat intake

 

Focus on limiting your intake of red and processed meat, cheese, butter, palm oil and hydrogenated vegetable oils in processed foods. Swap butter for fortified spreads or peanut butter. Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats which contributes to increasing HDL. It’s important that you start reading labels to understand the amount of saturated fats in the foods you’re consuming regularly. Foods which contain more than 5g per 100g of saturated fat are considered high. Foods which contain 1.5g or less are considered low. It’s also recommended to start incorporating more beans and pulses into your diet too. 

 

Plant Sterols and Stanols

 

Plant sterols and stanols have been shown to help lower cholesterol as they block it’s absorption into the blood. As a result more cholesterol is excreted rather than being absorbed. Plant sterols and stanols can be found in fortified foods such as spreads, yoghurts and drinks although be aware that some contain large amounts of sugar and should not be over consumed.

 

Consume beta-glucans

 

Beta-glucans are fibres which are found naturally in plants. These work in a way which is similar to the plant stanols as they too prevent the uptake of cholesterol into the blood. Research has demonstrated that beta-glucans help to reduce LDL cholesterol but have no effect on raising HDL. Individuals with diabetes showed to have even greater effects from consuming beta-glucans. Oats, barely, mushrooms and seaweed are all rich in beta-glucans.

 

Consume your 5-a-day

 

It’s no surprise that fruits and vegetables are a good source of fibre. As a result they help to keep you fuller for longer meaning that this can help you to consume less processed foods. Research has also shown an association with those who consumed more than four portions of fruit and vegetables a day having a lower LDL cholesterol.

 

Move Regularly

 

Whilst this isn’t exactly nutrition related. Here at The Transformation Chef we believe that health requires a 360˚ approach. Aerobic exercise has been shown to have positive effects on HDL cholesterol.  The NICE guidelines suggest that you engage in 120 minutes of of aerobic exercise a week. That doesn’t  mean that you have to pound it out in the gym it can be a simple half an hour walk, a yoga session online or even an activity such as rock climbing. It’s important that you enjoy your movement!

 

Often, being told you have high cholesterol can leave you feeling scared and lost. However, through dietary and lifestyle changes you can help to lower your cholesterol. Please do pass this article on to any of your friends or family who may be concerned about their cholesterol. Knowledge is power!

 

Smet, E. D., Mensink, R. P., & Plat, J. (2012). Effects of plant sterols and stanols on intestinal cholesterol metabolism: suggested mechanisms from past to present. Molecular nutrition & food research56(7), 1058-1072.

 

Whitehead, A., Beck, E. J., Tosh, S., & Wolever, T. M. (2014). Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials–. The American journal of clinical nutrition100(6), 1413-1421.

 

Othman, R. A., Moghadasian, M. H., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Cholesterol‐lowering effects of oat β‐glucan. Nutrition reviews69(6), 299-309.

 

Djoussé, L., Arnett, D. K., Coon, H., Province, M. A., Moore, L. L., & Ellison, R. C. (2004). Fruit and vegetable consumption and LDL cholesterol: the national heart, lung, and blood institute family heart study. The American journal of clinical nutrition79(2), 213-217.

 

Kodama, S., Tanaka, S., Saito, K., Shu, M., Sone, Y., Onitake, F., ... & Ohashi, Y. (2007). Effect of aerobic exercise training on serum levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a meta-analysis. Archives of internal medicine167(10), 999-1008.

 

Read more

October was National Cholesterol Awareness Month which means the media throw out multiple scaremongering headlines, which is why here at TTC we’ve got your back and want to share with you the ins and outs of cholesterol.

We want you to make light of some these messages and realise it might not be all that bad. In fact, despite the fact cholesterol often getting a bad rep it’s actually vital to our overall health. Let us explain:

 

  1. Cholesterol is essential for our hormone production. It allows our adrenals and sex organs to produce hormones such as cortisol, testosterone and oestrogen to name a few.
  2. Cholesterol is also essential in the production of bile. Bile is essential for the absorption and digestion of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. E.g. vitamins A,D, E and K.
  3. Cholesterol is also vital for contributing to our cell structure and helps to protect the outside of the cells.

 

The different types of cholesterol

 

You may have heard about ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol’. There are multiple types of cholesterol but without going to Einstein on you we’ve broken it down into the most important types.

