The B complex — If you do not consume optimal amounts of B vitamins, an artery-damaging amino acid known as homocystiene can form in your blood and studies indicate that patients with even slightly elevated levels of homocystiene have over three times the risk of heart disease. Vitamin B6 in particular has many mechanisms by which it protects our heart. It prevents cholesterol from a damaging process which in turn clogs arteries.
This orange-yellow pigment found in fruits and vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow and orange peppers, apricots, leafy green vegetables) plays a significant role in the prevention of heart and artery disease. Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes that plays an important role along with beta carotene in protecting LDL cholesterol from sticking to the arteries.
While vitamin E and beta carotene can slow the oxidation of cholesterol once it has begun; only vitamin C can completely prevent it from occurring. Vitamin C has been found in fruits and vegetables and if consumed on a daily basis, can go a long way in keeping your heart safe and healthy.
There are many studies that show nuts are valuable sources of nutrients that help the body metabolising cholesterol effectively. Both walnuts and almonds have been shown to have positive effects and should be eaten raw and fresh and should be stored in refrigerator to prevent rancidity.
Fruits and vegetables
Fresh produce, while a good source of vitamins and minerals may be most valuable as a source of a group of nonvitamin antioxidant compounds known as bioflavonoid and polyphones. These substances powerfully protect against cholesterol oxidation. So it is extremely important to consume five servings per day of fruits and vegetables and is the only way to ensure that you are getting significant amounts of these protective factors.
Foods such as capsicum, garlic, ginger, turmeric and a wide variety of other spices have been found to lower cholesterol, nourish the heart, thin the blood, and prevent cholesterol oxidation.
Sugar raises cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin and increases the stickiness of platelets.
High insulin levels make cholesterol more likely to stick to artery walls. Sugar depletes chromium and increases the cholesterol raising properties of saturated fats. Sugar consumption will decrease the population of beneficial bacteria that keep cholesterol low and it also interferes with the antioxidant activity of vitamin C, increasing the likelihood that free radicals will damage cholesterol.
Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah Hospital