Continued from Part 1… How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain
Read how plaque invades your blood vessels here.
Foods that Lower “Bad Cholesterol”
You can lower your numbers by adding more fiber to your diet, particularly, beta-glucan (pronounced “glue-can”).
Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber also known as “oat gum”. Think of soluble fiber as a “cholesterol sponge”. It mops up LDLs in your intestines and gets rid of them with other waste. This keeps excesses from accumulating in your blood vessels and making plaque.
Foods High in Beta-Glucan
Beta-glucan is found in the cell walls of cereals. It’s the main component of soluble fiber in oats and barley. Beta-glucan is what gives your morning oatmeal it’s creamy, viscous texture.
- Whole oats
- Whole oat flour (1 1/4 cups of rolled oats will yield 1 cup of oat flour)
- Rolled oats (oats are heated and rolled flat)
- Steel-cut oats (oats are thinly sliced lengthwise)
- Oatmeal (the inner part of the oat grout)
- Oat bran (the outer husk of the oat grout; lighter and finer than wheat bran)
- Barley* (choose hull-ness, not pearled)
- Whole barley flour
*Pearl or pearled barley has been processed to remove some or all of the outer bran layer resulting in a quicker cooking time.
How Oat Bran Lowered LDL (“Bad Cholesterol”)
In one study, beta-glucan significantly reduced the total and LDL cholesterol levels of adults with elevated cholesterol levels without changing the HDL (“good cholesterol”). Subjects consumed 2.9 g beta-glucan TWICE a day for 4 weeks. This amount is equivalent to a daily dose of about 70 g of oat bran (almost 2/3 cup dry).
An analysis of other studies conducted over 13 years supported the intake found that eating 3 grams ONCE a day of oat beta-glucan can lower total cholesterol by 5% in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 7%, thus reducing major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Remember… atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) is a chronic disease which means it is persistent, long-lasting in its effects, and requires medical attention.
To get in at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan a day, eat rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or oat bran in the following serving sizes:
- Oat bran, 1/3 cup dry (6 g fiber)
- Steel-cut oats*, 1/2 cup dry (8 g fiber)
- Rolled oats, 3/4 cup dry OR 2/3 cup oat flour (7.5 g fiber)
*Steel cut oats contain more fiber than rolled oats.
Cooking with Oats
- Oats are extremely versatile. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, pancakes, pie crusts, nutrition bars, cookies, crackers, crumble toppings, and as a coating for fish.
- They naturally thicken food. You can use these nutty-tasting oats to thicken soups and stews.
- Use oat groats instead of rice in a pilaf.
- Oat beta-glucan soluble fiber can also be added to beverages/liquids, such as smoothies, yogurt drinks, juice drinks), yogurt, soups, sauces, and dressings.
- Add some oats to your smoothies to make them more satisfying and nourishing. The fiber will help slow down digestion which can stabilize your blood sugar.
Karen’s Fit Tip: Eat at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, but you can lower your risk by including certain foods into your daily eating plan.
Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower LDL numbers.