High blood pressure and cholesterol are some common health problems that now affect a large size of the population across the world, including India. High cholesterol and hypertension are linked and are a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. The concern is that when a person has more than one risk factor – like high blood pressure and cholesterol – the risk of developing heart disease is much worse. Having two means, you need to make significant changes in your life such as eating a diet that may help improve these conditions. According to a new study, a diet that includes peanuts, chickpeas, apples and a little amount of plant sterols may lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure, reports IANS. The diet is based on the ‘Portfolio Diet’, a plant-based dietary pattern that emphasises a portfolio of four proven cholesterol-lowering foods.
“Previous clinical trials and observational studies have found strong evidence that a plant-based diet can improve heart health,” said one of the study authors, Hana Kahleova, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC. “This study demonstrates that certain plant foods are especially effective for lowering cholesterol and boosting our overall cardiovascular health,” Kahleova added. Read: Struggling with high cholesterol level? Here’s what to eat and what to avoid
The diet included 42 grams of nuts (tree nuts or peanuts), 50 grams of plant protein from soy products or dietary pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils), 20 grams of viscous soluble fiber from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, or berries and two grams of plant sterols from supplements or plant-sterol enriched products per day.
The researchers found that a diet consisting of plant protein, fiber, nuts and plant sterols improves several markers for cardiovascular disease risk including reductions in cholesterol level and improvements in blood pressure.
The results indicated that following the dietary pattern reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the ‘bad’ cholesterol by 17 percent. It was also found to reduce total cholesterol, triglcyerides, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein. The study, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, also observed that the diet also reduced 10-year coronary heart disease risk by 13 percent.
The researchers added that these findings are a statistical procedure that integrates the results of several independent studies.
Earlier, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that eating a handful of almonds a day can lower bad cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. The study done by researchers at Pennsylvania State University said that regular intake of a handful of almonds increased levels of mature ‘good cholesterol’ particles, which are associated with cardiovascular health, by 19%.