Black Seed Oil

What is black seed oil?

The black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella Sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. It goes by many names including:

  • Black cumin seed oil
  • Kalonji oil
  • Nigella sativa oil

You may be familiar with the Nigella seed that you can find in the spice isle in your local supermarket. Nigella seeds are often used as a popular ingredient in middle eastern and Indian cuisine. The key part of the plant that you get all the benefits from is thymoquinone which has high antioxidant properties.

Black seed oil has been used for centuries in food, medicine and even cosmetics.

Nigella Sativa

The Taste

Black seed oil has a strong a bitter taste. To avoid this harsh taste, you can dilute with water, sugar or agave.

Where To Buy

You can purchase black seed oil in most health food stores. I bought mine on Amazon and I’m very impressed. As you can see in the link, I purchased the oil, but you can also but it in capsule form, lotions, makeup and all sorts of beauty products.

Black Seed Oil

Benefits of black seed oil

  • Weight loss

In many parts of the work black Nigella sativa seeds are used as traditional medicine for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

An 8-week study conducted on obese people showed the individuals taking black seed oil had a reduced waist circumference, less body fat and overall weight loss.

  • Eczema, Acne and Psoriasis

Black seed oil has been shown to be just as effective as Benzoyl – a common medication for skin related diseases.

Black seed oil has been used since the times of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. This was a secret remedy that gave her radiant skin.

  • Cancer

A study conducted on rats has shows that black seed oil can shrink tumors as well as protect tissues from radiation damage.

  • Infertility

Studies in both men and rats have shown to increase sperm count and increase speed at which the sperm can swim. Antioxidants in the black seed oil is likely responsible for protecting the sperm from damage.

  • Allergies

If you place tiny oil drops in the nose these daily this can assist with the cure to Hay Fever.

Side effects and risks

  • Slows Blood Clotting

Black seed oil can increase drowsiness, lower blood sugar and slow down blood clotting. If going for surgery, it is probably best to avoid black seed oil during this time as it may increase the risk of bleeding. Best advice would be to stop taking it at least two weeks prior to your surgery.

  • Prescription medication

Always check with a doctor if you are taking some form of medication as you never know if there could be a negative effect to you. Specifically watch out for beta-blockers and blood thinners.

  • Upset stomach

Too much black seed oil can cause the laxative effect. This can be very uncomfortable and can cause severe diarrhea. This can be avoided by taking a small dose.

Personal Experience:

I have been using black seed oil for a few weeks now. I only have a quarter if a cap full mixed with a shot of water. I take it as a shot at any time in the day (whenever I remember to do so). My aim was to take it every day, but I quickly reduced this, explanation to come.

I don’t suffer from skin issues so I cannot vouch for the acne and spot healing properties that it has as I have only taken it orally.

The reason I immediately stopped taking black seed oil every day is that is it is a natural laxative. If you have constipation this would be an excellent cure, however if you have no issues in this area please beware. As I am already vegan and eat lots of natural wholefoods, fruits and vegetables I already consume more than the recommended amount of fiber so adding a laxative on top is a dangerous game. Just be weary if you don’t want to spend most of your day on the toilet. I decided to cut down to consuming just 2-3 times a week and that works perfectly for me.

A couple of times I’ve felt like I may be coming down with a cold or sore throat. I took black seed oil that evening and woke up feeling completely back to normal. Normally if I feel like I’m coming down with something the next day I feel awful. Even if you don’t want to take it every day, I recommend having some stored away for emergencies. I think taking a cap full before sleeping simple helped boost my immune system to help fight any virus or infection.

black caraway seeds nigella sativa

Top 10 Tips to Help you on your Vegan Journey

  1. Join Vegan Groups on Facebook

There are so many great support groups available on Facebook. These groups are full of thousands of people just like you who are going through just what you are. It’s like a small online community where you can ask questions on veganism, share recipes, and share your own advice. For someone starting out this is a great support network and I really learnt a lot.

