Healing Kitchen

High Cholesterol
The key to managing cholesterol levels is to eat more plant foods and to replace harmful fats with healthier fats, such as monounsaturated fat. Foods high in monounsaturated fat include olive and canola oil, avocados, almonds, and peanuts. There is growing evidence that plant protein, even outside of the fat factor, can lower cholesterol levels. Saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and dietary cholesterol are significant contributors to cholesterol levels and are commonly found in animal products and processed foods.

Many foods are linked to an improved cholesterol profile. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids including flaxseed oil, may protect against high cholesterol. Foods containing vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, pantethine (active form of vitamin B5--pantothenic acid), chromium, and copper may have cholesterol-lowering properties. Foods rich in lycopenes may be useful in moderating cholesterol levels.

There are also a number of individual foods that have proven to have cholesterol-lowering potential. Studies show that individuals who eat large amounts of both garlic and onions have lower cholesterol levels. Chili peppers, shiitake mushrooms, and artichokes have also been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. In a small study involving shiitake, healthy women who ate about 2/3 cup (approximately 3 oz) of fresh shiitake for a week experienced a drop in cholesterol by 9% to 12%. Carrots may lower cholesterol, possibly due to their calcium pectate (a soluble fiber) content. A recent government study showed a significant decrease in cholesterol among subjects who ate 1 cup of carrots per day. On average, participants experienced an 11% drop in blood cholesterol after only 3 weeks.

Soy products are also linked to reduced cholesterol because of their isoflavone content. The FDA recently approved a health claim label for soy products containing soy protein, which states that daily consumption of as little as 25 grams of soy protein per day has been shown to lower cholesterol in people who have high cholesterol levels.

Eating grapes may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, due in part to the flavonoid content of their skins. Orange juice, too, is high in flavonoids, and recent studies suggest that consuming approximately three glasses of orange juice a day may increase your HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels. Some orange juice products are also enriched with cholesterol-reducing fiber.

Finally, two new margarine-like spreads may improve cholesterol levels because they contain recently approved food additives that can reduce cholesterol levels. The spreads contain a base of vegetable oils similar to other margarines, but contain new ingredients--plant sterols and stanols. Plant sterol-based spreads are linked to the ability to lower total and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels without negatively affecting HDL levels. Studies suggest that the new spreads can lower LDL cholesterol by 7% to 14% when eaten every day for at least a year with a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and regular exercise.

Foods high in soluble fiber are very helpful in lowering cholesterol levels, especially LDL. Brown rice bran and oat bran are particularly useful. Breakfast is a great opportunity to bulk up on dietary fiber and studies indicate that skipping breakfast is significantly associated with high cholesterol levels. Consuming products, such as breakfast cereals, that contain soluble fiber from psyllium seeds may be a very effective way to control cholesterol levels. Combining a psyllium-enriched cereal with a whole-oat cereal may be an even more effective cholesterol-lowering strategy.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

Chromium helps to break down fats, so it may help lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol levels. Research suggests that vitamin C may help increase the body's absorption of chromium.
Leading Food Sources of chromium: Mushrooms, Nuts, Oysters, Beef

In a preliminary study involving 24 men, researchers found that a diet low in copper was linked to a significant increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of copper: Mushrooms, Lobster & crayfish, Oysters, Crab, Sunflower seeds

fiber, soluble
Foods that are high in soluble fiber are excellent sources of beta glucans, a substance that interferes with the absorption and production of cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of fiber, soluble: Carrots, Peas, fresh, Apples, Oats, Beans, dried, Barley

Flavonoids may inhibit the production of LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attack. This may be one reason why scientists recently found a significant health benefit for coronary heart disease among tea drinkers. In a recent study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers speculate that the high flavonoid content in tea may block the production of LDL cholesterol, conferring protection against cardiovascular disease.
Leading Food Sources of flavonoids: Broccoli, Grapefruit, white, Tomatoes, Limes, Chocolate, Soybeans, Oranges, Lemons, Apples, Onions, Blueberries, Carrots, Pomegranates

flaxseed oil
Several studies indicate that flaxseed oil, as well as ground flaxseeds, can lower cholesterol, thereby significantly reducing the risk of heart disease.
Leading Food Sources of flaxseed oil: Oil, flaxseed

Studies have shown that consuming garlic can have anti-athlerosclerotic effect due to naturally occurring substances, alliin and allicin. Garlic is also believed to interfere with the metabolism of cholesterol levels in the liver, and lowers the amount of cholesterol released into the bloodstream.
Leading Food Sources of garlic: Garlic

In a small clinical trial involving men who consumed lycopene over a period of 3 months, participants experienced a 14% drop in LDL cholesterol. Scientists propose that lycopene may interfere with the rate-limiting enzyme, HMGCoA reductase, in the body's synthesis of cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of lycopene: Tomatoes, Grapefruit, pink, Guava

omega-3 fatty acids
Epidemiologic studies demonstrate a link between lowered heart disease risk and omega-3 intake. Omega-3 fatty acids may be particularly protective against high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, Tuna, Trout

pantothenic acid
The body converts pantothenic acid (also known as vitamin B5) into a chemical called pantethine. When consumed, pantethine appears to lower the amount of lipids in the blood. A person with high cholesterol may lower their total cholesterol level?including LDL ("bad") cholesterol while also increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.
Leading Food Sources of pantothenic acid: Avocados, Mushrooms, Sunflower seeds, Salmon, Yogurt

soy isoflavones
Phytochemical isoflavones found in soy are believed to reduce damaging low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and total cholesterol levels,while also boosting heart-protective high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL). The richest source of soy isoflavones is powdered soy protein, followed by tempeh, tofu, and soy milk.
Leading Food Sources of soy isoflavones: Soybeans, Soy products, Tofu

vitamin C
By helping to protect LDL ("bad") cholesterol from oxidation, vitamin C may prevent plaque buildup in the coronary arteries. Vitamin C may also boost blood levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol; studies are ongoing to provide definitive evidence of this action. Vitamin C also enhances the effect of vitamin E, another antioxidant commonly taken to fight high cholesterol.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Strawberries, Kiwi fruit, Potatoes, Peppers, bell, red, Tangerines & other mandarins, Oranges

vitamin E
Vitamin E seems to prevent free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules) from damaging LDL cholesterol the first step in the buildup of coronary plaque.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin E: Broccoli, Avocados, Peanuts, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Almonds, Mangoes

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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