Phytosterols To Battle High Cholesterol
Here's another article from our good friend, Jennifer Dawson
It is amazing to think that around 78 million adults in the U.S. have cholesterol levels which are high enough to put them at a risk for heart disease and stroke. You may have heard a lot about polyphenols, flavonols, and other antioxidants that boost health and help keep cholesterol levels down, but don't forget phytosterols: plant compounds that can play an important role in healthy aging. Found in foods like tiger nuts, whole grains, seeds, and legumes, they have been found to lower serum LDL cholesterol by 8%-10%. When combined with a healthy lifestyle and exercise, they can go a long way towards keeping cholesterol-related disease at bay.
How do phytosterols lower 'bad cholesterol' levels in blood?
Studies have shown that the main benefit of phytosterols is their ability to interfere with the absorption of cholesterol. The only side effect phytosterols have is that they can also impede the absorption of carotenoids (one of many antioxidants that promote heart health and keep aging at bay). If you are the family cook, you can easily compensate for this effect by adding carotenoid-rich foods to your meals, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or spinach to your diet. If someone else is preparing your meal or you have catered menus delivered, mention the importance of these foods to your caterer or nutritionist.
Tiger nut oil boosts your phytosterol count.
Consider alternating cold-pressed, extra-virgin tiger nut oil with your favorite healthy cooking and preparation oils for ultimate cholesterol reducing power. As noted in healthwithfood.org "From a nutritional perspective, one of the key differences between tiger nut oil and olive oil is that tiger nut oil is much higher in phytosterols: Tiger nut oil contains 986.49 of phytosterols mcg/g, whereas olive oil only contains 100 mcg/g." Thus far, existing studies have as yet to prove a link between phytosterols and a lower risk of heart disease. However, the cholesterol-busting effects of taking just 2gr of phytosterols per day have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 10%, as mentioned above. You may find it useful to alternate tiger nut oil with other healthy oils such as flaxseed and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, which contain heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
Additional benefits of phytosterols.
Phytosterols may have antioxidant properties, which means that they support the integrity of cell membranes. Studies have also been shown that beta-sitosterol (a type of phytosterols) may be helpful in managing prostate enlargement. Finally, preliminary research shows they may aid in maintaining a normal hair growth rate.
There are many ways that you can reduce your 'bad cholesterol' levels, including the adoption of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet and the consumption of healthy oils such as cold-pressed, extra-virgin tiger nut oil. Use common sense and ensure you enjoy a moderate amount of a variety of healthy, seasonal foods, also using a blend of oils, each of which has unique benefits for human health.