every day. Grapefruit is gaining ground as a power food. New research shows
that it can fight heart disease and cancer, trigger your body to lose weight,
and even help you get a better night’s sleep. A grapefruit a day can lower
your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 8 and 11 percent,
Cram in the cranberry. Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania
found that men who drank three glasses of cranberry juice daily raised
their HDL (good) cholesterol levels by 10 percent, which in turn lowered their
risk of heart disease by 40 percent. Plant compounds called polyphenols are
believed to be responsible for the effect. (Note: Cranberry juice often comes
diluted, so make sure the label says that it contains at least 27 percent cranberry
Spread some on. Instead of butter or margarine, try Benecol spread. It contains
stanol ester, a plant substance that inhibits cholesterol absorption. A
study at the Mayo Clinic found that people eating 41⁄2 tablespoons of Benecol
daily lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 14 percent in 8 weeks. When they
stopped using it, their LDL returned to previous levels. Benecol can also be
used for cooking.
Gain with grains and beans. Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto
had people add several servings of foods like whole grains, nuts, and beans to
their diets each day. One month later, the test subjects’ LDL (bad) cholesterol
levels were nearly 30 percent lower than when the trial began. In another
study, this one at Tulane University, researchers found that people who ate
four or more servings a week had a 22 percent lower risk of developing heart
disease (and 75 percent fewer camping companions) than less-than-once-aweek
Don’t let your tank hit empty. A study in the British Medical Journal found
that people who eat six or more small meals a day have 5 percent lower cholesterol
levels than those who eat one or two large meals. That’s enough to
shrink your risk of heart disease by 10 to 20 percent.
Refrain from fries. In a study published in the New England Journal
of Medicine, the exercise and nutritional habits of 80,000 women were
recorded for 14 years. The researchers found that the most important
correlate of heart disease was the women’s dietary intake of foods containing
trans fatty acids, mutated forms of fat that lower HDL (good)
ABS DIET HEALTH BULLETIN
WHAT THE HECK IS . . . HIGH CHOLESTEROL?
W H Y T H E A B S D I E T ? A N D W H Y N O W ? 37
and increase LDL (bad) cholesterol. Some of the worst offenders are
Sow your oats. In a University of Connecticut study, men with high cholesterol
who ate oat bran cookies daily for 8 weeks dropped their levels of LDL
cholesterol by more than 20 percent. So eat more oat bran fiber, such as oatmeal
or Cheerios. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports
that two servings of whole-grain cereal (Cheerios count) a day can reduce a
man’s risk of dying of heart disease by nearly 20 percent.
Rise and dine. In a study of 3,900 people, Harvard researchers found that
men who ate breakfast every day were 44 percent less likely to be overweight
and 41 percent less likely to develop insulin resistance, both risk factors for
Fortify with folic acid. A study published in the British Medical Journal found
that people who consume the recommended amount of folic acid each day
have a 16 percent lower risk of heart disease than those whose diets are
lacking in this B vitamin. Good sources of folic acid include asparagus, broccoli,
and fortified cereal.
Order a chef’s salad. Leafy greens and egg yolks are both good sources of
lutein, a phytochemical that carries heart disease–fighting antioxidants to your
cells and tissues.
Be a sponge. Loma Linda University researchers found that drinking five or
more 8-ounce glasses of water a day could help lower your risk of heart disease
by up to 60 percent—exactly the same drop you get from stopping
smoking, lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol numbers, exercising, or losing a
Give yourself bad breath. In addition to lowering cholesterol and helping to
fight off infection, eating garlic may help limit damage to your heart after a
heart attack or heart surgery. Researchers in India found that animals who
were fed garlic regularly had more heart-protecting antioxidants in their blood
than animals that weren’t.
Crank up the chromium. According to new research from Harvard, men with
low levels of chromium in their systems are significantly more likely to develop
heart problems. You need between 200 and 400 micrograms of chromium per
day—more than you’re likely to get from your regular diet. Look for a supplement
labeled chromium picolinate; it’s the most easily absorbed by the body.
Snack on nuts. Harvard researchers found that men who replaced 127 calories
of carbohydrates—that’s about 14 Baked Lay’s potato chips—with 1 ounce
of nuts decreased their risk of heart disease by 30 percent.