Did you know that all the cells in your body have cholesterol? Even though we’ve given this waxy, fat-like substance a bad rap over the past two decades, your body uses cholesterol to help it make hormones, vitamin D, and substances you use to digest food. Your body produces the cholesterol it needs, but there is cholesterol in the foods we eat as well.*
What we eat can play a large role in more aspects of our heart’s health than just its cholesterol levels. Here are some recent studies on nuts and fiber that show how these foods may help support your healthier heart.
Almonds for Healthy Hearts
Doctors followed 27 people with elevated LDL cholesterol while they ate three different diets. For four weeks each, participants added 2 to 4 ounces of almonds alone, about 4 to 8 ounces of muffins alone, or about half of each of these together. The diets gave the same amount of calories, fat, protein, and fiber, except that the almonds provided much more monounsaturated fat than the muffins.
The almond group saw total and LDL cholesterol decline while HDL increased. For every 1-ounce increase in almonds per day, doctors estimated the chances for developing coronary heart disease over 10 years would decline by 3.5 percent.
Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; 2014, Vol. 112, No. 7, 1137-46
Walnuts for Healthy Hearts
New evidence suggests adding walnuts to the diet may improve chances of having a healthy heart. In a review of recent studies, one Yale University trial found obese people with higher chances of pre-diabetes had better blood flow and pressure without gaining weight after adding walnuts to the diet for eight weeks. In two large Harvard University studies, those who ate two or more ounces of walnuts per week were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, while a third Harvard study found people who added walnuts to the diet had lower total and LDL cholesterol, greater antioxidant capacity, and less inflammation, without gaining weight.
Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; 2014, Vol. 144 Supplement, 547S-54S
Fiber for Blood Pressure
Fiber may help keep the heart healthy, possibly by lowering blood pressure. In this study, 2,195 men and women visited doctors on days one and two, and again on days 21 and 22, reporting their diets, while doctors took multiple blood pressure and urine samples. Doctors considered differences in lifestyle and body mass index scores and found that increasing total fiber by 6.8 grams per 1,000 calories lowered systolic blood pressure (SBP) 1.69 mmHg. Insoluble fiber was most effective, with an increase of 4.6 grams per 1,000 calories lowering SBP 1.81 mmHg. Insoluble fiber helps food pass through the gut more quickly.
Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; 2015, Vol. 114, No. 9, 1480-6
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider.
Article copyright 2016 by Natural Insights for Wellbeing. All rights reserved. Used with permission