KRON 4 | Foods that Sop Up Bad Cholesterol

Continued from Part 1… How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain

Read how plaque invades your blood vessels here.

Cholesterol
Think of soluble fiber as the “cholesterol sponge”.

Foods that Lower “Bad Cholesterol”

You can lower your numbers by adding more fiber to your diet, particularly, beta-glucan (pronounced “glue-can”).

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber also known as “oat gum”. Think of soluble fiber as a “cholesterol sponge”. It mops up LDLs in your intestines and gets rid of them with other waste. This keeps excesses from accumulating in your blood vessels and making plaque.

Foods High in Beta-Glucan

Bob's Red Mill BarleyBeta-glucan is found in the cell walls of cereals. It’s the main component of soluble fiber in oats and barley. Beta-glucan is what gives your morning oatmeal it’s creamy, viscous texture.

  • Whole oats
  • Whole oat flour (1 1/4 cups of rolled oats will yield 1 cup of oat flour)
  • Rolled oats (oats are heated and rolled flat)
  • Steel-cut oats (oats are thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • Oatmeal (the inner part of the oat grout)
  • Oat bran (the outer husk of the oat grout; lighter and finer than wheat bran)
  • Barley*
  • Whole barley flour

*Pearl or pearled barley has been processed to remove some or all of the outer bran layer resulting in a quicker cooking time.

Oats
Eating oats/barley a day can lower “bad cholesterol” by 5 to 7%.

How Oat Bran Lowered LDL (“Bad Cholesterol”)

In one study, beta-glucan significantly reduced the total and LDL cholesterol levels of adults with elevated cholesterol levels without changing the HDL (“good cholesterol”). Subjects consumed 2.9 g beta-glucan TWICE a day for 4 weeks. This amount is equivalent to a daily dose of about 70 g of oat bran (almost 2/3 cup dry).

An analysis of other studies conducted over 13 years supported the intake found that eating 3 grams ONCE a day of oat beta-glucan can lower total cholesterol by 5% in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 7%, thus reducing major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Remember… atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) is a chronic disease which means it is persistent, long-lasting in its effects, and requires medical attention.

Bobs-Red-Mill-Oat-Bran-High-Fiber-Hot-Cereal-039978041432
Studies shows eating oats lowers “bad cholesterol”.

To get in at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan a day, eat rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or oat bran in the following serving sizes:

  • Rolled oats, 3/4 cup dry OR 2/3 cup oat flour (7.5 g fiber)
  • Steel-cut oats*, 1/2 cup dry (8 g fiber)
  • Oat bran, 1/3 cup dry (6 g fiber)

*Steel cut oats contain more fiber than rolled oats.

Cooking with Oats

  • Oats are extremely versatile. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, pancakes, pie crusts, nutrition bars, cookies, crackers, crumble toppings, and as a coating for fish.
  • They naturally thicken food. You can use these nutty-tasting oats to thicken soups and stews.
  • Use oat groats instead of rice in a pilaf.
  • chia-seed-smoothie_adobestock_77942716_croppedOat beta-glucan soluble fiber can also be added to beverages/liquids, such as smoothies, yogurt drinks, juice drinks), yogurt, soups, sauces, and dressings. Add some oats to your smoothies to make them more satisfying and nourishing. The fiber will help slow down digestion which can stabilize your blood sugar.

Apple c heart symbol_128x128Fit Tip: Eat at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, but you can lower your risk by including certain foods into your daily eating plan. Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower LDL numbers.

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xo

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KRON 4 | How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain

If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease or you just want to keep your heart healthy, you’ve probably been told to “watch your cholesterol”. The type of cholesterol that puts you at risk for plaque-lined arteries is LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and diet plays an important role. How are you keeping your plumbing clog-free?

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What is Plaque?

Plaque is a fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent). When plaque clogs your arteries, it can partially or totally block blood flow through ANY of your arteries, such as your pelvis, legs, arms, or kidneys — not just your heart and brain.

