Tag Archives: cholesterol

Powerful Punchy Pumpkin Seeds

Maintaining a healthy diet is just as important as exercise when it comes to practicing a healthy lifestyle. Many of us are looking at new ways of introducing healthy super foods into our diets, but as our days become busier and schedules become booked up, it’s easy to pick up the wrong kind of snack foods. Say no to doughnuts and crisps and grab yourself a handful of powerful punchy Pumpkin seeds.

Not only are they deliciously more-ish, they’re easy to transport around with you during a busy working day, whilst being widely available in ready to eat packaging. Be wary that they are high in calorific content, so moderation is the key (as is the case with everything). Here are the top 4 pumpkin seed benefits which demonstrate why the pumpkin is the pumpking!

Help control stress

The naturally high level of L-trytophan found in pumpkin seeds have been shown to calm the nerves and maintain a “calm mood”. Ease your stress levels by munching on a handful of the “pumpking” seeds and taking a 5 minute break from your desk!

Glowing Skin

Pumpkin seeds contain a high level of vitamin E, preventing the early breakdown of skin cells. This helps to maintain a youthful looking glow whilst combating high levels of UV found in the sun. Perfect accompaniment for those in a warmer climate.

Lower cholesterol

Packed with phytosterol, which help to reduce cholesterol levels, toasted seeds contain healthy compounds that help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. This increases your immune response whilst helping to decrease the risk of certain cancers.

They fill you up!

Packed with high levels of protein and fibre, the pumpkin seed is great snack to turn to for a quick fill me up. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds, seasoned with a dash of salt!

5 Wholesome Healthy Heart Foods

The sudden influx of the UK health conscious culture over the last decade has caused many of us to take a long hard look at ourselves ask one simple question – How can I be healthier? Dramatic and unsustainable lifestyle changes really don’t work, so many of us have taken to the idea of changing a small part of our lifestyle one piece at a time. Joining the gym is an option that works for many, but a commonly overlooked area is taking a look at the foods we eat. With coronary heart disease still standing as the number 1 killer in the United Kingdom according the National Office of Statistics, changing what we eat on a day-to-day basis will have a dramatic effect on our heart health.

Although year-on-year statistics are falling with medical advances in science, and as a Nation are making changes in our day-to-day lives, there is still room for improvement. There are obvious requirements such as exercising regularly, eating healthier and drinking less alcohol – but keeping a healthy heart can as simple as avoiding the salt soaked fat induced morsels that tempt up on a daily basis.

Take a look at our recommended 5 wholesome hearty foods and try integrating them today:

Olive Oil

Used daily by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean isles, olive oil has been shown to help regulate blood flow, whilst being rich in healthy mono-saturated fats. According a new 2012 study compiled by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “just 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day almost halves your risk of dying from heart disease”. It’s important to look at swapping saturated fats such as butter or lard that raise the risk of heart disease,  for unsaturated fats like olive oil to help lower your overall cholesterol.

Suggestion: Drizzle over your favourite salad leaves or roasted vegetables! 


Apples and pears are naturally high in fibre and antioxidants, hence the encouragement to try and eat one at least once a day. The fibre in pears however is made from “pectin” water soluble fibres which has been shown to reduce cholesterol by binding molecules in the bowel instead allowing them to circulate through the bloodstream. Pears also contain antioxidant flavonoids which help to support your cardiovascular health inhibiting plaque formations in the arteries.

Suggestions: Eat as you would normally or try sliced as a dessert or into salads. 


Known as one of the most powerful fruits money can buy, blueberries are powerful disease fighters loaded with antioxidants which work to protect the body against free radicals. The unique blue pigmentation comes from anthocyanins, responsible for providing most of the anti-oxidant properties. Rich in vitamin C, Blueberries are packed with fibre which is essential for lowering your cholesterol levels.

Suggestions: Delicious on their own or sprinkled over your breakfast cereal 


Forget the fact that Garlic is the last thing you want to eat on a first date – Garlic is a pocket-sized superfood you simply don’t want to ignore. This spice has been shown to cure and alleviate a number of medical ailments for decades. Research into the properties of garlic and the cause of it’s wonder-powers show how it decreases the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries. Lower calorific values of just 10 calories per clove make them a healthy way of adding flavour to any dish. Garlic also contains allicin which helps to keep blood flowing easily, reducing your blood pressure overall.

