September 18, 2009

Sweeten your heart-healthy diet — and lower your cholesterol even more

As you may know, I talk a lot about diet as the best fix for most health problems, especially heart disease. However, one of the complaints I get from people is that they're tired of their "bland" diet. Well, how would you like to sweeten your heart-healthy diet and lower your cholesterol at the same time?

You really can do it. All you have to do is add more berries to your diet — strawberries in particular.

Researchers conducted a one-month study on 28 subjects with high lipids. For an average of two-and-a-half years, all of the participants ate a "low cholesterol diet" (soy, viscous fiber, plant sterols, and nuts). Then, for one month, the researchers had them eat either strawberries (one pound per day) or oat bran bread.

Here's what they found: The strawberries reduced oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol even more effectively than the popular oat bran bread (65 gm daily, including 2 gm of beta glucan). In addition, strawberries were as effective as oat bran bread in improving lipids.

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But there's one more important finding that came out of this study. The researchers found that the strawberries improved the participant's happiness with the diet! Not only are strawberries great for you, but they can make a heart healthy diet far more palatable — which means you're more likely to stay on the diet.

And remember, cholesterol is not the bad guy. I've said this for years. What's important is what your body does with the cholesterol. When cholesterol oxidizes, it promotes significant inflammation and is very atherogenic. LDL cholesterol is extremely vulnerable to oxidation.

This is where strawberries have a one-two punch. They reduce LDL and reduce its oxidation. Berries in general are just jam-packed with God-made phytochemicals that protect your body. This is not limited to strawberries, but most all berries. I grow raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. If you can't grow them, Costco has come to the rescue. It now carries frozen organic blueberries. Organic strawberries may be next, especially if you ask.

Please add lots and lots of berries to your diet. Your eyes, heart, blood vessels — and taste buds will be most grateful.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Ref: Metabolism, 2008; 57(12): 1636-1644.

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