Facebook pages that I can recommend are:

  • Veganuary
  • Vegan recipes for beginners
  • Vegan intermittent fasting for women
  • Sebi Alkaline and electric foods
  • Vegan beginners 101
  • Plant based eating
  • Keto vegan and vegetarian for beginners
  • Whole food plant based

VEGAN SUPPORT GROUP

  1. Buy a vegan cookbook or search recipes online

If you’re not into social media or simply want an alternative way to search for recipes you can do so online or buy a book. At the start people tend to focus on what they miss, maybe it’s the lack of chocolate cake and chicken nuggets making you want to go back to your original diet. A good way to get over those craving is to search a vegan recipe for what you already love. What I have learnt is there is next to nothing that doesn’t have a vegan alternative:

VEGAN RECIPE

  1. Watch documentaries to remind yourself why you are doing this

Everyone has hard days and food can be very comforting. It can seem a lot easier to go back to what you know and enjoy. When you change to do something new, this is a normal feeling, so don’t feel bad on yourself. The best thing you can do is educate yourself further on why you made this change initially.

Here are some documentaries that I have watched since becoming vegan. Please beware that the animal videos are particularly upsetting and not for the faint hearted. I really applaud the amazing people who took the time to make these as I can only imagine how awful it must have been. These documentaries spread awareness to people who have no idea what is going on and hopefully convert many people to veganism.

  • Dairy is Scary – YouTube
  • What the Health – Netflix
  • Cowspiracy – Netflix
  • Earthlings – YouTube
  • Dominion – YouTube

VEGAN DOCUMENTARY

  1. Don’t put pressure on yourself and give in to the pressure of others – this is your personal journey

I doubt any vegan woke up one morning and threw out everything that contained animals’ products in their house. I am not just speaking about food but also clothes, toiletries, makeup, furniture etc I just think this is unnecessary waste as you have already purchased the items and would be financially impractical (unless you have loads of money).

Whether you had planned to go vegan for month or if you suddenly decided overnight, this is your life and your decision, and you do this in the best possible way for you. Whatever you do, and however you’re doing it, the most important thing is that you’re making a difference. What matters is that your choices are protecting animals daily, protecting the planet and protecting your own body. You do not have to stop everything in one go.

I was able to cut the animal products in food straight away but in regard to clothing I am still learning – it’s not always as simple as avoiding leather products and there are so many glues and chemicals found in the items we purchase that are derived from animal products. All I can recommend is that you do things in your own time, as when you do, your setting yourself up for success. You will come across many people on the same journey as you but are most likely at completely different stages of the journey. Let’s all create a positive environment where we can share and help others.

PERSONAL jOURNEY

  1. Follow food pages on Instagram and Pinterest to make your supermarket shop easier

There are so many AMAZING vegan Instagram pages sharing a variety of options to help us. Loads of pages have great food inspiration, I’m sure we can now make anything all you have to type in is #VEGAN(FOOD TYPE) and thousands of recipes and videos will come up.

I also follow Accidentallyveganuk which has been an absolute life saver. This page reposts instastories and posts of others who have found accidently vegan products in the local UK supermarkets. This is so helpful as means you don’t need to trail though ingredients of every single product you find on the shelves. In my first month of turning vegan I went to Milan and was very worried about what I would be able to eat. Luckily it was easier than I thought but when I got to the airport, I had a couple of minutes to grab something before boarding the plane. Luckily, I spotted Oreos which had been featured on accidentallyveganuk so I immediately knew they were vegan and could quickly buy them.

VEGAN SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Look at the menu in advance before booking a restaurant

When I get invited out to a restaurant the first thing, I do is check their online menu. Some restaurants don’t label their options clearly with VG so in that case it’s best to email in advance. There are very few places I have been unable to attend as I can normally find at least one option or put together some sides to create a main. The only time I’ve had difficulty is with set menu’s such as brunches, I normally am unable to get my monies worth as I can only eat one item. I am positive that within time restaurants will improve this.

VEGAN RESTAURANT

  1. Don’t assume that you will automatically be healthier if you go vegan

I think back in the day; you probably wouldn’t have to work too hard to keep healthy and on top of your weight as there used to be hardly any vegan options. Vegans would mainly only have wholefoods, fruits and vegetables as an option – so vegan = top of your health game. Nowadays, I am not complaining, but there are so many options and many of these options consist of vegan junk food. In my first month of going vegan I put on weight trying all the delicious junk food options and going to all these cool trendy restaurants. I have reigned it in now and focus a lot more on a healthy balanced diet. It’s just great to know that you have similar options as everyone else now.

VEGAN JUNK FOOD

  1. Your taste buds and craving will change

Obviously, if you have been eating meat and dairy almost every day for 20 + years you will be used to the taste and go into withdrawal when you stop consuming it. This is normal, but just like anything else, (such as getting up early or going to the gym), you must be determined to achieve what you set yourself out to do.