Suggestion: Crushed into most foods for added flavour or roasted with vegetables & sweet potatoes


Oily fish such as herring, sardines and mackerel contain high levels of omega-3 – a vital ingredient for improving your overall heart health. The British Heart Foundation recommends that you consume at least two portions of fish each week, with a portion of oily fish at least once a week. Consuming fish this regularly has been shown to help decrease blood pressure, regulate heart beat and make blood less susceptible to clotting.

Suggestion: Steamed with a squeeze of lemon for flavour – delicious! 



Totally Nut-tastic!

Not many of us know this, but a nut is down in the Oxford dictionary as, and I quote “a fruit consisting of a hard shell around an edible kernel.” The nut is in fact part of the fruit family, and contrary to popular belief, nuts are actually good for you when eaten in the correct way.

The following short list provided by the Healthy Hideout gives a quick insight into some of the best nuts available from most grocery stores. Why not look into getting some of these nuts into your diet as soon as possible:

Brazil Nuts – In addition to the usual nut health properties, the brazil nut is unique due to the high selenium content, a mineral proven to help protect against cancer, heart disease and even premature ageing. Limit yourself to a handful a day, as too much selenium can be dangerous. An easy way to incorporate Brazil nuts into your diet is to sprinkle them over rice and vegetable dishes. For a sweet treat, why not try them chocolate? Tasty!

Almonds – There are many arguments both for and against the almonds, as they’ve been derided as a calorific “easy to eat” party snack both high in fat and salt. However, take raw almonds without salt eaten in the correct quantities and you have yourself a great source of protein, fibre and antioxidants – all of which have been proven to help lower cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart of disease.

Cashew Nuts – This common bean shaped nut grows on the stalk of the cashew pear, used frequently in sweet and savoury Asian dishes. Cashews are a great source of magnesium, helping support healthy muscle & bone growth. The high-fibre properties of the cashew nut are also used in effective weight management when eaten in moderation.

Pistachio Nuts – Unsalted pistachios are a nutrient packed food dense with a considerable amount of vitamins and minerals, making them quite  a perfect snack. A single one ounce serving of around 30 nuts contains up to 10% of your daily requirements of fibre, magnesium and B vitamins. Perfect for keeping your immunity system strong and healthy.

Walnuts – These hard shelled nuts contain an impressive level of mono unsaturated fats, with more omega 3 than any other nut. Some studies have shown how walnuts can help fight against depression, whilst helping to maintain a healthy heart. Tests have shown how eating 8 walnuts a day can help lower cholesterol by up to 10%.

Getting up at work is ‘good for the heart’

With the increasing number of computer and telephone related jobs you may find yourself stuck behind your office desk for many hours at a time. However, new research suggests that if you can interject these prolonged seating periods with standing up and stretching your legs then your heart will thank you. Taking lots of short minute length breaks throughout the day was not only shown to help your heart but can also help keep your waist size under control.

Barack Obama sitting at the Resolute desk

The study looked at 4,757 adults aged 20 years old and over by Dr Healy and his colleagues who were conducting the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survery between 2003 and 2006. Each participant carried out their normal daily routine while wearing a small walking and running sensor to monitor movements during the day. The study also took measurements of blood fats, waist circumference, cholesterol levels and and blood pressure.

The study which was presented in the European Heart Journal further confirms the idea that sitting down for long periods of time is bad for your health. The study noted that those who sit for longer periods of time tended to have larger waistlines and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol. Lead researcher Dr Healy said, “Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk.”

“It is likely that regular breaks in prolonged sitting time could be readily incorporated into the working environment without any detrimental impact on productivity, although this still needs to be determined by further research. Stand up, move more, more often’ could be used as a slogan to get this message across.”

Amy Thompson, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation gave the following advice; “If you’re in the office, walk to someone’s desk instead of sending an e-mail and avoid the lift by taking the stairs. Regular physical activity is essential to protect cardiovascular health.”

Top Tips to Maintain a Healthy Heart at Work

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift when going to and from your office
  • Walk across the office to see a colleague instead of phoning or emailing
  • Stand up when taking telephone calls
  • Move bins and printers to an area where you need to walk to them

Thanks to the BBC Health for these health tips.

