Fruits proven to lower cholesterol – full of flavonoids

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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People with high cholesterol have an increased risk for multiple serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. This is because cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood that can build-up over time. If left untreated this can lead to blockages.

Having high cholesterol is often caused by an unhealthy diet full of fatty foods, although it is also linked to a lack of exercise, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

It can also run in families.

However, in the same way that diet can be responsible for high cholesterol, it can also be utilised to reduce it.

Experts will recommend a balanced diet packed with fruit and vegetables as a good starting point.

One type of fruit linked to the lowering of cholesterol is citrus fruit, which includes lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit.

This is because they are rich in flavonoids, a type of compound found in plants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol.

One study, published in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity journal in 2019, found that the flavonoids in citrus fruits could help lower hyperlipidemia – another name for high cholesterol.

“The available data suggests that citrus flavonoids are likely to confer protection against cardiovascular disease,” it said.

“The ability of citrus flavonoids to reduce oxidative stress, hyperlipidemia, and inflammation and to improve endothelial function, arterial blood pressure, and lipid metabolism may be responsible for their therapeutic role against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.”

Separate research, published in Diseases journal in 2017, also found that flavonoids were cholesterol-lowering.

It said: “Flavonoids may be relevant in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis-related disorders as they act as antioxidant, hypocholesterolemic and antidiabetic agents.”

Two citrus fruits in particular were proven to lower cholesterol through a set of animal trials.

A study, published in the American Chemical Society journal in 2004, found that the peel from oranges and tangerines contain a flavonoid called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), which have the most cholesterol-lowering properties of any flavonoid.

Using hamster models with diet-induced high cholesterol, the researchers showed that feeding them food containing one percent PMFs lowered levels of low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) by up to 40 percent.

Lead investigator of the study, Elzbieta Kurowska, commented: “Our study has shown that PMFs have the most potent cholesterol-lowering effect of any other citrus flavonoid

“We believe that PMFs have the potential to rival and even beat the cholesterol-lowering effect of some prescription drugs, without the risk of side effects.”

Most people will not know whether they have high cholesterol unless they get tested.

A healthy level of total cholesterol is considered to be five millimoles per litre (mmol/l) or less.

If your levels are too high there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to reduce them.

These include:

  • Eating less saturated fat
  • Eating more oily fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds
  • Exercising more
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing your alcohol intake.

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