Which foods lower cholesterol and blood pressure?

I know I must cut down on saturated fats, but what about cholesterol in foods? 

Cholesterol has many roles in human health. For example, some hormones and bile acids are synthesized from cholesterol, and cholesterol is part of the cell wall. But your body makes all the cholesterol you need, so you do not need to get more from foods. Up to a point, cholesterol from foods does not alter your blood cholesterol, but above a certain level, in most people, it raises blood cholesterol. A few people can eat more, with no damage, but if you have heart disease, you must be extra careful.

Where is cholesterol found?

Cholesterol is found only in animal foods, and most often it is dissolved in the fat part of the food. If you decrease the amount of animal fat you eat, you decrease your cholesterol intake as well. As you know, two of the richest sources of cholesterol in foods are egg yolks (egg whites have no cholesterol) and liver (cholesterol is synthesized in the liver). You can eat low fat animal foods in moderation, such as nonfat or low fat yogurt, which contain almost no choles terol. Cholesterol in food is even worse for your health when eaten in combination with high saturated fats. Never eat whole eggs with food high in saturated fat like butter or breakfast meats.

How much daily cholesterol is okay?

Try not to consume more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol perday about one small egg yolk or 6 or 7 ounces of cooked beef, chicken, or pork. If you eat eggs, eat the white only (it is also a good protein source) and limit egg yolks to no more than two a week. Try to avoid liver altogether.

Are there foods that can lower cholesterol? 

Yes. Plants contain substances related to cholesterol called sterols, which, instead of raising blood cholesterol, actually lower it. Before modem cholesterol lowering drugs, there were medications available that used plant sterols to lower blood cholesterol. They work by decreasing the absorption from the intestine of the cholesterol present in animal foods.

The Most Powerful Foods That Will Lower Your Cholesterol (Quickly, Safely, & Naturally)

Foods high in plant sterols are 
• tree nuts and their products, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts.

• seeds and their products, such as sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; peas, peanuts, soybeans, kidney beans, and broad beans.

• olives and extra virgin unfiltered olive oil.

• wheat germ and whole wheat products, the germs of other grains, and rice bran.

A few margarines (Benecol, Take Control) are now available that are enriched with a modified form of plant sterols.

Are there other heart benefits from plant foods? 

The proteins in plants are much higher than animal proteins in an important amino acid one of the building blocks of proteins called arginine. Arginine relaxes the arteries and may help to lower cholesterol. Nuts, beans, whole grains, and soy products are high in arginine.

All natural plant foods are high in potassium and magnesium and low in sodium, which help in blood pressure control. Some foods like kale, collard greens, and broccoli are high in calcium, which is needed for proper heart function. This means you don’t have to count just on yogurt and other milk products for your calcium.

Should I make foods like whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables the foundation of my meal? 

Yes. Some very good studies have shown that when people move from countries where the diet is based on these kinds of foods to countries where the diet is based on meat and other animal products, and where plant foods play only a supporting role, the incidence of heart disease and some other chronic diseases like colon cancer increase. A classical example is that ofJapanese people moving from Japan to Hawaii with a moderate increase in heart disease, and then moving to the mainland of the United States with a major increase in heart disease. It has also been shown that when the highermeat diets of industrialized countries were adopted in less developed countries, the incidence of heart disease increased.


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