Everyone is looking for the answer to lowering cardiovascular disease. WE know there are many risk factors for heart disease that are controllable: lack of exercise, overweight and obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated glucose levels.
A recent Spanish study of over 7,000 elderly men and women who were at risk for cardiovascular disease offers some interesting information for reducing artery-clogging LDL-cholesterol via diet. The answer seemed to be through the gut by eating yogurt with active cultures and food sources of lignans.
What did the yogurt and lignans do? They:
- Lowered total cholesterol
- Lowered LDL cholesterol
- Lowered diastolic pressure
In this study, people who ate more yogurt with active cultures had diets with more protein and fiber, as well as less cholesterol. Folks who ate more lignans had lower glucose levels.
Lignans are a source of polyphenols that include extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed, as well as red wine, coffee and tea.
The researchers think that the lignans have a prebiotic impact, influencing in a positive way the intestinal bacteria. The yogurt with active cultures has a probiotic impact in the gut, adding to the intestinal bacteria. We already know that can improve the immune response, and aide digestion and absorption of nutrients. So somehow the lignans and yogurt have a positive impact on cholesterol and glucose via the gut.
It might be worth adding a yogurt each day – perhaps as a snack between meals. And then it is very easy to cook with extra-virgin olive oil or use it in a salad dressing, or add ground flaxseed to oatmeal.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.