High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol is a condition characterised by high concentrations of fatty substances in the blood. Fat has often been demonised as the driving force behind high cholesterol rates. But academics stress that not all fats should be shunned. One nut, which is abundant in monounsaturated fat, could lower levels of harmful cholesterol within hours of intake.
Brazil nuts appear to offer unique lipid-lowering effects, that have been observed within hours of intake.
One study conducted in Brazil set out to establish the effects of Brazil nut ingestion on lipid profiles in a sample of 10 healthy volunteers.
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, revealed marked improvements in participants’ lipid profiles, which further improved over time.
The authors explained: “Each subject was tested four times in a randomised crossover in relation to the ingestion of different serving sizes of the Brazil nut; 0.5, 20, or 50 grams.”
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Blood was drawn from the participants at each treatment point, at one, three, six, nine, 24, and 48 hours and five and 30 days of treatment.
Researchers analysed the sample for total cholesterol, high and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, selenium and other key profiles.
The team said: “A significant increase of the plasma selenium levels was observed at six hours within the groups receiving the nuts.”
Levels of LDL cholesterol were significantly lower, and HDL cholesterol significantly higher at nine hours after infection of 20 or 50 grams of the nut.
What’s more, participants saw a marked increase in HDL levels of 32 percent, while LDL concentrations dropped by 23 percent after 30 days of treatment.
The researchers concluded: “This study shows that the ingestion of a single serving of Brazil nut can actually improve the serum lipid profile of healthy volunteers.”
Brazil nuts contain 20 different selenoproteins which contain important antioxidant enzymes known to diminish inflammation and lipid profiles.
The nut, however, contains a high proportion of monounsaturated fat, which is deemed beneficial for people affected by high cholesterol.
A unique polyphenol known as ellagic acid is also found in Brazil nuts.
Selenium is an essential antioxidant required for the functioning of a healthy immune system.
One single nut contains on average 68 to 91 mcg of selenium.
This nutrient has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that offer neuro-protective and anti-depressant effects.
In fact, research has shown selenium could support key brain singling pathways inside the central nervous system.
These findings are particularly relevant for patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Although selenium is a key health nutrient, however, brazil nuts should be consumed in moderation to avoid adverse side effects.
Cases of severe toxicity and poisoning have been reported in relation to both over-consumption of Brazil nuts and overdosing on selenium supplements.
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