Natural foods that lower cholesterol
This is the second part on Cholesterol discussing 15 natural foods that lower cholesterol. If you did not have a chance to read the first part, enjoy it by clicking here.
1. Green tea
Tea is the world’s most popular and widely consumed beverage and has been shown to lower cholesterol.
There are three distinct classification of tea on the basis of manufacture; green tea, oolong tea and black tea.
Green tea is non-fermented and is a major beverage consumed in Asian countries, especially in China and Japan.
Oolong tea is a partially fermented type of tea, the production and consumption of which are confined to Mainland China and Taiwan.
Black tea generally refers to the fermented products, which are more popular in North America, Africa, India and Europe.
The compounds in tea that are responsible for lowering cholesterol are called catechins.
Green tea catechins are of high quality and are highly regarded in lowering cholesterol than the other two types of tea. This is because green tea receives minimal processing guaranteeing that all powerful chemicals remain unchanged.
Grapes have chemicals called polyphenols that give wine the red colour.
In France and other countries where there is high consumption of wine, there are low incidences of heart diseases despite high consumption of saturated fats.
This paradox, commonly known as French paradox has been attributed to the beneficial effect of polyphenols in wine against bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein).
3. Fermented milk
Mann and Sperry in 1974 were the first to report the cholesterol lowering effect of fermented milk in Kenya’s Maasai tribe. Thereafter, the cholesterol-lowering effect of fermented milk products has been demonstrated in rats, hamsters, and pigs.
Most human studies have confirmed cholesterol lowering effect of fermented milk thanks to live bacteria present in these products which are called probiotics.
4. Soybean protein
Health benefits of Soya beans are many with the ability to lower cholesterol being one of them. Many researchers including those from Nestle research centre have clearly demonstrated the ability of soy protein to lower cholesterol.
5. Buck wheat
Most people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain; it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is a good substitute to grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or glutens.
The buckwheat protein is the active ingredient responsible for cholesterol-lowering activity. It has been shown that buckwheat protein can lower cholesterol by up to 32%.
Apart from the odour it leaves in the mouth, garlic is highly praised for its medicinal and nutritional properties among them cholesterol-lowering power.
The chemical in garlic that is associated with cholesterol lowering action is allicin.
Fresh garlic has been shown to have profound effect in lowering total cholesterol whereas boiled garlic was less effective. Boiling garlic kills some of the active ingredients.
Aged garlic has been shown to reduce total cholesterol by 25% in rats fed with cholesterol rich diet.
7. Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice. Among other vegetable oils, rice bran oil is thought to be the most effective in lowering total cholesterol in the blood.
8. Hawthorn fruit
The hawthorn berries popularly known as shanzha have long history of their use as traditional medicine in China and Europe.
Zhang from University of Hong Kong fed three groups of rabbits a high-cholesterol diet supplemented with 2.0% hawthorn fruit powder and found that there was a whooping 23% reduction in blood total cholesterol.
Several algae that grow in the sea have been demonstrated to show capabilities of lowering cholesterol.
Dr. Bocanegra from university of Madrid published some work in 2006 and 2009 in the British Journal of Nutrition that showed that sea weeds lowered cholesterol in rats fed with high cholesterol diet.
10. Dietary fibre
Dietary fibre is not a particular food by itself but edible part of plants especially carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in small intestines.
Extensive research has shown that fibres play an important role in cholesterol metabolism by decreasing plasma total cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
Dietary fibre can be classified as soluble fibres and insoluble fibres, depending on their solubility in water. In general, most soluble fibres lower plasma total cholesterol more efficiently than water-insoluble fibres.
Most vegetables, whole grain cereals and fruits are rich in fiber.
11. Functional foods
These are not natural foods by themselves but commercial products fortified with active ingredients that lower cholesterol extracted from plants.
Most of these products are either spreads like margarine or yoghurt. They are incorporated with stanols or phytosterols from plants.
Consumption of fish has been shown to provide the much touted omega 3 fatty acids as well as lower cholesterol in the blood.
13. Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is fermented rice product. It is called Hongqumi in Chinese and Koji or Akakoji in Japan.
Red yeast rice develops the red colour when rice is cultivated with a certain type of mould. Red yeast rice is sold in China as a red colorant and as an ingredient in rice wine. For many years it has been used as drug that helps in blood circulation.
Oats commonly consumed as breakfast cereals are rich in fibre and are also known to lower cholesterol.
All pointers claim that nuts are good for health. In July 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim for nuts and heart disease prevention.
The claim states, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease’’.
Other nuts that are associated with benefits of improving heart health are walnuts and almonds. Actually a research carried out in Barcelona Spain and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed eating walnuts after a high-fat meal can protect your heart.