Diet and high cholesterol are not always thought of together but what you eat can affect your levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body does need cholesterol to build healthy cells, but as with so many other substances, too much of a good thing can become a problem.
High levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. When fatty deposits develop in your blood vessels it becomes difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke.
Phytochemicals & Phytosterols
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants. “Phyto” is from the Greek word for plant. They are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant foods and may provide desirable health benefits beyond basic nutrition to reduce the risk of major chronic diseases.
One natural substance that can help control cholesterol levels is phytosterols, or plant sterols. These phytochemicals are substances naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables.
According to many studies, phytochemicals significantly reduce the risk of cancer, most likely because of their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on our bodies. Recent Canadian research shows that phytosterol supplements can lower cholesterol levels, no matter what we eat.
Published in the journal Metabolism, the study found that even if we consume a high-cholesterol diet — one rich in fried foods, red meat, whole milk cheese and all the other goodies we’re supposed to avoid — and take our daily dose of phytosterols, our LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) will continue to drop.
This is good news for those of us who have heard or read about the dangerous side effects and lack of effectiveness of some of the cholesterol-lowering drugs. The study showed that cholesterol in our diet has no consequence on our cholesterol levels if we include enough of the right kind of fruits and vegetables.
The trouble with trying to get enough natural phytosterols in our diet without supplementation is two-fold:
- It is difficult for the average American to suddenly increase their intake of plant-based food , especially when it needs to be raw for maximum effect.
- Many of us have a serious cholesterol problem that needs to be addressed right away, and only supplementation plus a dietary change can lower our cholesterol levels fast enough.
You can deliver a one-two punch to high cholesterol by adding oats to your diet too. Breakfast cereals, oat breads and unsweetened oat-based desserts will do the trick.
Oats can also reduce inflammation and alleviate damage to the lining of your blood vessels. Eating oat-based foods on a regular basis can also help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity — all concerns for aging Americans looking for the right kind of anti-aging diet. Oats are unlike many other carbohydrates, because they help us feel satisfied and less hungry, and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels rather than crash them.
For the best results, get your blood tested. Then consult a qualified Nutrition Response Testing® practitioner and find out exactly what nutrients and whole food supplements your body needs to address any cholesterol issues. They can also coach you on your diet, so that you can lower your cholesterol levels with fresh whole food and supplements.