Whole Brown Rice Lowers LDL Cholesterol
Here's yet another reason to rely on whole foods, such as brown rice, for your healthy way of eating: the oil in whole brown rice, not its fiber, lowers cholesterol.
When Marlene Most and colleagues from Louisiana State University evaluated the effects of rice bran and rice bran oil on cholesterol levels in volunteers with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, they found that rice bran oil, but not rice bran, lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The study, published in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was divided into two parts. First, 26 subjects ate a diet including 13-22g of dietary fiber each day for three weeks, after which 13 switched to a diet that added defatted rice bran to double their fiber intake for five weeks. In the second part of the study, a randomized crossover trial, 14 subjects ate a diet with rice bran oil for 10 weeks.
While the diet including only defatted rice bran did not lower cholesterol, the one containing rice bran oil lowered LDL cholesterol by 7%. Since all the diets contained similar fatty acids, the researchers concluded that the reduction in cholesterol seen in those receiving rice bran oil must have been due to other constituents such as the unsaponifiable compounds found in rice bran oil. The scientists suggest that the unsaponifiables present in rice bran oil could become important functional foods for cardiovascular health. But why extract just one beneficial compound from brown rice when you can reap all the cardioprotective benefits supplied by the matrix of nutrients naturally present in this delicious whole food? In addition to unsaponifiables, this whole grain also supplies hefty doses of heart-healthy fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins....... Well, there is more to this story and the last word on this is that it is not all as healthy as it looks. We are only beginning to understand what causes our LDL to rise, or better put : what signals the liver to start making more LDL.
Something apparently is happening that calls for an increase in LDL cholesterol. Usually that is when there is a problem, damage.
Let's consider the role of inflammation in your body. In many respects, it's a good thing as it's your body's natural response to invaders it perceives as threats. If you get a cut for instance, the process of inflammation is what allows you to heal.......
Your blood vessels constrict to keep you from bleeding to death Your blood becomes thicker so it can clot Your immune system sends cells and chemicals to fight viruses, bacteria and other "bad guys" that could infect the area Cells multiply to repair the damage
Ultimately, the cut is healed and a protective scar may form over the area.
If your arteries are damaged, something like it occurs inside of your body, except that a "scar" in your artery is known as plaque.
This plaque, along with the thickening of your blood and constricting of your blood vessels that normally occur during the inflammatory process, can indeed increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Notice that cholesterol has yet to even enter the picture. Cholesterol comes in because, in order to replace your damaged cells, it is necessary. Remember that no cell can form without it.
So if you have damaged cells that need to be replaced, your liver will be notified to make more cholesterol and release it into your bloodstream. This is a deliberate process that takes place in order for your body to produce new, healthy cells.
It's also possible, and quite common, for damage to occur in your body on a regular basis. In this case, you will be in a dangerous state of chronic inflammation. The test usually used to determine if you have chronic inflammation is a C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test. CRP level is used as a marker of inflammation in your arteries.
A CRP level under 1 milligrams per liter of blood means you have a low risk for cardiovascular disease
1 to 3 milligrams means your risk is intermediate
More than 3 milligrams is high risk
Even conventional medicine is warming up to the idea that chronic inflammation can trigger heart attacks. But they stop short of seeing the big picture. In the eyes of conventional medicine, when they see increased cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, they conclude that it -- not the underlying damage to your arteries -- is the cause of heart attacks.
Lowering your LDL, or preventing your liver from making extra is like preventing an ambulance from getting to a patient because ambulances are associated with misadventure, illness, etc.
Almonds Improve Cholesterol Profile
It is becoming more and more clear that Cholesterol is not the bad kid after all. If we don't get enough, the liver will make extra.
However the profile is becoming more important. For reasons as of yet not completely clear, some people with always have high cholesterol, called familial hypercholesterolemia. These people are not necesarily at higher risk at all. More people die of heart disease with low cholesterol than with high cholesterol. The relationship between LDL and HDL appears to be far more important.
When there is a high level of LDL crowding your arteries (usually because of inflammation) you need a high level of HDL to clear things out.
So you want to help your LDL by taking in as many antioxidants as possible and thereby reducing the need for high level LDL and at the same time you want to raise your HDL to help the unclogging and diminish the chance of artery damage and plaque forming.
According to recently released National Academy of Sciences Dietary Reference Intake report, Americans are only consuming half the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 15 milligrams of vitamin E a day. A study published in the March 2005 Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that enjoying a handful of almonds every day can do much to prevent Americans' vitamin E shortfall.
Researchers at Loma Linda University gave 16 healthy men and women (8 men, 8 women) three different diets for four weeks each: a control diet with no almonds, a low-almond diet and a high-almond diet. In the low- and high-almond diets, 10 percent and 20 percent of total calories, respectively, were replaced with almonds; the equivalent of one to two handfuls of almonds a day. Study participants took no dietary supplements before or during the study. After each four week diet, changes in their blood levels of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E and their cholesterol levels were evaluated.
Results showed that when 10 percent of the subjects' calories came from almonds, their blood levels of vitamin E increased 13.7%. When 20 percent of subjects' calories were supplied by almonds, their vitamin E levels increased 18.7%. In addition to increasing their blood levels of vitamin E, study participants also reduced their total cholesterol by 5%, and their LDL or "bad" cholesterol dropped nearly 7% percent when consuming the high-almond diet.
Almonds are a leading food source of vitamin E: a one-ounce handful provides 7.4 mg or about 50% percent of the RDA for this important antioxidant, plus health-protective monounsaturated fats, dietary fiber, protein and important minerals. So snack on a handful of almonds or add them to your daily meals. You'll significantly boost your vitamin E levels and improve your cholesterol profile, both of which promote your cardiovascular health. One caveat: pass on highly salted almonds and those roasted at high temperatures. Too much sodium in the diet is a cardiovascular risk factor, and roasting nuts at high temperatures destroys their vitamin E and damages their healthy fats. To get the most benefit from your daily handful of almonds, choose organic nuts and eat them raw, or if you really enjoy roasted salted nuts, mist your almonds with Bragg's Liquid Aminos or a low sodium soy sauce, spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 170° until just toasted-15-20 minutes. Another added benefit: roasting your own almonds will also cut your cost for these roasted nuts by at least half.
US Food and Drug Administration is now admitting a health claim for ... nuts. Their newly approved statement: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Research from the Iowa Women's Study (more than 40,000 postmenopausal women followed for eight years) showed that subjects who ate nuts on a regular basis reduced their heart disease risk by 40 percent. And in the similar Nurses' Health Study, those who ate five or more ounces of nuts each day had a 39 percent lower risk of a fatal heart attack than women who never ate nuts at all.
Nuts have good fiber, carbohydrate content isn't a serious issue (unless you're on a zero-carb diet). But if you're trying to curb the carbs, the nut to avoid is the cashew. One ounce of cashews (about a handful) contains 9 grams of carbs, but only 1 gram of fiber. That's 8 net carbs, and no other nut comes close to that amount. The next highest in the carb category is the pistachio with 5 net carbs. Most of the others have only 2 or 3 net carbs.
The lowest on the carbo-meter is the pecan, with just 1 net carb per ounce.
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