Blausen_0257_CoronaryArtery_Plaque
Courtesy of Blausen.com staff (2014)

Atherosclerosis can precipitate various conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease (plaque in arteries in or leading to the heart)
  • Angina (chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Carotid artery disease and stroke (plaque in neck arteries supplying blood to the brain)
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD (plaque in arteries of the extremities, especially the legs); hardening of arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet.
  • Chronic kidney disease

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs cholesterol — it’s a fatty, waxy substance that: 

  • Makes hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
  • Makes vitamin D
  • Makes digestive fluids
  • Builds healthy cells
  • Protects nerve cells
  • Enables organs (such as your brain) to function properly 

Your liver makes the cholesterol your body needs and some comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, so it’s enveloped by proteins which enable them to travel in your blood. 

Cholesterol
LDL or “bad cholesterol” is a microscopic blob with a cholesterol center.

What is LDL?

The cholesterol that makes up plaque and builds up on the walls of your blood vessels is LDL or “low-density lipoprotein”. Too much LDL circulating in your blood increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke, so it’s known as the “bad cholesterol”.

Basically, LDL is a ‘microscopic blob’ with a cholesterol center packaged inside of protein. These protein packages are called “lipoproteins”. But LDL’s don’t just carry cholesterol, they also carry triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants.

Why You Need LDL   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain”

KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life

For good health, you’ve probably been told to eat more fiber — but all fibers are not alike. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, such as belly fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, it’s a good idea to know the difference. Here’s how fiber in general can add years to your life.

Fiber Basics

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re types of carbohydrates that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber refers to carbohydrates, such as:

  • Cellulose
  • Dextrin
  • Inulin
  • Lignin
  • Chitins
  • Pectins
  • Beta-glucans
  • Waxes
  • Oligosaccharides

Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. They’re different in how they react with water — and because of that, they have a different effect on your body.

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Soluble Fiber – “The Cholesterol Sponge”

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel (soft and sticky) in the intestines which:

  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol* (the “bad” cholesterol). Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol-laden bile in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. Per a review and analysis of multiple studies, increasing total dietary fiber by just 7 gm a day reduced stroke risk by 7% and heart disease risk by 9%. Example of 7 gm fiber: 1 medium apple + 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal OR 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans.
  • Slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Helps control body weight by making you feel full longer. It slows the emptying of food through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Slows visceral fat gain. A study found that eating an additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day reduced the rate at which visceral fat accumulated (nearly 4% slower over a 5-year period).

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.   

Sources High in Soluble Fiber

Many foods have both soluble AND insoluble fibers with some having predominantly more of one than the other.

  • Oats, oat bran
  • Barley
  • Chia seeds, ground flax seeds
  • Legumes (beans, split peas, lentils)
  • Psyllium husk
  • Apples, avocados, pears, citrus fruits (but not fruit juices)
KRON 4 Fiber_soluble fiber
Example of 10 grams of SOLUBLE fiber and over 20 grams of TOTAL dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble)

Insoluble Fiber – “Nature’s Broom”

Insoluble fiber acts like “nature’s broom”. It sweeps through your gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it travels through your digestive tract which eases elimination, so it:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life”

Fit Find | Wasa® Flaxseed Crispbread

Wasa-Crispbread-Flaxseed

If you’re looking for a cracker for spreading your Nuttzo™ and Fiordifrutta™ or for diving into a bowl of Aubergine® Fire-Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Spread (my favorite!), I haven’t come across any that are healthier than Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread.

One thing though… you can’t compare this cracker to a salty, buttery club cracker or any other cracker processed with oil and salt. In fact, you may even say Wasa® Flax Seed Crispbread tastes like ‘sawdust’. Yes, really. But don’t go away yet!    Continue reading “Fit Find | Wasa® Flaxseed Crispbread”

♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics

For good health, aim for getting in 40 gm of fiber every day — but all fibers are not alike. If you’re a diabetic, cardiac patient or at risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re the parts that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber is separated into two main types: “soluble” (or high-viscosity) and “insoluble” (or low-viscosity fibers). They’re both important, but they’re different in how they react with water and their effect on your body.

Oatmeal
Oat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.

High-Viscosity (Soluble) Fiber

  • Dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel in the intestines which slows down digestion.
  • Helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.*
  • Slows the emptying of food through the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract, so it helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Makes you feel full longer which helps control body weight.
  • May reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.  

Did You Know…

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge“. It soaks up cholesterol-laden bile salts in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. To produce more bile acids (compounds needed to transport and absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins), your liver must use the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. That means there’s less to collect and harden on the walls of your arteries!   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics”