Tortilla Chips To Lower Blood Cholesterol?
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Cardio-vascular Health

Cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart attack

Tortilla Chips To Lower Blood Cholesterol?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What's one of the most important rules in medicine today? It's "Never take a drug if a natural and safer remedy provides the same relief". Today millions of people are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart attack. But this therapy comes with a price. Some patients develop muscle cramps, liver and kidney problems and some have died. Good sense dictates that it's prudent to first try other ways to lower blood cholesterol.

Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner, says a high dose of vitamin C before breakfast is a smart way to start the day. How much you take depends on your tolerance of C. Too much may cause diarrhea. But most people can tolerate 2,000 milligrams (mg). Ascorbic acid powder (vitamin C) is the least expensive way to buy this vitamin. A flat teaspoon equals 5,000 mg and can be mixed with orange juice.

Vitamin C increases the rate of removal of cholesterol from the blood by converting cholesterol into bile acids that are then excreted by the bowel. Taking vitamin C before breakfast often triggers a bowel movement and removes bile acids before they can be reabsorbed and converted back to cholesterol.

As well, I tell my patients to start the day with Oat bran. It's low in saturated fat and contains neither trans fat nor cholesterol. Oat Bran is a soluble fiber which reduces the body's absorption of cholesterol from the intestines. Adding a banana or other fruit to the cereal makes it more palatable. Soluble fiber is also found in prunes, apples, pears and kidney beans.

During this festive season a glass of wine (but not at breakfast!) will boost high density lipoprotein (HDL) the good cholesterol. HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood. But according to a recent report in the journal, Nature, not all wines are created equal. Wines from southwestern France are superior since they contain high levels of procyanidins, found in grape seeds that are heart healthy. This compound blocks a protein associated with heart disease.

Red wine has two additional advantages. It decreases the formation of endothelium-1, a chemical that makes coronary vessels less likely to constrict, causing angina. And by making blood platelets (part of the blood clotting system) slippery, there's less chance of a fatal blood clot. But remember moderation.

Soy protein found in tofu, soy nuts and soy burgers, will also give a boost to HDL. In one study researchers gave patients 40 grams of soy protein in the form of cookies. After 12 weeks there was a five per cent increase in HDL.

There are also natural ways to lower low density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad cholesterol. Dr David Jenkins, Director of Clinical Nutrition at St. Michaels' Hospital in Toronto, studied 27 men with high cholesterol for three months. He reports that two handfuls of almonds a day decreased LDL by 9.4 per cent. And that it decreased the risk of cardiovascular accident by 20 per cent.

Researchers at the Nutrition Research Center report that adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon to coffee, cereal or toast will decrease LDL by 20 per cent. A daily dose of five grams of psyllium three times a day with meals also lowers LDL.

In another study, black tea consumed three times a day for three weeks decreased total cholesterol 6.5 per cent and LDL 11.1 per cent. It's believed that tea blocks the absorption of dietary cholesterol. And one to two cloves of raw garlic or a 300 mg garlic powder tablet taken three times a day lowers cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels 8 to 12 per cent. But don't forget to follow with a breath mint!

What about sterol-enriched tortilla chips to crunch cholesterol? Sterols in plants called phytosterols help block the absorption of cholesterol. In a study at Brandeis University subjects ate two one-ounce servings of phytosterol enriched tortilla chips daily for four weeks. This resulted in a 15 per cent decrease in LDL and a 10 per cent decrease in total cholesterol. You may see these chips on grocery shelves soon.

Lastly, get out of your chair. Daily exercise increases HDL.


W. Gifford-Jones M.D Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker's website is: docgiff.com.
Dr. Walker can be reached at info@docgiff.com















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