High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol is a common affliction in Western countries, due to an ever-growing prevalence of poor dietary habits. The condition rarely causes harm in the initial stages, but can lead to further complications like diabetes, erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease. Fortunately, pomegranate juice may help reverse some of these risks.

Cholesterol is transported in the blood by two proteins, high-density lipoprotein (HDK) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

LDL is a hindrance to cardiovascular health because it directly contributes to the furring of the arteries.

It is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, which subsequently slows blood flow to the organs.

The NHS defines atherosclerosis a “potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma”.

Some studies probing the effects of pomegranate juice on lipid profiles have made promising discoveries about its cholesterol-busting capabilities.

In one study, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers observed notable reductions in plaque thickness in patients consuming pomegranate after one year.

Results showed that the carotid artery was reduced by up to 30 percent in individuals drinking pomegranate juice, compared to nine percent increase in carotid intima-media thickness noted in those consuming a placebo drink.

The findings also showed that “systolic blood pressure was reduced after one year of pomegranate juice consumption by 12 percent and was not further reduced along three years of […] consumption”.

Very Well Health suggests the polyphenols in pomegranate, which are its main source of antioxidant activity, could be accountable for these effects.

The chemicals are known to improve the function of the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels.

The study authors noted: “The results of the present study […] suggest that pomegranate juice consumption by patients with carotid artery stenosis decreases carotid intimal-media thickness and systolic blood pressure.

“[…] These effects could be related to the potent antioxidant characteristics of pomegranate juice polyphenols.”

Other ways to unclog arteries

According to WebMD, the plaque that accumulates on the inner walls of the arteries is made from various substances that circulate in the blood.

These include

  • Calcium
  • Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Cellular waste
  • Fibrin, a material involved in blood clotting.

“In response to plaque build-up, cells in your artery walls multiply and secrete additional substances that can worsen the state of clogged arteries,” adds the health body.

To prevent this build-up it’s imperative to cut down on foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol.

Instead, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help due to the high soluble fibre content of these foods.

When consumed, the soluble fibre becomes a thick gel in the intestines, which slows digestion and traps fats to prevent their absorption.

Plant sterols and stanols, which are abundant in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, can also limit the amount of cholesterol that is able to enter the body.

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