Being diagnosed with a life-altering disease can be daunting, especially considering how you will have to manage the changes that come with that lifestyle.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa defines cholesterol as a soft, fatty substance in the blood which plays an important role in cell membranes, to manufacture many hormones and bile for digestion. However, too much cholesterol increases the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke if left unchecked.
Zimbabwean born Naomie Kabala (37), says having dietary restrictive customers doesn’t mean food should lack flavour. Kabala has a kitchen caravan at the Cape Town CBD taxi rank, where she caters a variety of meals to individuals with different health conditions.
She tells Health For Mzansi that knowing your way around food means you have to explore different ways to stay true to what is “authentically you” in the kitchen, while also serving your customer’s needs.
Alternative cooking methods
Kabala says she has found that preparing fish on the braai is more popular and healthy than deep-frying it.
This is a sentiment also shared by clinical dietician Frane Helm. “I would always advise that we watch how we cook. Instead of relying on oil, try steaming, roasting, grilling, boiling or air frying your food instead since the food that we need to consume, may already contain fat and oil,” she says.
Watch what you eat
Helm says the best approach to maintain your cholesterol levels is to have a dietician tailor a diet for you according to your metabolism, so they can specifically tell you how much fat you should be taking in each day. It’s important to note that everyone is different, so recommended fat intake can vary based on energy needs.
“I would advise that people consume more monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), a healthy type of fat. Start replacing less healthy fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, with unsaturated fats, such as MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats, which offer health benefits.”
Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods, such as nuts, avocados and vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats are found in sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, soybean oil as well as walnut oil. Products containing omega 3 fatty acids, as well as soy products, are good.
Veggies and fruit are always best, Helm advises. “Eating soluble fibres contains essential fatty acids which you get when you consume your fruits and veggies, and grains are the type of foods that will help decrease your cholesterol levels.”
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle, as well as diet, play a major role in the development of diseases, believes registered nurse Noniko Mgudlwa.
“Individuals with underlying health anomalies should make it a point to test regularly and healthy adults at least yearly,” says Mgudlwa. “Maintain a healthy weight and avoid high body mass index (BMI),” she further advises.
Adapting your lifestyle to your health changes is essential to keeping abreast of your health changes, says fitness trainer Mandilakhe Mzamane.
“Exercising alone will not necessarily lower cholesterol levels, there must be other factors involved. A person’s cholesterol levels are determined by several factors including genetics, weight, age, gender and diet. Changing your diet and exercise are the two most effective ways to lower your cholesterol levels,” says Mzamane.
Replace bad fats with beneficial fats if you wish to improve your health, Helm adds. “Nuts are a healthier alternative to sweets. Saturated and trans fats, which can be found in deep-fried foods, takeout and yoghurts; and, of course, foods such as red meats should be avoided. Instead, choose leaner alternatives and low fat,” she says.