Lowering Cholesterol Naturally
There's been a lot of media coverage recently regarding reducing your cholesterol. There's an ongoing debate regarding the disadvantages and benefits of statins (medication for reducing cholesterol).
Goldilocks had the right idea when she happily ate all of the three bear's porridge. Forget taking statins with detrimental side effects when the real key to a great cardiovascular system can be found in porridge. New research from the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork discovered that beta-glucan, found in porridge lowered “LDL” (bad) cholesterol in mice to a similar level as the statin Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Dr George Grimble from the University College London says that consuming 3 grams of beta-glucan daily has the same effects as a statin, without the side effects. To get the required amount of beta-glucan into your system, it would mean you'd have to eat multiple bowls of porridge. Thankfully it's also available in powder format which can be taken with water or juice, or it can be added to your smoothies, porridge or yoghurt. You can find out more about it here.
Statins come under a range of different names such as Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Crestor, Lescol, Livalo or the ill-fated Baycol which are prescribed by doctors to lower bad cholesterol. However, they come with many side effects such as a weakened immune system, headaches, memory loss, confusion, depression, muscle and joint pain and increased risk of diabetes- to name a few.
It is essential to incorporate beta glucan into your diet if you are hoping to improve your heart health.
Oat beta glucan and reducing LDL
Porridge is key to cardiovascular success because it contains a soluble fibre called Oat Beta Glucan, which has cholesterol-lowering effects. Porridge is low in fat and sugar, yet abundant in nutrients like soluble fibre, copper, magnesium, Iron and B complex vitamins.
Although Oat beta glucan can be found in other grains such as rye and barley, porridge obtains the highest amount. This type of soluble fibre has been found to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.
It is so beneficial that the EU 2006 regulation depicts that oat beta-glucan contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels by increasing HDL cholesterol levels and reducing LDL and total cholesterol.
Oat beta-glucan has been proven to lower cholesterol as it forms a thick, wallpaper paste-like gel in the gut causing cholesterol to stick to it.
Therefore, cholesterol doesn’t get absorbed and is excreted by the body.
Oat beta glucan also helps with the excretion of bile salts. These salts are made up of cholesterol so the more bile salts that leave the body the less cholesterol there will be circulating in the blood.
Not only does Oat Beta Glucan reduce your LDL cholesterol and boost your HDL, it also enables weight management. It forms a gel in the gut which gives you a full satisfied feeling and controls your appetite. Porridge oats have a low glycemic index meaning that energy is released slowly into the bloodstream leading to a small release of insulin and avoids spikes in your blood sugar.
Tip- although porridge has the power to control sugar levels, purchasing the wrong kind can have its consequences. Instant, speedy porridge has a higher glycemic index than traditional porridge because they are made from processing or milling oats more. It also contains significantly less beta-glucan than traditional porridge. Instant porridge can decrease your body’s sensitivity to insulin and can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you are worried about gaining weight eating porridge, you can take a beta glucan supplement which has all the benefits without the calories.
Tip two- adding too much sugar, fruit or honey to your porridge depletes the nutritional value you were trying to achieve. If you cannot stomach porridge without a sweetener try taking a beta glucan supplement which can be found here.
Oat Beta Glucan and a healthy Gut
The APC Microbiome institute in Cork found that oat beta-glucan specifically promoted the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms. It acts as a probiotic, which is good bacteria that helps enhance our resistance to infection from bad bacteria, yeasts, and parasites.