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High cholesterol has become a epidemic of this century, and this century alone. Many scientists believe this is due to the change in our diet over the recent years. In this decade we have reached all new highs in the prevalence rates of high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. What can we do to conquer the diseases of our time? Well we can start by eating more fruit.
Why is this an issue?
High cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and eventually death. Having cholesterol is fine, we all have cholesterol, however high cholesterol is an issue. An issue with rates at an all time high; high cholesterol is a disease that plagues over 50% of adults in the United Kingdom alone. As this can lead to cardiac arrest and in some cases death, this is clearly an issue that we need to take to heart.
Where does it come from?
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring waxy substance which is necessary for healthy cell maintenance, vitamin D production, hormone production amongst other functions. Cholesterol is made by the body in the liver so we get all the cholesterol we need. However it is also a component in some foods so we need to watch our diets and consuming too much cholesterol.
Get low! Get low!
One of the most effective ways to keep our cholesterol levels lows to limit our intake of saturated fat, as consuming these foods has been scientifically proven to raise our cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products such as butter, lard, fatty meat and full fat dairy products.
Another way to combat our cholesterols is to eat more fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre and other beneficial compounds that lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and can help individuals who struggle with their cholesterol levels. Dietary fibre can be seen as a broom that works to sweep cholesterol out of the body naturally.
How does this work? and what can we do?
Soluble fibre found in plant foods like fruits and vegetables (as well as grains and beans) bind to and remove bile acids from the body. This means that there is less bile acid available to recirculate in the body. However we need bile acid for digestion, so the liver must use up its cholesterol reserves to produce more bile acids. This process of using up our existing cholesterol, lowers the overall cholesterol in the body. Research has shown that individuals who consume higher quantities of fruits and vegetables are at lower risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. Additionally, experimental findings have shown that increasing daily dietary fibre intake by “5 to 10 grams have up to a 5 percent drop in cholesterol”.
Most fruits and vegetables are of high fibre content however some especially high in fibre such as broccoli, apples, strawberries and spinach. Additionally, dried fruits have been shown to also have been shown to offer a whole host of health benefits such as providing a high antioxidant value, help with insomnia and battle cancer. Dried apples have been especially good at lowering cholesterol. Scientists conducted a year long study that tested the cholesterol lowering effect of various dried fruits in a group of 160 older women. They found that just 12 dried apple rings a day helped to significantly drop the overall cholesterol levels! It’s time to get crunching!
Put simply if we are to trying to reduce our cholesterol levels, reduce our risk of heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure or just live a healthy lifestyle we should limit saturated fat intake and eat more fibre! Each fruit and vegetable crisp pack at The Giving Tree count as one of your five a day!
For more information click here!Tags: Cholesterol, dried fruits, Epidemic, Fibre, freeze-dried fruit, fruit, health, healthy, Heart Attacks, High Blood Pressure, lifestyle, nutrition, obesity, Plant based, Scientific studies, snack, snacking, the giving tree, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian
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