Why cholesterol is bad for you
If you have high cholesterol it means you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
This has the potential to become dangerous as they can form deposits in the blood vessels, restricting blood flow, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
A major risk factor for having high cholesterol is diet, with foods high in saturated fats the biggest contributor.
However, diet can also help lower cholesterol levels.
An expert spoke with Express.co.uk about how to do so.
Shona Wilkinson, consultant registered nutritionist of Freshcano, recommended adding peaches to your diet if you have concerns about your cholesterol levels.
“Peaches are great for keeping your cholesterol levels in check,” she said.
“They are low in saturated fat and a great source of fibre.”
She explained that fibre can help lower cholesterol in several ways.
Binding to cholesterol
“Soluble fibre has the ability to bind to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing absorption into the bloodstream,” she said.
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“This reduces the amount of cholesterol available for the body to use or store.”
Increasing bile acid excretion
She said: “Soluble fibre can also increase the excretion of bile acids. Bile acids are made from cholesterol in the liver and are important for digestion.
“When fibre binds to bile acids in the intestines, it promotes their elimination from the body.
“This prompts the liver to use more cholesterol to produce new bile acids thereby reducing the overall cholesterol levels.”
Slowing down digestion
Ms Wilkinson added: “Fibre-rich foods such as peaches take longer to digest compared to processed foods.
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“The slow digestion rate helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents rapid spikes in insulin which can contribute to the production of cholesterol in the body.”
What does research say?
One study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013, found that peaches were among other fruits shown to lower cholesterol levels due to their flavonoids and stilbene content.
A trial of almost 1,400 people found that people who consumed peaches, as well as apples, plums or pears, had lowered levels of lipids – fats in the blood.
“The richest sources of flavonoids and stilbenes were the fruit group including apple, plum, pear, and peach, followed by the vegetable group containing lotus root and taro.”
It concluded: “The daily intakes of flavonoid and stilbene were estimated in the present study, and higher dietary flavonoid intake was associated with improving lipid profile in Chinese women.
“The results indicate that dietary flavonoids may have [a] beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular diseases.”
Another paper, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2015, trialled the consumption of peach and plum juice on rodents.
It said: “Results show that peach and plum juice consumption protected against a combination of obesity-induced metabolic disorders including hyperglycemia, insulin and leptin resistance, dyslipidemia and low-density lipoprotein oxidation.”
To lower cholesterol levels the NHS recommends:
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and cutting back saturated fat intake
- Exercising at least 150 minutes a week
- Quitting smoking
- Lowering alcohol intake.
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