 

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-  often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’. This type can stick to the inside of blood vessels which in turn will increase the risks of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Smoking, lack of exercise and diet can play a role in raising LDL. With regards to diet consuming too much saturated and trans fats in the forms of hydrogenated vegetable oils, processed foods, red meat, cheese etc. all contributed to raised LDL.

 

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)- often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol. A key role of HDL is to remove LDL. Therefore if you have raised HDL this is actually beneficial for you as it means there’s more to remove the LDL which can prevent plaque build up. Foods which contribute to raised HDL include: nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados, hummus etc.

 

How to lower high cholesterol?

 

This might be the key reason you’re reading this article. It’s important to note that each case is unique and some forms of high cholesterol such as familial hypercholesterolaemia is genetic although for the most part here are our top tips.

Firstly, you should ask your GP for a breakdown of your total cholesterol. This means that you want to see the values for LDL and HDL. Your main concern should be if your LDL is higher than 3mmol.L. Some research has suggested that by lowering your LDL by 1mmol.L you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%.

 

Top tips for lowering cholesterol…

 

Limit saturated fat intake

 

Focus on limiting your intake of red and processed meat, cheese, butter, palm oil and hydrogenated vegetable oils in processed foods. Swap butter for fortified spreads or peanut butter. Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats which contributes to increasing HDL. It’s important that you start reading labels to understand the amount of saturated fats in the foods you’re consuming regularly. Foods which contain more than 5g per 100g of saturated fat are considered high. Foods which contain 1.5g or less are considered low. It’s also recommended to start incorporating more beans and pulses into your diet too. 

 

Plant Sterols and Stanols

 

Plant sterols and stanols have been shown to help lower cholesterol as they block it’s absorption into the blood. As a result more cholesterol is excreted rather than being absorbed. Plant sterols and stanols can be found in fortified foods such as spreads, yoghurts and drinks although be aware that some contain large amounts of sugar and should not be over consumed.

 

Consume beta-glucans

 

Beta-glucans are fibres which are found naturally in plants. These work in a way which is similar to the plant stanols as they too prevent the uptake of cholesterol into the blood. Research has demonstrated that beta-glucans help to reduce LDL cholesterol but have no effect on raising HDL. Individuals with diabetes showed to have even greater effects from consuming beta-glucans. Oats, barely, mushrooms and seaweed are all rich in beta-glucans.

 

Consume your 5-a-day

 

It’s no surprise that fruits and vegetables are a good source of fibre. As a result they help to keep you fuller for longer meaning that this can help you to consume less processed foods. Research has also shown an association with those who consumed more than four portions of fruit and vegetables a day having a lower LDL cholesterol.

 

Move Regularly

 

Whilst this isn’t exactly nutrition related. Here at The Transformation Chef we believe that health requires a 360˚ approach. Aerobic exercise has been shown to have positive effects on HDL cholesterol.  The NICE guidelines suggest that you engage in 120 minutes of of aerobic exercise a week. That doesn’t  mean that you have to pound it out in the gym it can be a simple half an hour walk, a yoga session online or even an activity such as rock climbing. It’s important that you enjoy your movement!

 

Often, being told you have high cholesterol can leave you feeling scared and lost. However, through dietary and lifestyle changes you can help to lower your cholesterol. Please do pass this article on to any of your friends or family who may be concerned about their cholesterol. Knowledge is power!

 

Smet, E. D., Mensink, R. P., & Plat, J. (2012). Effects of plant sterols and stanols on intestinal cholesterol metabolism: suggested mechanisms from past to present. Molecular nutrition & food research56(7), 1058-1072.

 

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Othman, R. A., Moghadasian, M. H., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Cholesterol‐lowering effects of oat β‐glucan. Nutrition reviews69(6), 299-309.

 

Djoussé, L., Arnett, D. K., Coon, H., Province, M. A., Moore, L. L., & Ellison, R. C. (2004). Fruit and vegetable consumption and LDL cholesterol: the national heart, lung, and blood institute family heart study. The American journal of clinical nutrition79(2), 213-217.

 

Kodama, S., Tanaka, S., Saito, K., Shu, M., Sone, Y., Onitake, F., ... & Ohashi, Y. (2007). Effect of aerobic exercise training on serum levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a meta-analysis. Archives of internal medicine167(10), 999-1008.

 

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