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Harvard names 11 cholesterol cutting foods

By Guy Montague-Jones , 13-Oct-2009
Last updated on 14-Oct-2009 at 09:20 GMT

Harvard Medical School has recommended 11 foods including nuts and fatty fish that make easy work of lowering cholesterol.

The newly published list contains quite different foods that are all capable of lowering cholesterol but do so in different ways.

Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Others give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL, and some contain plant sterols and stenols that block cholesterol absorption.

All the 11 cholesterol fighting food groups are listed below.

  1. Oats
  2. Barley and other whole grains
  3. Beans
  4. Eggplant and Okra
  5. Nuts
  6. Vegetable oils
  7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
  8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols
  9. Soy
  10. Fatty fish
  11. Fiber supplements

Harvard Medical School elaborated on this list with information on potential sources of these food groups and data on their nutritional value.

It recommends that people turn to oat-based cereals like Cheerios to boost their consumption of oats to the recommended level of 20 to 35 grams a day. The average American only gets about half that amount.

For other food groups Harvard Medical School gives precise details of their cholesterol fighting impact. It says eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can reduce LDL by about 5 percent while 25 grams of soy protein (10 ounces of tofu and 2.5 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by a similar amount.

To reduce LDL even further Harvard Medical School recommends foods fortified with sterols and stenols. Just two grams of plant stenols or sterols can lower LDL by about 10 percent.

Fiber supplements also make the list but the accompanying text says they offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Beans, whole grains, oats, eggplant and okra are other soluble fiber alternatives on the list.

When comes to deciding on which foods to choose from Harvard Medical School advises people to take a broad approach. Just as investors should have a wide portfolio to cut risks people should eat from a wide portfolio of cholesterol fighting foods to reduce the risk of heart disease.

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