Alternatively Speaking: Containing cholesterol

Which foods reduce cholesterol? How can I prevent cold sores? Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers.

Cold sore 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Cold sore 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Q. Natalie, my doctor has warned me that my cholesterol is getting high. The conventional treatments available have all kinds of  unpleasant side effects. Are there any foods to help reduce cholesterol?
A. I highly recommend using garlic. As well as antimicrobial and lipid-lowering properties, the active ingredients in garlic include sulphur compounds like allicin and ajoene. A study by Dr. Khalid S. Al-Numair published in the 2009 issue of the "Pakistan Journal of Nutrition" supports the traditional use of garlic for high cholesterol. The study tested a garlic extract on mice with induced high cholesterol. The study found that the extract reduced blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL, or bad cholesterol, and also reduced liver cholesterol and triglycerides. The extract increased HDL, or good cholesterol, and raised antioxidant levels. Do not combine garlic with blood-thinning medications. medicine
Eating fatty fish is great for your heart because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. I recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:
  •  Lake trout
  •  Sardines
  •  Mackerel
  •  Herring
  •  Salmon
I recommend you bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don't like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like canola oil or ground flaxseed.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, pears, apples, prunes and barley. I recommend five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day to decrease your total and LDL cholesterol. Just by eating one and a half cups of cooked oatmeal it will provide you six grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you'll add about four more grams of fiber.
Finally, almonds, walnuts and other nuts can really help to reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts will also help keep blood vessels healthy. Research by the Food and Drug Administration shows that by eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. It is important to make sure the nuts you eat aren't salted or coated with sugar. Instead of using cheese, or croutons in your salad, you can add a handful of walnuts or almonds...just be careful not to overeat since nuts are high in calories!
Q. Natalie, I have been suffering from arthritis and I want to know which foods I should be avoiding. Can you help?
A. A good way to find out if something is aggravating your arthritis is to constantly monitor your diet. Do this by keeping a journal of what you have eaten, and what pain you experience. If you begin to notice any patterns (such as joint pain the day after eating a certain food), you will need to try and isolate the cause. There are some foods that are known for aggravating arthritis, these common culprits are:
  • sugar
  • caffeine
  • citrus fruits
  • salt
  • red meat
  • dairy products
  • additives
  • soft drinks
  • corn
I have had a great deal of success recommending the herb Alfalfa. Alfalfa contains lots of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium) that have a neutralizing effect on your blood. Since arthritis is often caused by acidosis (an acid condition of the blood), alfalfa can help reverse or prevent that condition. It also has a general detoxifying effect on your body.
I suggest drinking alfalfa tea:
  • Place 1 ounce of alfalfa in a pot
  • Cover it with one quart of water
  • Boil for thirty minutes
  • Strain and drink the tea throughout the day
Do this for only two or three weeks, then break for a week before starting again.Research suggests that 10 to 20 percent of arthritis sufferers will benefit from using alfalfa, with a nearly total reduction of pain symptoms.
Q. I am fed up with getting recurrent cold sores. I manage to control them with conventional treatment but they always come back. Can you recommend anything to apply topically that is more natural and perhaps some foods that I should be avoiding?
A. Certain foods containing the amino acid arginine (chocolate, peanuts, nuts, seeds, raisins and cereal grains) are thought to be a contributing factor in herpes simplex outbreaks, the cold sore virus, so I recommend reducing your intake of these foods. Another amino acid called lysine, inhibits the absorption of arginine and is considered to suppress this virus. Lysine-rich foods include most antioxidant-packed vegetables, eggs, chicken, legumes and fish (rich in zinc to boost immune system). You can also take a lysine supplement to speed the recovery process, take 1,000 mg of lysine three times a day during a cold sore outbreak. Externally you can look for a lip balm that contains liquorice. Liquorice can be an aide to soothing your lips and reducing your regular outbreaks as it contains antiviral glycyrrhizic acid, a compound that can help inactivate the herpes simplex virus.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at [email protected]
Someone Once Said: "Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food."
- Hippocrates