For millions of people suffering from heart disease, the current leading cause of death worldwide, numerous studies have revealed another healthy and delicious food option for lowering the possibility of complications related to high cholesterol.
Pistachios and Sunflower seeds have been found to have the highest quantities of cholesterol lowering phytosterols (beta sitosterol) among all commonly eaten nuts and seeds.
Phytosterols, found in plants, are believed to block absorption of cholesterol in the intestine (*NLM). 3.5 ounces (2 handfuls) of pistachios contain approximately 280 milligrams of phytosterols, followed closely by sunflower seeds at 270milligrams. Consumed daily for 4 weeks, this quantity of pistachios caused a reduction in total blood cholesterol levels by 8.4%, and dropped low density lipoprotein by 11.6% (*PSU).
In addition to phytosterols, pistachios also contain the most lutein, beta carotene, gamma tocopherol, and zeaxanthin of all tree nuts. These antioxidants are being explored for their role in reducing bloodstream cholesterol and arterial plaque formation, as oxidized lipoproteins are significant contributors to these problems.
The combination of these factors combined with their impact on magnesium levels (and how it relates to cholesterol) make pistachios and sunflower seeds among the healthiest dietary options available in reducing cholesterol and increasing plant sources of vitamins and minerals.
Healthy recipes with Pistachio nuts:
- Pistachio Crusted Salmon Filet
- Pistachio Muffins
- Pistachio Rum Muffins
- Pistachio Granola
- Lemon Pistachio Pesto
- Couscous and Chickpea Salad with Pistachios
- Pistachio-Strawberry Pie
- Pistachio Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette
Recipes with sunflower seeds:
Exactly what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural waxy substance that occurs throughout your body. The most abundant steroid in animal tissues, it can be found in cell walls and membranes in places like your brain and nervous system, muscle tissue, heart and circulation system, skin, liver, intestines, and more. Cholesterol is commonly used by your body in the production of hormones, vitamins, and fat digesting bile acids.
Why can cholestrol be a problem?
Identifying the early symptoms of a cardiovascular problem is critical to stopping or reducing the progression to heart disease. One very effective way of doing this is through testing performed by a doctor to assess cholesterol levels within the bloodstream.
In the 1990′s, testing for cholesterol became more accessible and convenient for many people by the use of home test kits. When used correctly, these test kits can be an accurate, affordable, and time convenient way of monitoring cardiovascular health in people who have not progressed to late stages of disease.
The Black Plague. The White Plague (Tuberculosis). Aids. Influenza. Malaria. Smallpox.
Yes. Despite the highly advanced state of our technology, despite the information age, despite billions of dollars in health care and research.. one of the most preventable health concerns of all major inflictions has become a catastrophic epidemic, and the leading cause of death worldwide. (*source – World Health Organization).
Today, heart disease is at epidemic proportions in our society. Eighty million (80,000,000) Americans currently suffer from at least one cardiovascular disease problem, and 17 million people worldwide die of Cardiovascular disease each year. CVD is currently the leading cause of death, even above cancer.
Despite $280,000,000 dollars in medical health care and associated costs, the problem is much more manageable than it seems. While the problem is no secret, what many people do not know is how much diet and lifestyle influence this disease, and how easily treatable and even preventable it really is!
The modern food industry has spawned a vast array of processed, synthesized food products which have become a regular part of our diet, and a significant part of our problem. Characteristics of a low cholesterol diet are actually very similar to those of the naturally healthy eating habits of our ancestors, and possess the following characteristics:
Balanced fat foods: Lack of artificial trans fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oils. Limited levels of saturated fats from animal sources. Balanced 1 to 1 ratio levels of Omega-3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (the typical western diet is 50:1!), and mono unsaturated fats to maintain HDL and lower triglycerides.
Increased dietary fiber: Higher levels of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, usually found in plant sources. 20 to 25 grams daily of this digestion aiding, cholesterol lowering food is recommended, the current average diet contains far less than half that amount.
Plants!: Fruits and Vegetables contain very high amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Many vegetables are also very low on the glycemic index. Amazing quantities of antioxidants, micro nutrients, and phytochemicals are constantly being discovered in both fruits and vegetables which have powerful positive affects on the body. The natural sugars found in fruit are also slower digesting and better alternatives than many of the refined sugars found in processed alternatives.
Leaner Meat: Red meat contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. White meat and poultry (such as chicken or turkey) is very low fat, and makes an excellent alternative. Fish (when free from modern contaminants such as mercury) is among the healthiest foods which can be consumed, high in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids essential for our brains and nervous systems. It is also low in saturated fat.
Cooking Oil: While not often consumed in large quantities naturally (especially when heated вЂ“ even more dangerous), healthy alternatives to conventional cooking oil include olive, almond, canola, peanut, sesame, peanut, palm, Cocoa, and others. This should always be used sparingly to avoid potentially fatal trans fatty acids as much as possible.
Natural, healthy, unprocessed food diets not only help treatment and prevention of cardiovascular complications over the course of a lifetime, they are often much better tasting than refined, factory produced alternatives. As your body grows accustomed to them, you gain the ability to appreciate the natural tastes found in the foods much more than the overpowering chemicals labeled as food by the industry.
Fun physical activities and a natural low cholesterol diet are the real solutions to the catastrophic epidemics facing our well being. Let the secret out about your health!
Total Cholesterol levels between 200 to 239 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) is considered вЂњborderline highвЂќ. Levels above 240 mg/dL blood are associated with about double the risk of coronary heart disease as compared with desirable levels вЂ“ below 200 mg/dL.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol Levels:
The range of LDL Cholesterol is as follows: