High cholesterol: Eating more carrots, nuts and artichokes could help lower your levels
High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
High cholesterol does not usually operate in isolation – the waxy substance is often accompanied by high blood pressure. Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure perform a similar function. They narrow and harden the arteries that supply blood to your heart. When this happens, the heart has to strain much harder to pump blood through them, thereby raising your risk of heart disease. Eating any these three foods could help to lower your levels.
Diet plays a key role in reducing high cholesterol and certain items have been touted for their cholesterol-lowering properties.
One such item belongs to the root vegetable family – carrots.
Intake of carrots has been linked to lower cholesterol levels in human and animal studies.
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In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate two hundred grams of raw carrot for breakfast each day for three weeks observed an 11 percent reduction in their serum cholesterol.
Serum cholesterol, otherwise known as total cholesterol, refers to the overall level of cholesterol in your blood.
The cholesterol-lowering effects are attributed to pectin – the main form of soluble fibre in carrots.
According to research, certain soluble fibres can impair the absorption of cholesterol from your digestive tract, thereby lowering blood cholesterol.
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In a study, published in JAMA, eating two to three servings of nuts per day decreased LDL cholesterol by an average of 10.2 mg/dl.
The cholesterol-lowering effect is partly attributed to the phytosterols found in nuts.
These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines.
A number of small studies have found that eating an almond-rich diet can reduce LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and oxidised LDL cholesterol, which is particularly harmful to heart health.
Artichokes have become a popular addition to dishes but extracts from the plant have also shown considerable promise in reducing harmful cholesterol levels.
A large review of over 700 people found that supplementing with artichoke leaf extract daily for five to 13 weeks led to a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol.
Total cholesterol refers to all the components that make up cholesterol, such as HDL and LDL.
Additionally, a study in 143 adults with high cholesterol showed that artichoke leaf extract taken daily for six weeks resulted in an 18.5 percent and 22.9 percent decrease in total and LDL cholesterol, respectively.
Dietician Helen Bond said: “Cholesterol can change quite quickly, which is why exercise and eating healthy should be embedded into your everyday routine.
“But we’re talking a few weeks, rather than days – the odd meal or day where you eat a bit more than usual (including too much saturated fat) won’t make a difference to your cholesterol levels in the long run, but if your healthy eating and exercise habits have totally gone out the window during the lockdown, this could have a big impact on your cholesterol levels and your weight.
“Therefore, if your habits have changed over lockdown, now’s the time to reinstate healthy eating habits and get daily exercise (within UK Government guidelines to stay active and stay safe) before those new overindulgences become a habit that’s hard to break.”
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