Mr Bueno is a sometimes writer, musician, and digital artist. He treats art as magick. He currently lives and works in Cambridge, England.
If you want to reduce your cholesterol without statins or going to the gym, read this immediately!
Five years ago things weren’t looking good for my long term health prospects. I was in a high stress job, working extremely long hours and not taking care of myself. I was forty years old and starting to suffer with pains in my chest and my left arm. I knew I had to do something about my health before it was too late.
My family has a history of heart disease on my father’s side of the family. My father had many brothers and sisters. Most of his brothers died in their late forties or fifties from heart related conditions, either heart attacks or strokes. My father had his first heart attack when he was forty and now at the age of seventy eight he has survived five heart attacks and had open heart surgery three times. He is now also fitted with a pacemaker and a defibrillator.
I knew if I continued living as I was, I wasn’t going to be around for much longer. My private healthcare plan gave me an option to have tests carried out on how healthy my heart was at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, one of the world’s leading heart hospitals.
On my first visit, I had my heart 3D modelled and the doctors told me that my heart seemed as healthy as an Olympic athletes. Then the results of blood tests came back and my consultant told me that my cholesterol levels were extremely high. I asked what I could do to reduce my cholesterol levels and she was pretty blunt,
“You are overweight for your size. You need to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat in foods such as cheese and the like and get more exercise. You also need to give up smoking immediately.”
I did give up smoking immediately. Within two weeks the persistent cough I had had for three or four years went and it hasn’t come back since. I suddenly had a lot more energy which was great because at the same time I also started to exercise far more than I previously had. I didn’t go mad and start jogging for miles or going to the gym, I just made sure I walked for at least two miles every day. I also cut out all sugary and carbonated drinks, completely
Along with the exercise and quitting smoking I also changed my diet and started eating better food. I had always eaten quite healthily but my discipline had slipped with my job as the hours were so long and I had been skipping breakfast and picking up junk food through the day and evening.
So, you would think with all those changes, that my cholesterol level would have dropped through the floor right?
My cholesterol level did drop somewhat, I was tested again for cholesterol levels, six months later and my level had dropped from 8 to 7.5. I told the consultant how I had changed my lifestyle and she was very pleased. She made an appointment to return in three months, after I had my cholesterol readings taken again. I returned as scheduled three months later, eager to get the results of my blood test to see how my efforts were working out.
I found it very depressing to find that after I had made such huge changes in my lifestyle that my cholesterol level had stayed stubbornly at 7.5. I returned a number of times over the next twelve months whilst I continued with my new healthy regime. My cholesterol level wouldn’t budge.
Then one day my father brought me around a bag of tomatoes that he had grown in his garden.
“Enjoy them,” he said, “They are really good for you.”
On a whim, I decided to have an internet search on the healthy properties of tomatoes and I was amazed at what I found. Not only are tomatoes a super food but the more I read, the more I became convinced that they could be one of the main players in what is termed as the ‘Mediterranean Diet.’
I found first of all that tomatoes, or more accurately lycopene, which is mainly found in tomatoes in the gooey liquid that covers the seeds is extremely good for bone health and in women especially it can greatly reduce incidence of osteoporosis.
Next though, came the eureka moment. I then read that tomatoes have been proven to help reduce LDL (known as ‘bad cholesterol’) and also stop the clumping together of platelet cells in the blood which causes ‘furring’ of the arteries which is a large factor in atherosclerosis the progression of which often leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Tomatoes are also packed full of antioxidants which are also of benefit to the cardiovascular system.
Not only are tomatoes good for the heart, eating them also helps protect against a number of types of cancer including prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.
Tomatoes have also been shown to have benefit to those suffering from neurological complaints including Alzheimer’s.
Unbelievably, tomatoes are also able to give the skin protection from dangerous UV rays from the sun. In the U.K. the BBC commissioned a study whereby a number of women were fed 55 grams of tomato paste every day for twelve weeks whilst the same numbers of women were not given any tomato paste for the same duration. Both groups of women were extremely sensitive to sunlight and got sun burnt easily.
At the end of the twelve weeks, they took the women to a lab to sit under UV lamps and found that of those who consumed the daily 55 grams of tomato paste had 30% more protection against the UV rays than those who consumed no tomato paste, so not only can tomatoes help your heart, they can also help give you a great all over tan.
Top tips for keeping your heart healthy!
Top Tips for Beating a Heart Attack!
- Stop smoking!
- Reduce stress. Change your job if need be, you work to live, not to kill yourself. Analyze your relationships, clear out the dead wood.
- Eat a balanced diet, plenty of fiber and fresh veg and fruit. Reduce sugar intake to a minimum and stop drinking sugary carbonated drink.
- Eat plenty of tomatoes or other foods high in lycopene such as watermelon. Studies have shown that the body absorbs a higher percentage of lycopene from processed sources such as tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. The body also absorbs more lycopene when the food has been thoroughly heated. i.e. tomato soup, homemade bolognaise sauce (shop purchased sauces can be sky high in sugars, so always read the label!)
- Exercise regularly. Even if it is only getting out for a walk for ten minutes a day, make sure you do it. Regular exercise has shown to be a factor in reducing deaths from almost every disease. Getting out into areas that are rich in greenery and animal and plant life has also been shown to greatly reduce the incidence and impact of depression.
So, back to my health problems. After reading up on tomatoes I decided to introduce far more of them into my diet. I started my day, every day with tinned tomatoes (processed tomatoes such as tinned or tomato paste have a higher concentration of the magical lycopene in them) and always had some fresh tomatoes included in my evening meal.
After six months I went to my doctors to get my cholesterol level checked, it had dropped from 7.5 to 5.5, a huge drop. The target was to get the cholesterol reading under 5, so I was well on the way.
Feeling buoyed by the drop I continued consuming tomatoes religiously every day.
Six months later and time for another blood test and my level of Cholesterol had dropped to 4.5 and at the time of that test, my doctor noted that the level of good cholesterol was very high, which is also believed to be a result of the lycopene in tomatoes.
My cholesterol level has now dropped down to 4 and has stayed at that level for the last few years without showing signs of rising again. I have even been less strict with my diet, having a few more treats but continuing with the tomato regime.
Over the last three years I have been healthier than ever and have suffered no more chest pains.
I also am very sensitive to the sun. This summer on the hottest day of the year I fell asleep in my garden with just my shorts on in direct sunlight. Waking up four hours later my skin was red and very sore. I expected to be burnt for a long time and then my skin to start peeling mercilessly, as had happened every other time in my life when I had been burnt by the sun.
However, that didn’t happen, my skin healed quickly, I didn’t peel, in fact my skin turned a lovely golden brown quickly afterwards and my tan has stayed in place all summer.
I couldn’t believe it. Had tomatoes really just helped me avoid a heart attack and given me a great all over tan?
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
- BBC - Science & Nature - Tomatoes and Skin Protection
Tomatoes and skin protection
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Mr Bueno (author) from Cambridge, UK on October 31, 2018:
It is a shame that so many people suffer with these disorders. I think there are many people that care as we have access to so much great research on the subject these days, however, we have more people than ever before suffering from the effects of poor diet. Whatever the external factors exacerbating this situation, it is down to us all as individuals to educate ourselves in order to live as healthy and happily as we can for the longest period possible without becoming a burden on ourselves or others.
Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on October 31, 2018:
Heart disease kills and disables countless people every single day but nobody seems to care until it's too late. That's why this info is important to us all.