A study by the University of Queensland in Australia explained how some cereals, such as oats, neutralize the effects of bad cholesterol, helping to reduce cardiovascular risk. The scientific community already knew the effect; however, the new study identified the mechanism by which this phenomenon occurs.
The merit for this goes to beta-glucan, a soluble polysaccharide that exerts several positive effects on our body. This substance not only lowers bad cholesterol but also reduces two other important cardiovascular risk signs, non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, a protein selected to carry bad cholesterol into the tissues through the blood.
As explained by Dr. Maddalena Lettino, Head of the Heart Failure unit at Humanitas: “The beta glucan content present in oats is also found in barley, although in small quantities, and it helps lower cholesterol levels as it interacts with the bile in the intestine, increasing fecal excretion. The bile entrains large amounts of cholesterol, which are then, eliminated from the body. Other fiber-rich whole grains contribute to the removal of cholesterol and reduction of the sugar absorbed after a meal, with a positive effect on the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, especially in people suffering from hypercholesterolemia and/or diabetes”.
What a diet against bad cholesterol should include
Dr. Lettino points out that there are other types of food that help control blood cholesterol levels such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, fruit and garlic. She outlines the basic foods and their benefits below.
Dried fruit (such as walnuts, almonds, pistachio, and hazelnuts), pumpkin seeds and flax seeds which are rich in omega 6, and poly-unsaturated fatty acids of vegetable origin are able to reduce bad cholesterol.
Vegetables are high in fiber, which facilitate the bowel movement, maintain the blood sugar levels stable and reduce the absorption of cholesterol in our body.
Bluefish and other fish are rich in omega 3 and fatty acids that improve the metabolism of fat in the blood. They substantially reduce the triglycerides, especially if taken in large amounts, and may produce a slight increase of good cholesterol (HDL), contributing to the prevention of cardiovascular risk.
Fruit, which is best to eat according to the season, can help reduce bad cholesterol levels thanks to the soluble fiber that cleanses the body of excess fat. We must mention the avocado, a fruit rich in mono-unsaturated fats that reduce bad cholesterol, however, it is very high in calories, so do not overdo it.
Even garlic is capable of reducing LDL cholesterol levels, although its action is quite limited.