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An apple a day is an old saying that has some health merit to it. In a recent study, post-menopausal women who ate 2 apples daily (in dried apple form) saw total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol drop! With more than $15.5 BILLION spent on statin drugs in a year, apples seem like an economical choice, too.
For the women who ate 2 apples/day, in 6 months, total cholesterol dropped 13%, from 250 to 218. The harmful LDL-cholesterol lowered 24% (!!) from 160 down to 132.
Why do apples seem to be fabulous for cholesterol reduction?
Apples, apples, apples….
In the U.S., 81million adults have cardiovascular disease, and over 800,000 die from this disease. Reducing cholesterol is one tool to lower risk. And a diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts – all sources of dietary fiber – seem to be a health (and economical) way to get a handle on this disease.
Every health organization in this country recommends that we eat our fruits and vegetables every day – just like our mothers used to suggest when we were growing up. In a study of over 8,000 adults, very few were eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables – and therefore, missing protective substances called phytonutrients.
Carotenoids are a large group of phytonutrients including
The carotenoids are found in colorful produce such as carrots, pumpkin, yams; tomatoes and watermelon; and spinach.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that may provide anti-inflammatory protection, thus reducing our risk for developing heart disease and cancer. They’re found in grapes, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, orange juice, oranges, lemons, limes, apples, tea and onions.
Phenols are phytonutrients that may protect cell integrity, reducing risk for cancer. Phenols are prevalent in strawberries, raspberries, apples, walnuts, and pecans.
From this study, the folks who ate more fruits and vegetables had more physical activity in their day – so overall, they seem to be more concerned about their heath. And older adults, as well as women, were more likely to get in the suggested amounts of produce.
At the recent annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the best heart-healthy snacks were recommended to keep the vascular system in tip-top shape.
No. 1 Heart Healthy Snack (Top of the list): Raisins! They are high in antioxidants (to protect your arteries!), potassium (300 mg in a small box), and a good fiber source.
No. 2 Heart Healthy Snack: Soy foods. This includes soy milk (use in a fruit smoothie), soy cheese (a topper for whole-grain crackers), soy nuts, and oven-roasted edamame. Soy provides isoflavones for heart health.
No. 3 Heart Healthy Snack: Walnuts. These nuts are packed with potassium to lower blood pressure, as well as healthy monounsaturated oils. Also considered a great brain food!
No. 4 Heart Healthy Snacks: Avocados. This fruit has monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol, and more potassium than a banana (700 mg for 1 cup of sliced avocado).
No. 5 Heart Healthy Snacks: High-fiber foods in general. This includes whole-grains such as oats (oat snack bars), multi-grain crackers and pretzels, popcorn, fruits and vegetables. Fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract, and may help with weight control.
Have you heard of Metabolic Syndrome? It’s a combo of risk factors that increase cardiovascular disease risk. A recent study of more than 2,800 kids found that those who had more fiber had a lower risk for Metabolic Syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome consists of several risk factors:
Adolescents with higher fiber intake have the lowest risk for developing Metabolic Syndrome. A higher fiber diet is connected to lower body weight, a smaller body mass index and a lower waist circumference.
How can you and your children get more fiber in your diet? Eat more fruits and veggies, legumes and
grains (rice, wheat, oats, rye, barley, quinoa).
Parents: Provide your children with healthy foods that naturally come packed with fiber.
High cholesterol? A recent study shows that certain foods can reduce artery-clogging LDL-cholesterol by flushing out fat and cholesterol.
Knock down your LDL-cholesterol with
The most commonly prescribed medications in this country are the statin drugs, such as Lipitor. In fact, millions of prescriptions have been written in 2011. Holy cow! For many folks, however, medications can be eliminated or reduced by simply making healthier food choices to lower cholesterol.
These high-fiber muffins have cooked two ingredients that can lower cholesterol – barley and chopped cashews:
Former President Bill Clinton has learned something about heart disease: a fatty animal-based diet can clog arteries, and in 2004 he had quadruple-heart bypass surgery. He began eating healthier, but then in 2010 he had another fatty blockage resulting in a stent. What he did after that stent is somewhat drastic – he moved to a vegan diet and lost another 25 pounds.
A vegan diet contains NO animal products at all. So where would you get your protein?
With a vegan diet, it’s especially important to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. A few to keep an eye on…
Why join the 1% of Americans who are vegan? This eating approach may reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers (prostate and gastrointestinal). And with the usual weight loss that comes with a vegan diet, many folks with type 2 diabetes find improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Not sold on going vegan?? That’s okay. Even serving a few meatless meals each week is a great start toward healthier eating:
And you will find some tasty recipes at www.vegetariantimes.com.
People in this country looooooove their white bread, white rice, refined cereals and white pasta – but lots of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber) are stripped away during the refining process, so there’s less nutritional benefit to these foods. A new study reports on the various health benefits from eating lots of unprocessed whole grains.
In a 9-year nutrition study of 388,000+ men and women, those who had the most dietary fiber (25-30 grams/day) were 22% less likely to die than those who ate the least fiber (11-13 grams/day). Now remember, dietary fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and whole-grains – the pulp, peel, leaves, stems, etc. of plant foods.
Whole grains seemed to offer the most protection. They include: brown & wild rice, barley, quinoa… plus, whole oats, whole wheat and whole rye found in cereals, bread products, flours and pasta.
This study also found that the risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases was cut by as much as 59% in some folks with the highest fiber intake. Whole grains seemed to be the most important fiber source to offer protection.
Enjoy a whole-grain day! The USDA recommends 3 servings of whole grains each day. For example:
Breakfast – oatmeal or whole-grain cold cereal
Lunch- sandwich made with multi-grainbread, tortilla, bun or pita pocket
Dinner – stir fry served over wild rice-quinoa mixture.
Whole-grains! It’s as easy as 1-2-3 servings per day.
Young adults should watch their diet! A study from U of CA looked at LDL-cholesterol in >3,200 adults ages 18 to 30 years. (CARDI, Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adult study). Those with a high LDL-cholesterol were more likely to have health troubles down the road. There were increased calcium deposits build-up in coronary arteries as soon as 20 year later. This could be an early indicator of heart disease.
Natural cholesterol reducers are best to lower LDL-cholesterol in young adults rather than resorting to medications:
Family Health Tip: Raise your children with healthy foods prepared in healthy ways.
More information: www.nhlbi.gov.
These are turkey subs that all young folks will enjoy: whole wheat sub rolls, low-fat turkey breast, light herb&gralic spread rather than mayonnaise, reduced-fat cheese slices, fresh tomatoes, green onions and roasted red peppers.
Have you been trying to save some money in the grocery store? Join the crowd. Consider having several vegetarian meals each week. The meats that you buy eat up a big part of your food dollars.
Inexpensive animal-based protein: eggs & egg whites and reduced-fat dairy (milk, cheeses & yogurt).
Non-animal protein replacements: combine two together to have the essential amino acids: soy (milk, cheese, tofu, veggie burgers), nuts & nut butters, seeds, quinoa, rice, barley, pasta and dried beans & peas.
Yummy vegetarian examples that provide the essential amino acids:
Quinoa is a rice-like grain from South America that provides ALL essential amino acids. It is versatile and can be cooked in water or other flavorful liquids like vegetable broth. All supermarkets carry quinoa in either the rice section or the health-food section.