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December 27, 2011
Top 5 Foods and Herbs To Control Cholesterol

Millions take statin drugs to help lower their cholesterol, making it one of the most popular classes of prescription drugs on the market today, but like most prescription medications, these drugs are often unnecessary. Whether your health is at the top of its game or not, there are a number of valuable foods and plants which can help you management your cholesterol levels naturally.

Top 5 Foods

1. Oats: If you change your morning meal to oats then you can do your cholesterol level a whole lot of good. Do note that two servings of oats can lower LDL cholesterol by 5.3% in only 6 weeks. Essentially, oats contain a substance called beta-glucan which absorbs bad cholesterol.

2. Salmon and fatty Fish: Full of Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a natural health wonder, which helps in keeping heart conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and high cholesterol levels at bay. Fishes such as salmon, sardines and herring help in raising good cholesterol levels by 4%.

3. Nuts: Mono-unsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds etc.) have the lowest fatty acid molecules and are the best of the three fats, namely poly-saturated fats, saturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats. Nuts are the best way to get those required healthy fats into your body without feeling guilty. Since the fats that come from nuts are natural and are not chemically processed, this makes them heart healthy, filling, and nutritious options.

4. Beans: Excellent for the heart, ½ a cup of beans added in our diet (in the form of any dish or soup), helps in lowering cholesterol levels by 8%. You should try black, kidney, or pinto beans; each one of them supplies about one-third of your day's fiber needs.

5. Spinach. Popeye the sailor was quite right when crediting his muscle power to this green leafy vegetable. It is believed that spinach contains around 13 flavonoid compounds which keep us away from cancer, heart diseases and osteoporosis. 1/2 a cup of this lutein-rich food, daily, guards us against heart attacks.

Top 5 Herbs

1. Alfalfa Herb

Animal studies indicate that saponins in alfalfa seeds may block absorption of cholesterol and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. It seems that fibers and chemicals in alfalfa appear to stick to cholesterol, keeping it from staying in the blood or depositing in blood vessels. More of the harmful types of cholesterol leave the body, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL) - the “good” kind of cholesterol -- appears to be unaffected. One small human trial found that 120 grams per day of heat-treated alfalfa seeds for eight weeks led to a modest reduction in cholesterol. However, avoid consuming the large amounts of alfalfa seeds (80 to 120 grams per day) for it may potentially cause damage to red blood cells in the body.

2. Capsicum Fruit

Capsicum is a spicy herb commonly used in chili and salsa. Extract has stimulating properties and creates increased blood flow. Slow and sluggish circulation that accumulates toxins is quickened, and blood moves to the extremities of the body taking with it needed oxygen and nutrients to the cells. In scientific studies capsicum has been shown to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

3. Garlic Bulb

Garlic has been used throughout the centuries, for treating various illness. The most important and unique feature is its high content of organosulfur substances. Garlic contains at least four times more sulfur than other high sulfur vegetables-onion, broccoli and cauliflower. It keeps the cholesterol levels in our blood in good balance. It does this by lowering serum cholesterol levels while raising ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol levels. Garlic has anti-clotting effects that reduce plaque formation in blood vessels and clots that cause heart disease and stroke.

4. Psyllium

Use of psyllium has been extensively studied as a way to reduce cholesterol levels. An analysis of all double-blind trials in 1997 concluded that a daily amount of 10 grams psyllium lowered cholesterol levels by 5% and LDL cholesterol by 9%. Since then, a large controlled trial found that use of 5.1 grams of psyllium two times per day significantly reduced serum cholesterol as well as LDL-cholesterol. Generally, 5 to 10 grams of psyllium are added to the diet per day to lower cholesterol levels. The combination of psyllium and oat bran may also be effective at lowering LDL cholesterol

5. Red Yeast Rice

Since 800 A.D., red yeast rice has been employed by the Chinese as both a food and a medicinal agent. Its therapeutic benefits as both a promoter of blood circulation and a digestive stimulant. Researchers have determined that one of the ingredients in red yeast rice, called monacolin K, inhibits the production of cholesterol by stopping the action of a key enzyme in the liver (e.g., HMG-CoA reductase) that is responsible for manufacturing cholesterol. Red yeast rice has been clinically investigated as a therapy for reducing cholesterol in two human trials. In one trial, both men and women taking 1.2 grams (approximately 13.5 mg total monacolins) of a concentrated red yeast rice extract per day for two months had significant decreases in serum cholesterol levels. In addition, people taking red yeast rice had a significant increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a decrease in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Elevated triglycerides were also found to be lowered. Red yeast rice is commercially available in capsules and 2.4 grams (approximately 10 mg monacolins) per day is often recommended in divided amounts for a trial period of up to 12 weeks. If successful after this period of time, it may be used for long-term management of high cholesterol.

Some other herbs used in the management of cholesterol are: Ginseng, turmeric, Cayenne, Aloe Vera, Saffron, Dandelion, True Blue Skullcap, Thyme Herb, Black Cohash, Gaurana, Yellow Dock, Burdock Root, Echinacea Root, Red Clover blooms. Do not consume these herbs without consultation from your Naturopathic Doctor. Doses of these herbs need to be carefully administered to avoid side effects.


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