Most people struggle with cheese as this is highly addictive. More so than most of you probably realise. There are scientific studies that have proven that cheese can trigger the same parts of the brain as hard drugs – no surprise there then that you can’t stop thinking about those mozzarella sticks.

My answer to this is, where there is a will there is a way, and there are always lots of lovely dairy alternatives. I was very impressed with Papa John’s vegan pizzas and pizza express. Just because you’re vegan it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice once loved foods from your diet completely.

VEGAN EDUCATION

  1. Educate yourself

As you learn more you tend to get less shocked about things that contain animal products and realise how essential it is to read the ingredients on any new items you find. Never Assume its vegan. Here are some of the items that contain animal products that shocked me:

  • Wine – Some wine companies use animal products like egg whites, fish bladder and gelatine to filter their liquids – Gross
  • Beer – same as above goes for beer companies – eww
  • Bloody Mary cocktails – this cocktail weirdly often contains anchovies. How unappetising.
  • Salted Peanuts – many packeted salted peanut brands contain milk powder.
  • Crisps – again milk powder
  • Lactose free almond cheeses – despite the lactose free that probably attracted you in the first place, this product can often contain casein which is a cow’s milk protein.
  • Sugar – some white sugar is bleached with bone char – yuk
  • Vitamin D3 (a common food additive) – this food additive is made with a substance derived from sheep’s wool.

EDUCATION

  1. Take and research into supplements to ensure you get a varied and balanced diet

As I have a thyroid problem, I regularly get blood tests, and this highlights any deficiencies I may have. It has been highlighted (before going vegan) that I have lower calcium than most people. I take one calcium tablet daily along with Lysine to ensure that my calcium levels remain up where they should. The lysine helps facilitate the transportation of the calcium into the muscles. Many people assume that I have a calcium deficiency because I don’t drink milk – this couldn’t be further from the truth as calcium is added to plant-based milks anyway and often in high doses. There are studies that have proved that those who consume dairy have weaker bones than those who don’t – I bet that surprised you.

Two weeks after my vegan transition I noticed that I felt extremely tired, it was suggested that this could be due to a lack of B12, so I went out to purchase a B-Complex multivitamin and within a few days felt much better. I take a mixed B vitamin supplement which consists of a mix of B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. You can also try and get additional B12 naturally but eating marmite and nutritional yeast.

VEGAN SUPPLEMENTS

I hope this list helps you on your vegan journey.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx

Veganuary – living 6 days on a vegan diet

veganuary

Before everyone starts ranting and raving about what defines vegan, I am not living the complete vegan lifestyle which I know includes involves living a completely cruelty free lifestyle. I am purely testing out the health benefits from the vegan diet – food and drink only here.

As you can see from my blog, I am very into health and fitness and diet has always been very important to me. Saying that, I often indulge in meat, fish and dairy daily. In fact, I don’t think there are many days at all that I have been without all these food groups until now of course.

This has been a challenge and a bit of a shock to the system, but all is well so far and I’m even enjoying it.

First things first – essential preparation:

  • State of mind

You must be mentally ready to start this diet just as you do with any diet. They always say that starting something on a Monday or first of the month means it’s more likely that you will stick to it. I started on Saturday the 5th of January and enjoyed a Domino’s pizza on the 1st of Jan (don’t judge me).

  • Education

Before starting what some people might think of as an extreme diet, education is the key! I encourage you to read books, search the internet or pick up a magazine and understand what you are getting yourself into. Learn about the benefits to health and the environment and any negative impacts. There are some good documentaries on Netflix, I watched ‘What the Health’ and ‘Cowspiracy’.

  • The food shop

I decided I can’t go into this without having all the tools to help me. The last thing you want is to be starving and have nothing tasty that you can eat. This will just set you up to fail and you will immediately start eating what you were before or become ill.

I did my food shop in my local Tesco, now after speaking to other Vegans it is probably the worst choice in supermarket for vegan products. People keep recommending Sainsbury’s, so I’ll give that a go on my next shop.

