Many people prefer to turn to foods that help lower cholesterol instead of medications, considering their unwanted and unpleasant side effects.
The main foods that help lower cholesterol are without a doubt fruits and vegetables, mainly because of their vitamin C and E content and other antioxidant compounds.
Vitamin C contained in fruits and
vegetables combats cholesterol in two important ways: it acts as a
bodyguard for HDL cholesterol that cleanse your arteries of the 'bad'
LDL cholesterol and, along with vitamin E, blocks transformation of LDL
cholesterol that destroys arteries.
According to Dr. Judith Hallfrisch of the National Institute of Health, men and women who ate 180 milligrams of vitamin C a day (the amount found in one cup of strawberries plus one cup of broccoli) had 11% higher HDLs than those who ate one third as much vitamin C. One theory is that vitamin C protects HDLs from attack and destruction by rampaging oxygen free radicals.
To understand how vital vitamin C and E are, you have only to consider the arteries of experimental monkeys that Anthony J. Verlangieri, Ph.D, studied for six years at the University of Mississipi's Atherosclerosis Research Laboratory.
When he fed them lard and cholesterol and very little vitamin C and E, the arteries became severely damaged and clogged.
But he was able to block the arterial deterioration and even reverse it by adding vitamin C and E to the high-fat diet.
For example, fat-fed monkeys that got the vitamins had only 1/3 of the artery blockage.
More startling, feeding monkeys relatively low doses of the vitamins for a couple of years actually reversed the arterial blockage by 8 to 33%!
you imagine what would happen if you included other foods that help
lower cholesterol in your diet and reduced the saturated fat intake at
the same time? Well, enough said...
The antioxidant vitamins work, say experts, by zapping oxygen free radicals that otherwise would turn LDL cholesterol toxic and dangerous.
It doesn't take much to mount a defense, says Harvard researcher Balz Frei, Ph.D, but a mere 160 mg. of vitamin C a day - a couple of large oranges - gives body tissues enough ammunition to block free radicals and cripple LDL's ability to infiltrate arteries.
Please note that this is almost three time the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (around 60 mg) and it goes to show that for optimum nutrition and to reverse the damaging effects of a bad diet, the recommended amount of vitamin C is not enough, so you should include plenty of foods that help lower cholesterol, especially fruits and vegetables.
Apples and other foods high in a soluble fibre called pectin are amongst the foods that help lower cholesterol.
French researchers had a goup of middle-aged healthy men and women add two or three apples a day to their ordinary diet for a month.
LDL choleserol fell in 80% of them - and by more than 10% in half of them. Good HDL cholesterol also went up. Interestingly, the apples had a greater impact on women. One woman's cholesterol plunged by 30%.
Similarly, David Gee, Ph.D., at Central Washington University, tested high fibre apple slush left over from making apple juice. He had the apple fibre baked into cookies. When 26 men with faily high cholesterol ate three apple cookies a day, instead of a placebo cookie, their cholesterol dipped an average 7%. Each apple cookie had 15 grams of fibre - the amount in four or five apples, he says.
Most expert mainly credit pectin in apples, the same stuff used in jelly to make it jell, with lowering cholesterol, although other apple componenets also play a part. As Dr. David Kritchevsky of the Wista Institute in Philadelphia points out, a whole apple lowers cholesterol more than its pectin content predicts, so something else is at work here that they haven't quite figured out yet.
Carrots, too, are amongst the foods that help lower cholesterol also because of their high soluble fibre content.
Dr Philip Pfeffer, Ph.D, calculates that the fibre in a couple of carrots a day can lower cholesterol by 10 to 20%, which would bring many people with moderately high cholesterol into the normal range.
After he started eating a couple of carrots a day, his own blood cholesterol dived around 20%.
A Canadian test found that men who ate about two and a half raw carrots every day saw their cholesterol sink an average 11%. According to a German study, the amount of beta carotene in one or two carrots also boosted good HDLs significantly.
The carrot fibre remains therapeutic whether the carrots are raw, cooked, frozen, canned, chopped or liquefied, says Dr. Pfeffer.
Grapefruits are amongst the foods that help lower cholesterol.
They contain a unique type of soluble fibre called galacturonic acid, that not only helps lower 'bad' cholesterol, but may help dissolve or reverse plaque already clogging your arteries.
In one study by Dr. James Cerda, professor of gastroenterology at the University of Florida, the grapefruit fibre found in about two and a half grapefruit segments eaten every day lowered blood cholesterol about 10% and he noted that the grapefruit compound actually resulted in less diseased and narrowed arteries and aortas, somehow sweeping away some of the build-up plaque.
We've seen how important it is to eat foods that help lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol, but just as important it's to add foods that help raise 'good' HDL cholesterol and some of them are:
Caution: Very low-fat diets (10% or less of calories from fat) depress HDLs.
There's so much to say about foods that help lower cholesterol naturally so have a look at Page 2 for some more tips or...
...go to Causes of High Cholesterol
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