By Rick Dina D.C.
The consumption of delicious and healthy fresh fruits and vegetables exerts a major influence in keeping your blood cholesterol levels low. It is well known that higher cholesterol levels are strongly associated with the development of arterial plaque, which leads to life threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as quality of life issues such as impotence, chest pain, and decreased brain function. When we keep our cholesterol levels low, we take a major step in the right direction in avoiding the accumulation of plaque in our arteries. Studies have even shown that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and other whole, natural, unprocessed plant foods and very low in fat; combined with moderate exercise, stress management and group participation can actually reverse the accumulation of arterial plaque in the majority of patients.
Cholesterol has three critical functions in our bodies. It is a necessary component of our cell membranes, and is the precursor to the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Cholesterol is also the main ingredient of bile. When we consume fat from our diets, it needs to be “emulsified,” or broken down into smaller pieces, in order be properly digested. The main “ingredient” in bile is cholesterol. The more fat you consume, the more bile is needed, and therefore the more cholesterol is needed, which our livers manufacture in response to our dietary fat intake. Saturated fat causes greater bile production than unsaturated fat does, and therefore raises our cholesterol level. Saturated fat is found in abundance in foods of animal origin and some tropical oils, such as coconut and palm. Unsaturated fats are found primarily in foods of plant origin. There is another category of fats known as trans fats, found in margarine and processed bakery products, crackers, candy bars, etc. Trans fats act like saturated fats in our bodies, and in some ways are even more detrimental to our health.
Because whole natural plant foods tend to be very low in fat, they do not cause the excess production of cholesterol in response to greater bile production needed to emulsify the fat consumed. In addition, the high fiber content of fruits and vegetables acts to “mop up” the excess cholesterol and eliminate it from the body. In other words, the fiber in fruits and vegetables acts as the built in cleanup system for the relatively small amount of cholesterol produced in response to the low amount of fat in them. It is a great packaged deal! Animal foods, and high fat processed plant foods, on the other hand, cause larger amounts of cholesterol to be produced; yet lack the necessary fiber to bind to the excess. The result is excess cholesterol in our bloodstream, which is a major contributing factor to the clogging of our arteries, leading to the unfortunate and unnecessary disease processes described above that are epidemic to our population.
Scientific literature from all over the world has shown us that populations who consume greater quantities of whole natural plant foods have far lower rates of these complications than populations who consume more high fat processed foods and animal products. In China, for example, the average citizen consumes three times as much fiber as the average American, only 15% of calories from fat as compared to our nearly 40%, and has a likelihood of developing heart disease 17 TIMES LESS than the average American! When Chinese immigrants come to the USA and begin to adopt our rich western diet, they get just as much heart disease as American do.
For more information, or to schedule a nutrition consultation, please call
Dr. Rick Dina, D.C. at www.rawfooddoctors.com/
Health is Your Greatest Wealth!!