A High Vegetable Diet
A diet that is high in a variety of vegetables can help to lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and greatly improve the health of your cardiovascular system. How do vegetables work to reduce cholesterol?
First, many veggies are excellent sources of fiber. A diet that is high in soluble fiber in particular may help to produce low blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance as it moves through the body. It can bind with bile acids, quickly removing them from the body. As cholesterol is needed to produce bile acids, this action helps to decrease the cholesterol that is present in the body, as the liver needs it to create more bile acids. According to a study performed by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, soluble fibers reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels, although only by a small amount.
Vegetables are also good for lowering cholesterol because they are generally packed with antioxidants and important nutrients for
cardiovascular health. Vitamin C for example is important for the health and repair of blood vessel walls. Vitamin A is known to help lower cholesterol. These vitamins and other antioxidants help to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL is what is more likely to form plaque along artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Some vegetables, such as the dark green vegetables, contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s. These fatty acids are known to help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
So, what vegetables are good to reduce cholesterol levels? Which should you be including in your diet on a regular basis for healthy blood cholesterol?
cholesterol levels. Carrots are also exceptionally high in protective antioxidants, including different carotenoids, some of which are precursors of vitamin A. Even drinking carrot juice is beneficial; it helps to flush out fats from the bile produced by the liver, thereby lowering cholesterol.
Garlic has long been known as one of the best vegetables for heart health. Studies have shown that it can slightly lower blood cholesterol levels, although some studies have shown no benefits on patients who already have high LDL cholesterol levels. Penn State professor Yu-Yan Yeh studied the effects of garlic on blood cholesterol levels for years, using both animal and human trials. He found that some of the sulfur-containing compounds appear to inhibit the production of cholesterol in the liver. Yu-Yan Yeh concluded that garlic may not be as strong as cholesterol-lowering drugs, but it certainly can play a positive role for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Broccoli is undoubtedly a remarkable vegetable. It is a source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and more then one dozen vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E and K. Eating broccoli helps to lower cholesterol as some of the fiber-related nutrients in this vegetable bind with bile acids, keeping them in the intestine so they can be excreted from the body. When the bile acids are removed the liver uses cholesterol from the blood stream to create more, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels. Broccoli also contains protective antioxidants and a small amount of essential fatty acids, to help reduce levels.
Although technically a fruit, avocado is often used as a vegetable, served in salads, on sandwiches and even as a great accompaniment to meat, eggs and fish. Avocados have been shown in research to lower cholesterol levels. In one 1996 study, published in the Archives of
Medical Research, 45 participants consumed avocados daily for one week. The average drop in cholesterol was a whopping 17 percent. Avocado is an excellent food for reducing cholesterol, as it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids. It is also a rich source of beta-sitosterol, which has been shown to lower cholesterol in human clinical trails.
Knowing what vegetables can help with reducing cholesterol levels is important for naturally supporting your cardiovascular system and reducing your risk of heart disease. Be sure to include carrots, garlic, broccoli and avocados in your diet on a regular basis. Also, be sure to eat a variety of both fruits and vegetables as each food provides its own unique set of beneficial phytochemicals and combination of fibers. Who knows, maybe there is another optimal veggie for cholesterol reduction that research hasn’t investigated yet.
Anderson, J., S. Perryman, L. Young and S. Prior. Dietary Fiber. Colorado State University Extension. (https://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09333.html).
Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,NIH archives. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9925120).
Balch, Phyllis A. " Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Alternative Treatments for High Cholesterol. WebMD. (https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/high_cholesterol_alternative-therapies)
How does garlic lower blood cholesterol? Research Penn State. (https://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/garlic.html).
World’s Healthiest Foods. Broccoli. (https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9).
The Avocado Advantage. WebMD. (https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/avocado-advantage)
photo by Keith McDuffee/flickr
photo by Man with Beard/flickr
photo by Vlad Tsirushkin/flickr