What I bought:

  • Pomegranate
  • Red cabbage
  • Beet root
  • Tesco Free From Vegan Cheese
  • Jus-Rol vegan puff pastry
  • Linda McCartney 2 deep dish country pies
  • Strong Roots Spinach and Pumpkin Burgers
  • 5 Alpro Go On Mango Yogurt Alternative
  • Oat milk
  • Miso Soup

Total – Just under £20

The trick is to prepare your meals in advance. Know what you have in your cupboards and if you may need to pop to the shops before you get home. Make enough dinner so that you can take the left over for dinner the next day. As the world is learning more about veganism more places are accommodating for the diet. I have been able to find some lovely lunches to buy at work but that may be because I’m based in central London where you can find anything. Itsu is one of my faves with an extensive vegan range to choose from, and just to make it easier its about 20 meters from my office.

I made an absolutely delicious cauliflower tabbouleh, roast sweet  potato and spicy red kidney bean dish featured in the image below. Yum to mindful eating!

vegan dinner

If you love eating out and live in the London area check out vegan restaurant Mildred’s, they even have a bottomless brunch! Have a read of my review for more information.

Today is my 6th day as a vegan and I’m feeling fine and I can carry out the same activities as before.

Negatives

  • Bloated

Day 3 was the worst for me. I put on my gym leggings and I can honestly say I looked pregnant. I think it’s just due to my body getting used to me drinking triple the amount of water that I’m used to and 1 million vegetables. It’s a change to the body so I’m hoping over time this will go away and ill be back to normal. Many people say that they are less bloated, I guess this is just a great example of everyone being different and having a unique experience.

  • Tired

I was feeling very tired and lazy with no motivation to do anything. Now this could be to do with the change in diet, but you also must bear in mind that I have only just returned to work after almost two weeks of eating and doing nothing over Christmas. It could just as easily be the change in routine or both. As I read that the vegan diet can make you feel sluggish due to the lack of B vitamins found in meat I decided to buy a supplement. I went to Holland and Barrett’s and bought Nature’s Way ALIVE! B-complex. They are soft jell multi-vitamins including vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. They claim to help your energy release, boost vitamin C and reduce tiredness and fatigue. They taste like low sugar gummy bears and are of course vegan. I’ve been taking these for the last couple of days and I feel much better.

alive vegan b vitamin supplements

If you want to try the vegan diet I recommend stocking up on these. As mentioned, you can get them in Holland and Barrett’s for £14.99 and currently they have a sale buy 1 get one for 1 p – excellent deal.

If you don’t live close to Holland and Barrett, you can also find these on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Positives

  • No cravings for meat

I can honestly say I have not once felt this dying need to eat any kind of meat. I do think about steak from time to time, but I never really ate it apart form when I went to a restaurant anyway. I now have the option to select things that I wouldn’t normally be interested in and learn many new recipes and flavours.

  • No stuffed feeling after a meal, even an extremely large one

Normally I don’t eat between the hours of 1 pm-8 pm as after lunch I don’t have a snack, I travel home from work and go straight to the gym. By the time I’ve showered and prepared for the next day its 8pm and dinner time. By this time, I am starving and eat a huge dinner of everything I can get my hands on. Usually after this I am stuffed! This very full feeling is something we are accustomed to and I didn’t even notice it until I had the absence of it. I’ve still been eating in the same pattern, but I suppose my food just digests easier and quicker.

  • Trying new recipes and foods

I find it so much fun browsing the supermarkets for unusual healthy products and finding ways to incorporate them into my diet. I love cooking and looking up new recipes, so it has been great for me so far. I’ve had the opportunity to book new restaurants – Tell Your Friends (blog post coming soon) and new recipe book – Joe Wicks Veggie Meals with Workouts. It’s all exciting stuff in the name of health.

  • Cheaper

6 days on and I still haven’t had to return to the supermarket. You can season vegetables just as you would meat, so you still get loads of variation. Vegetables are cheaper than meat in general which makes for a healthy, ethical and money saving lifestyle.

This week I’ve managed to burn 1700 calories in two gym sessions so as you can tell my fitness isn’t deteriorating. I still feel able to get enough energy together for a solid workout.

You can buy vegan products in all the supermarkets:

  • Tesco – increased range for Veganuary
  • Sainsburys – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Asda – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Morrisons – clearly labelling all its own brand products that are vegan
  • Waitrose – has a dedicated vegan section
  • Iceland – dedicated vegan freezer section
  • Marks and Spencer – increased range for Veganuary

 

You can sign up to receive a free meal plan from the official Veganuary site here – https://veganuary.com/

I recommend purchasing the Joe Wicks Vegetarian cook book and substituting any non-vegan products. You can buy that bye CLICKING HERE.

