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Natural Ways of Reducing Bad Cholesterol Levels

A group of researchers found that eating 45 grams of dark chocolate in a day for a period of 16 weeks can potentially reduce the cholesterol levels of diabetic patients.

Understanding Bad Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol in the body: the good and bad. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is referred to as bad cholesterol since high levels of LDL results to a higher risk of developing coronary and cardiovascular diseases. It interferes with healthy blood flow by sticking on artery walls and forming a thick and hard cholesterol plaque. This narrows the blood passages in a process called atherosclerosis.

There’s a good type of cholesterol, on the other hand, that is essential in preventing and reversing the adverse effects of LDL accumulation by extracting the bad cholesterol from the walls of the artery and removing them from the body through the liver. The body needs to have more of the good cholesterol in order to function properly. Good cholesterol is responsible for promoting the fluidity and permeability of membranes and it is also essential in the manufacturing of bile acids that breaks down fats and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin A.

A person’s bad cholesterol level is greatly influenced by his diet and hereditary condition. Eating foods with high contents of saturated fats will result to the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood. Rich sources of saturated fats are dairy products and meat. Vegetable oils from cocoa, palm and coconut are also rich in saturated fats. There is a specific health condition which may result to high LDL levels despite minimal intake of saturated fats. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia which literally means more cholesterol in the blood. It can be inherited and is usually brought about by the lack of cholesterol receptors in the cells of the liver. Note that the liver is responsible for the processing of LDL cholesterol. This condition can result to atherosclerosis and other coronary diseases in early adulthood. High cholesterol levels have also been linked by different studies to diabetes.

There will always be a natural way of reducing the risk of health conditions such as coronary diseases and diabetes. Medical experts will always recommend healthy diet and active lifestyle on top of anything else. A group of researchers from the Hull York Medical School of the University of Hull found that eating one of our most favorite bitter-sweet treats can reduce the cholesterol levels of diabetic patients.

Dark Chocolate against High Cholesterol in Diabetics

An Overview

A group of researchers from the Hull York Medical School published a study in Diabetic Medicine saying that dark chocolate has the capacity to lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from diabetes. Their findings may sound incongruous but they have found that eating 45 grams of dark chocolate reduced the cholesterol levels of 12 diabetic participants in a study period of 4 months. The head of the research team and professor of diabetes and endocrinology, Steve Atkins, said that their study demonstrated that dark chocolate can result to the reduction of cardiovascular risk caused by insulin resistance and being overweight. The 12 participants had type 2 diabetes, a condition wherein cells are weakly responsive to insulin naturally produced by the body.

The Benefits of Polyphenols

The researchers linked the positive results of their study to polyphenols found in cocoa. This compound has a powerful anti-inflammatory property, making it a strong and effective antioxidant. As its natural function, polyphenols protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which causes it to become glued to artery walls, causing atherosclerosis. A person can maintain high levels of polyphenols in the body by eating foods rich in polyphenols; topping the list is cacao alongside green tea and wine. The researchers suggested for chocolate manufacturers to create smaller packages of dark chocolate bars in order to give individuals with diabetes a better way to manage their intake of polyphenol-rich chocolates and so they can better take advantage of its benefits in lowering their blood cholesterol levels.

The Methodology and Results

The researchers recruited a group of 12 diabetic patients and gave them 3 bars of 15-gram dark chocolate bars per day for a period of 16 weeks. The chocolate bars contained 85 percent cocoa and other placebo bars did not have any cocoa content and was only dyed to achieve the same color as dark chocolate. They said that the bars were no bigger than a banana and, unlike the usual way of eating a banana, the bars were eaten at different points of the day. The researchers also said that dark chocolate has a low glycaemic index which related to the release of glucose into the blood stream from sugars.

Though the researchers used a very small group, the participants did not report any increase in weight nor did they experience problems in controlling their blood sugar levels brought by their existing health condition. They said that the study is only a preliminary of more and bigger studies to come and they will be releasing more information regarding their findings in the following days.

Foods against Bad Cholesterol

The body’s bad cholesterol level is a major health concern. High levels of bad cholesterol in the body may result to coronary problems and other serious health problems. But eating the right kind of foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help in managing cholesterol levels and promoting a healthier body.

  • The body needs soluble fiber in order to sweep out saturated fats which can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Soluble fiber can be found in oatmeal, prunes, barley, pears apples and kidney beans. Including some of the fiber-rich foods in ones daily diet can reduce the risk of developing diseases caused by bad cholesterol.
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, lake trout and mackerel can also help in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing blood pressure by preventing the clotting of the blood and the accumulation of bad cholesterol on the walls of the arteries.
  • Almonds, walnuts and other kinds of nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which helps maintain the smooth passage of blood through the blood vessels and reduce blood cholesterol levels. Eating around 43 grams of nuts can lower the risk of developing heart diseases according to the Food and Drug Administration. But keep in mind that nuts are packed with calories so eating a handful can be enough.
  • Other foods that can lower bad cholesterol levels are those fortified with plant sterols like yogurt drinks, orange juice and margarine. Eating at least 2 grams of plant sterols through rich food sources can lower LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent.

Sources:
nutraingredients.com
medicinenet.com
raysahelian.com
mayoclinic.com
webmd.com

Related Posts

  1. Your Cholesterol Levels Can Tell Doctors a Lot About You
  2. Cacao Found to Normalize Blood Sugar Levels, Researchers Report
  3. Low HDL Cholesterol Levels: A Risk Factor for Dementia, Study Shows
  4. Nuts as Natural Cholesterol Busters
  5. Your Heart Truly Loves Chocolate!
  


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