8 Food myths that will shock you

Every day 2.5 million people in Britain eat from McDonald’s! So, is the 5-a-day campaign just a way to make fruit and vegetable companies rich? Is fibre actually good for you? Is fat healthy? A new book called The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? claims that many things we believe about food are wrong.

MYTH 1: Fat is bad for us

According to Harcombe: “Real fat is not bad for us”. It is the man made fats that we should be avoiding. In fact our body needs fat as it is essential for every cell. In a pork chop there is about 2.3% of unsaturated fat and 1.5% of saturated fat. According to a 2008 Family Food Survey we are deficient in the fat-soluble vitamins E, D and A. These fat-soluble vitamins are responsible for bone strength, mental health, healthy eyesight, protection of blood vessels and protection against cancer. When we eat “real” fat these vitamins are absorbed into the body.


‘Real’ fat will help us store fat soluble vitamins

MYTH 2: We should eat more fibre

We have always been told that fibre is important to help our digestive system and keep the food moving. Harcombe argues that this is not a good idea. She says: “The advice to eat more fibre is put forward along with the theory that we need to flush out our digestive systems. But essential minerals are absorbed from food while it is in the intestines, so why do we want to flush everything out? Concentrate on not putting bad foods in.”

MYTH 3: Saturated fat causes heart disease

Foods containing a high proportion of saturated fats include cream, cheese,  butter, fatty meat, chocolate and coconut oil. We have become accustomed into believing that these foods can lead to heart disease. However, Harcombe writes: “No research has ever properly proved that eating saturated fat is associated with heart disease , let alone that causes it.”

MYTH 4: More exercise is a cure for the obesity epidemic

Exercise will speed up our metabolism and mean we burn more calories and lose fat. Harcombe is not convinced, telling us: “If you push yourself into doing extra exercise, it will be counter-productive because you will get hungry – your body will be craving carbohydrate to replenish its lost stores. If you are trying to control weight loss, it is so much easier to control what you put into your mouth. Not how much, but what. Then it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do by way of exercise.”

MYTH 5: Cholesterol is a dietary enemy

Are high levels of cholesterol really a bad thing. Harcombe thinks not and believes that like your height it is difficult to prescribe a set level that we should aim for. Aiming for a level like 5 mmol/l is meaningless. Harcombe says, “Ancel Keys, who studied cholesterol extensively in the Fifties, said categorically that cholesterol in food does not have any impact on cholesterol in the blood. What is abnormal is the amount of carbohydrate we eat, especially refined carbohydrate, and this has been shown to determine triglyceride levels – the part of the cholesterol reading your GP may be most concerned about.”

“It’s the ultimate irony. We only told people to eat carbs because we demonised fat and, having picked the wrong villain, we are making things worse.”

MYTH 6: You need to eat 5 portions of fruit & veg every day

According to Harcombe: “Five-a-day is the most well-known  piece of nutritional advice. You’d think it was based on firm evidence of health benefit. Think again!”

She continues, “Five-a-day started as a marketing campaign by 25 fruit and veg companies and the American National Cancer Institute in 1991. There was no evidence for any cancer benefit.”

MYTH 7: Fruit  & Veg is the most nutritious things you can eat

Vegetables are a great addition to our diets but fruit is best avoided by those trying to lose weight. Harcombe states, “If served in butter to deliver the fat-soluble vitamins they contain – but fructose, the fruit sugar in fruit, goes straight to the liver and is stored as fat.”

She adds, “Vitamins and minerals in animal foods – meat, fish, eggs and dairy products – beat those in fruit hands down.”

MYTH 8: Food advisory bodies give us good, impartial advice

It seems that the food industry sponsors some of those impartial organisations we rely upon for our food advice. For example, the British Dietetic Association (BDA), who deliver much  advice for the Department of Health and NHS is sponsored by Danone, who create yoghurt’s, and Abbott Nutrition, who produce infant formula and energy bars.

Furthermore, The British Nutrition Foundation, founded in 1967 has among its sustaining members British Sugar PLC, J Sainsbury PLC, Kraft foods, Cadbury and Coca-Cola. Harcombe states, “When the food and drink industry is so actively embracing public health advice, isn’t it time to wonder how healhty that advice can be?”

Tell us what you think. For more reading why not buy Zoe Harcombe’s book now to find out more. Source: Daily Mail newspaper.