As you know from my other blog posts I highly recommend all the Joe Wicks range. It has really helped me with quick and easy recipes that cater for vegans. He also creates recipes where all the ingredients are easy to find in the local supermarket. If you’re looking for quick easy recipes and a bit of veggie inspiration, look no further.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Veganuary as much as I am.

 

Insta @keziakco

xxx

Is fish healthy?

We know there are so many positive things about incorporating fish into your diet:

  • Lean protein
  • Lighter food option
  • Omega 3
  • Lower in fat than any other source of animal protein

deep sea fish

There are also some negatives that you need to be aware of. I have made a list of fish to avoid and the reasons why:

Fish you should never eat:

  • Chilean Seabass

I was quite sad to find out this fish should be avoided as it is one of my favourites. It has very high mercury levels.

  • Farmed Salmon

Just to gross you out, the fish feed that is fed to these farmed salmon consists of chicken, duck and pig feces. This alone could be the reason why farmed salmon has 10 times the amount of cancer causing pollutants in comparison to the wild salmon. ALWAYS go for the wild option!

If that isn’t enough to put you off, the waters that these farmed salmon reside in are also often filled with pesticides, feces, bacteria and parasites.

A study where mice where fed farmed salmon showed weight gain and diabetes so if I were you I would stay well away.

You can easily tell if the salmon you buy is farmed or not by the colour:

wild vs farmed salmon

  • Catfish

Catfish might not be the most common item on the menu but it is growing in popularity. Beware as this is one of the dirtiest items on the menu as about 80% of it contains the bacteria responsible for food poisoning. Farmed catfish are also treated with antibiotics, pesticides and disinfectants so when consumed by us these drugs get into our system as well.

  • Imported farmed Shrimp

Most imported shrimp – about 90% is treated with a high oestrogen containing food additive. This increases the risk of breast cancer in women and reduces sperm count in men.

The shrimp pond waters are often treated with cancer causing pesticides and another linked with ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna

This is a large deep sea predatory fish that has very high levels of mercury so is best avoided. Mercury can cause neurological issues and has been linked with individuals getting symptoms of an uncontrollable tremor, numbness or pain in certain parts of the skin.

  • Swordfish

Swordfish is also a large predatory fish that contains high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • King and Spanish Mackerel

King and Spanish mackerel also contain high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • Grouper

Grouper, again has high levels of mercury.

  • Tilapia

Apparently eating tilapia is as bad as eating bacon and worse than eating a hamburger but recent studies have found that eating this type of farmed fish can increase the risk of inflammatory disease.

This are the reasons specifically associated to health. However, there are many other reasons to avoid the fish mentioned above. These include the following:

  • Extinction due to heavy fishing
  • Disturbing the natural food web
  • Reducing species
  • Farming is destroying river life and wetlands
  • Some fish is sourced from locations where unsustainable fishing practices are common
  • Imported fish is associated with a slavery network in Thailand

If you are concerned about the environment these fish should also be avoided but they do not pose as a health risk:

  • Atlantic cod
  • Atlantic flatfish
  • Caviar
  • Eel
  • Imported king crab
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Sturgeon

Not to worry, there are some fish types that are fine for you to eat and benefit your health, please see the list below:

Healthy fish options:

  • Wild caught Alaskan salmon
  • Pacific sardines
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Black cod

black cod

These fish are all farmed sustainably and contain far less contaminates. When you add these fish into your diet you will gain higher levels of omega 3 which is great for your health.

I hope I haven’t completely put you off from eating fish as I have also mentioned the great benefits it has. However, if you are put off and fish just isn’t for you any more you can still have fish oil supplements so that you don’t  miss out on the omega 3. The oils are taken from both fish caught for human consumption but also animal consumption. Please do make sure to only buy capsules made from purified fish oil or you may be exposed to contaminates.

It is not always immediately obvious as to which fish oil is purified so I have create a small list of recommended brands:

Benefits of Omega 3:

  • Fights depression and anxiety
  • Improves eye health
  • Connected with promoting brain health during pregnancy and early life
  • Improves risk factors for heart health
  • Reduces symptoms of ADHD in children
  • Reduces symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • Fights and reduce inflammation
  • Fights autoimmune disease
  • Improves mental disorders
  • Fights age related mental decline including Alzheimer’s
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Reduces Asthma
  • Reduces fat content in the liver
  • Alleviate menstrual pain
  • Improves sleep
  • Good for your skin

Are you sold yet? I am!

omega 3

If you are vegan or vegetarian and fish and capsules wont work for you, fear not as you can get Omega 3 from other sources including:

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat germ

However, they are not quite as good as the omega 3 found in fish.

