Are you one of the nearly 40 million Americans who have high blood cholesterol? Or perhaps you’re one of the 105 million other people who have higher than healthy levels. Either of these conditions makes the possibility of suffering from heart disease a lot more likely. High cholesterol’s main cause, along with lack of exercise and obesity, is a diet too rich in saturated fat.
Cholesterol occurs naturally after you eat animal products, the only food that contains saturated fats. According to U.S. guidelines, you should aim to get 30% or less of your energy from total fat and, in particular, 10% or less of your energy from saturated fat. Unfortunately, many Americans far exceed this recommendation when consuming typical foods belonging to the Western diet.
The remedy for this problem is quite simple and can have far-reaching health benefits. The heart, after all, is an important organ. It must pump blood each and every day for you, tirelessly, without fail and without rest to ensure you remain alive. Doing whatever you can to help it out just makes sense from whatever angle you look at it. A four-week study recently found that adding certain vegetables to an already healthy diet will naturally lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in your body. The study built upon the idea that you should get 10% or less of your energy from saturated fat.
Researchers attempted to see whether or not a plant-based diet (vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) could improve cholesterol levels because they were low in saturated fat, or because the nutrients within these foods actually lowered cholesterol. They looked at 120 adults between the ages of 30 and 65. Everyone had hypercholesterolemia, which involves higher than healthy lipid levels.
The participants in the study followed one of two low-fat diets that provided the 30% and 10% ratios as mentioned in the U.S. guidelines. The two diets differed in vegetable, fruit, legume, and whole grain content, but did have the same amount of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. The only thing that changed was the amount of plant-based foods that the two groups ate.
After one month, the 59 adults whose diet included high amounts of these four food groups experienced significant improvements in LDL and total cholesterol levels.
So here’s more proof that vegetable-based diets could help lower cholesterol without the need for drugs or supplements. What a great way to keep cholesterol levels in check while boosting the health of the rest of your body at the same time.