Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How to Lower Cholesterol Without Using Drugs

I would like to share this info which I have received through email.

How I Lower Cholesterol Without Using Drugs
Written by theconsciouslife

All these years, despite regular exercise and avoiding saturated and trans fat laden foods, my level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or commonly known as the bad cholesterol, has remained relatively high.

I supposed I am one of those who is genetically engineered to produce high cholesterol regardless of weight, lifestyle and diet. But this doesn’t mean that I can do nothing about the plaques that are building inside my arteries.

Rather than taking medication like statins, I chose to use whole foods as the solutions to my predicament. And there is certainly no lack of choices from nature for me to choose from.
After six months of trial, I have reduced my bad cholesterol level from as high as 200 mg/dL to the current 120 mg/dL, which is considered desirable. Over time, I am confident that the number will go down even further. In this article, I’ll share a list of inexpensive foods which I have consciously included into my diet that worked for me.

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods That Work

1. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is very effective in lowering cholesterol because it contains beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber which binds with cholesterol and bile acid, preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body. I take two tablespoon of instant oatmeal mixed with hot water every morning with breakfast. I don’t recommend adding sugar, but if you find it too bland, try adding some honey to it. If time permits, I suggest you cook a bowl of regular oatmeal and add fruits and nuts for a heart-nourishing breakfast.

Side benefits: Oat is also found to reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers; improves immune response; stabilizes blood sugar and even has anti-aging properties!

Caution: Oat is relatively high in purine, a natural substance found in all living things. Excessive intake of high-purine foods can lead to gout in some people. However, some studies have also shown that plant-based purines doesn’t appear to increase the risk of gout. To be safe, if you have been advised to keep to a low-purine diet, follow your doctor’s recommendations.

2. Dried black fungus. Also known as wood ear or cloud ear, black fungus helps to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and is found to have anti-coagulant properties that help to prevent plaque from building up in arteries. I usually add reconstituted dried black fungi in soups and eat them about two times a week. You can also add cooked dried black fungi in salads and give your meal an extra crunchy and slippery texture. Dried black fungus expand many times its size when rehydrated, so be careful not to use too much at a time.

Side benefits: Black fungus is a rich source of plant-based iron and is beneficial for people who suffer from iron-deficiency. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses black fungus as a blood tonic to improve blood circulation, and as a scavenger of the digestive system to remove indigestible impurities, like heavy metals, hairs and dust.

Caution: Choose only the dried form as fresh black fungus is known to cause phototoxic reaction in some people.

3. Eggplant. Known as aubergine or brinjal in some countries, eggplant is found to be effective in reducing cholesterol level, and improves blood flow. I usually stir-fry eggplant with garlic and eggs once a week.

Side benefits: The deep purple hue in the skin of eggplant is found to have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. So do not remove the skin! Eggplant is also packed full of phytonutrients including nasunin which protects brain cell membranes from damage, and binds with excess iron.

Caution: Eggplant contains some amounts of oxalates. Studies on dietary oxalates leading to the formation of kidney stones are inconclusive. But, if you are suffering from existing kidney or gallbladder problems, you may want to seek your physician’s advice before taking eggplant regularly. Eggplant belongs to the nightshade family of vegetables which are not recommended for people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other joint problems like gout.

4. Black beans. Like other legumes, black beans are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and high quality plant-based protein. I cook black beans together with rice, barley and green beans as a porridge once a week. To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, soak black beans for at least 3 hours before cooking. Personally, I soak them overnight. Soaked beans will expand roughly twice their size, so adjust your amount accordingly.

Side benefits: These black pearls are loaded with antioxidant compounds that destroy free radicals. They also have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar and are revered in TCM for their detoxifying and kidney-supporting capabilities.

Caution: Be sure to check for and remove debris, small stones, damaged and moldy beans. Moldy beans produces aflatoxins that can cause liver cancer. Black beans also contain purines, so the same cautionary note for purines applies.

5. Corn. Corn fiber and corn oil are effective in reducing LDL and increasing the percentage of HDL. I add chopped corns into soup and eat them four times weekly.

Side benefits: Corn is also a good supplier of folate that helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. It is equally rich in thiamin (vitamin B1) which is essential for healthy cognitive functions.

Caution: Take whole corn, not processed corn products. Most processed corn products are either stripped clean of beneficial corn oil and fiber, or coated in thick layers of fat or cream. Some people are also allergic to corn; make sure you are not one of them before feasting on a freshly steamed corn on the cob.

6. Enoki mushroom. Known also as golden needle mushroom, this delicate mushroom with small white cap is rich in dietary fiber like chitin that helps to lower cholesterol. Blood pressure lowering compounds have also been found in enoki. For once a week, I will lay some enoki mushrooms in a bowl and pour hot soup over them before serving. This will prevent the mushrooms from overcooking and turning hard and fibrous.

Side benefits: Enoki mushroom contains a polysaccharide called flammulin, which has demonstrated anti-cancer and anti-tumor activities in some studies.

Caution: I do not recommend eating enoki mushrooms raw, as there has been a reported case of enoki being contaminated by listeria, which can cause listeriosis.

7. Kelp. Kelp is a type of seaweed that has been found to lower blood cholesterol in studies done in Japan. This effect may be due to its abundant plant sterols, which are essentially phytosterols, that inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. Kelps are excellent in soups as they impart a unique taste of the sea. I use them about once a week.

Side benefits: Kelp is an excellent source of iodine, which is essential for thyroid function, and lignans, which has anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Kelp also produces alkali that helps to maintain an alkaline pH balance in our body.

Caution: TCM believes that kelp promotes delivery, so do avoid kelp during pregnancy.

In my experience, adopting an abstinence strategy isn't enough to lower my bad cholesterol level. While avoiding certain types of foods, such as deep fried fish and chips and pastries, is important, a large percentage of serum cholesterol appears to come from the body itself, and not derived from the food I eat. Therefore, it is important to actively incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods into my diet. This approach has proven to be effective in reducing my LDL while keeping the HDL relatively unchanged.

However, while the foods mentioned here are beneficial, it doesn’t mean that you should binge on them and exclud other foods from your diet. It is important to eat a wide range of different whole foods, and even different colors of foods to ensure that you are getting a good supply of different nutrients. Besides, too much of any good thing can actually work against you. So use your common sense and eat consciously. Your body will tell you what it really needs if you pay attention.

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