Instagram @Keziakco

xxx

Fitness supplements – what are they and what do I buy?

A friend of mine asked me to write my next blog on fitness supplements and of course, I said ‘yeah sure’. When I came to write this, I didn’t know what the exact definition of a fitness supplement was. Does this include protein powder, vitamins or just things associated with fitness professionals like creatine and BCAAs? Let’s find out.

On further research the internet has broken these supplements into various categories:

  • Protein supplements
  • Dietary supplements
  • Pre-Workout supplements
  • Sports supplements
  • Bodybuilding supplements

The definition of a supplement is as follows:

A thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.

Therefore, a fitness supplement includes all of the above and is designed to support whatever you are trying to achieve within your fitness goal.

This should already help you when shopping for fitness supplements. For example, if you’re struggling with getting enough protein into your diet you know you should look for protein supplements. If you lack energy and motivation before a workout you know to search for pre-workout supplements etc.

I strongly believe in going for the most natural approach as possible. I don’t think its good practise to fill your body full of things that you are unfamiliar with. Just because they claim to do amazing things on the pack doesn’t mean they do and you need to educate yourself on what you consume before doing so.

These are the supplements in my cupboard:

  • Protein powder – to get extra protein in my diet
  • BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids) – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They help with maintaining and creating muscle.
  • Lysine tablets – helps the body to absorb calcium and build muscle. *
  • Calcium tablets – to strengthen my teeth and bones. *

* Both Lysine and calcium together help with the production of collagen in the body which is good for skin and looking younger. It increases bone strength and density and build muscle.

So out of the million fitness supplement options to choose from I’ve whittled it down to just 4 things. As you would have noticed I don’t use pre-workout. I find that they are very synthetic and have an extremely high caffeine content that is not entirely necessary. Also, it can’t be healthy having a huge dose of caffeine and then increasing your heart rate further when working out – just saying. Another thing that puts me off is the huge list of chemical ingredients. I don’t know what they all are so when in doubt best not to have it in my opinion. Normally I don’t actually find a need to get additional energy before the gym and I wouldn’t want my body to get used to the extra boost and rely on this before every gym session. However, if I am exhausted and severely lacking energy I would either have a black coffee or espresso or alternatively make myself a matcha latte. I use the natural ground matcha that can be bought on Amazon – click here.

Fitness supplements

Match is extremely healthy and also very tasty. The latte tastes sweet but you can add some sweetener or agave syrup to sweeten and it will taste just like the ice cream (if you’ve ever tried it).

Matcha latte

Steps to making a matcha Latte:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon matcha Powder
  • 1 cup of milk (almond, cashew, oat, skimmed, soya – your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup

Steps:

  1. Poor cup of selected milk into saucepan
  2. Add one teaspoon on matcha powder
  3. Add one teaspoon of agave syrup
  4. Heat until boiling and serve

And the result should look like this:

What I use to boost my health - matcha

There are so many variations in the way that you can make a matcha latte. Here is some inspiration of pictures I took from Instagram:

There are so many fitness supplements out there, here is a list of others you can explore in your own time as these might work better for you and your personal goal:

  • Fat burners
  • Creatine
  • Casein
  • Multivitamins
  • Fish oil capsules

This selection of fitness supplements work for me and for what I’m trying to achieve but everyone is different. I suggest try things and see how they work for you. Remember less is more and always try to find a natural alternative if you can.

What fitness supplements do you use?

Instagram – @keziakco

xxx

October is Cholesterol Month – a guide on cholesterol health including where to check your cholesterol level and where to get your cholesterol tested

What is cholesterol?

There are two type:

HDL (high density lipoprotein), this one is often associated with good cholesterol as it is protective.

LDL (low density lipoprotein), this one is often associated with bad cholesterol as it blocks your arteries.

Do you actually need cholesterol?

Cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D, some hormones and bile but too much of it in our bodies can be extremely dangerous. Cholesterol is labelled as the silent killer so awareness is crucial.

Signs of high cholesterol

You can have high cholesterol and experience no signs at all hence the name – the silent killer. That is why I urge you to get yours checked so something can be done before it’s too late. There are some signs you can look out for:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart burn
  • Angina
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Pain whilst walking

As you can see these are extreme symptoms and you wouldn’t want it to get to this before diagnosing the issue

Find out more on cholesterol symptoms, causes and treatments in the link. Stay woke.

Check your cholesterol level

Many people will ask the question how do I check my cholesterol level? What is the normal cholesterol level? And can I check my cholesterol level at home?

How do I check my cholesterol level?

You can start by booking an appointment with your local GP and they can advise you accordingly.

There are also home test kits designed for checking your cholesterol level. You can pick these up from your local pharmacy such as Boots.

Please find some suggested links here:

Boots home test kit

Lloyds Pharmacy home test kit

Amazon home test kit

What is the normal cholesterol level?

Please see the test results described below:

The lower your cholesterol ratio is the better. To work this out (total cholesterol / HDL cholesterol). The result should be below 4:1

A cholesterol level of 6 and above is considered ‘high risk’. If you do a home kit and get this result book an appointment with your GP to get further advice.

NHS recommended cholesterol level:

Adult

Total Cholesterol 5mmol/L or less
Non HDL Cholesterol 4mmol/L or less
LDL Cholesterol 3mmol/L or less
HDL Cholesterol 1mmol/L or less

My cholesterol Results:

So I went and bought a test form Amazon – the CARE diagnostica Cholesterol Health Care Test as seen below. This cost £12.99 from Amazon.

Test your cholesterol level from home

The kit comes with a lancet, plaster, the test wheel and instruction booklet as seen below:

cholesterol health care test

I carefully read the instruction manual before completing the test. Please note the test is only accurate if you have fasted for 12 hours prior to doing the test and the test is best read in day light. Please see instruction manual below:

cholesterol kit

Cholesterol test instructions

You now need to open the cholesterol wheel where you find a round circle. This is where the blood will go when you prick your finger. Now for the tricky part, you need to prepare the lancet and place it on your finger. When in the correct position you must press down and there should be a little bubble of blood that you dab onto the wheel. In my case I found it really difficult to prick my own finger and have this automatic response to pull my finger away. unfortunately there was very little blood and not enough for the test.

Self testing cholesterol kit, how how to do it at home

The circle above should really be full with blood and I just couldn’t do it to myself. I think the test itself needs to be better adapted for this as once you press the button on the lancet the mechanism is done. There is no option for a retry so that is basically £12.99 down the drain.

I never got to find out my results as there wasn’t enough blood so the test just remained red as you can see above. In an ideal situation it should change a shade of green to match the wheel giving you an indication of your cholesterol level.

After going through this ordeal to find out my cholesterol level and being unsuccessful I wasn’t going to give up just yet. I booked an appointment at the GP and was able to find out I have a healthy cholesterol level of 3.1.

If you don’t like the doctors or simply don’t have time I found these great Easy Cholesterol Test Strips. The great thing about them is that you get 10 if you mess up like I did and they are a lot cheaper £19.99 for 10.

The best method at keeping your cholesterol levels under control is to make a cholesterol diet sheet.

Foods that lower cholesterol:

  • Wholegrain
  • Bran
  • Oats
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Flax
  • Nuts

Food to avoid as they increase your cholesterol:

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Margarine
  • Lard
  • Fatty meats
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut cream
  • Palm oil

Healthy food swaps to lower cholesterol levels can be found on Heart UK website with a load of other useful information.

If you are looking for cholesterol-friendly recipe inspiration, look no further. This is a dish I eat regularly that is great for your health and keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level:

Vegetarian Low cholesterol recipe (serves 4) – Garlic and Herb Freekeh

  • Ingredients:
  • 200g Freekeh
  • 175g Frozen peas
  • 6 tbsp Garlic oil
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Handful of herbs – mint parsley chives

Method

  1. Boil the freekeh
  2. After 15 minutes add the frozen peas and leave to boil for an addition 5 minutes.
  3. Finely chop the herbs.
  4. Drain the water and add contents to a mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Now you can enjoy a lovely healthy vegetarian low cholesterol meal 🙂

low cholesterol recipe - freekeh

 

If you enjoyed the recipe and are serious about lowering your cholesterol there is a great cook book dedicated to just that. Eat Your Way To A Lower Cholesterol will keep you inspired and claims to reduce cholesterol level by 20% in just three months.

To increase your knowledge and awareness of National Cholesterol Month please take a look at the UK Heart website.

Please make a donation to Heart UK to keep supporting the amazing work they do.

Click the link to DONATE HERE.

national cholesterol month

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xxx