Are baked potatoes high in cholesterol?

Potatoes and Cholesterol: What You Need to Know

Most of us know that we should be getting more fiber in our diets, but why is so fiber so important? And what does it have to do with cholesterol?

The American Heart Association reports that eating a diet that’s high in soluble fiber can help reduce your levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In fact, it does a better job of managing your cholesterol levels than diets that are low in trans and saturated fats. These fats are the usual culprits when it comes to cholesterol.

That’s where potatoes come in. Not only are potatoes delicious, nutritious, and versatile, they contain soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. A medium-sized potato with skin contains just under 5 grams of fiber. Most of the fiber is found in the skin.

Studies show that some soluble fibers bind to bile acids. These are compounds that aid in digestion, and they’re made of cholesterol. Binding to the acids helps lower the cholesterol in the body. The body has to use the cholesterol it has to make more bile acids.

Foods that are high in fiber may be helpful for our bodies in other ways, too. They are known to lower blood pressure and inflammation. They can also slow sugar absorption and stabilize blood sugar levels after meals.

What causes high cholesterol?

Cholesterol travels through the blood in packages called lipoproteins. There are two general classes of lipoproteins:

  • low-density lipoproteins, also known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol
  • high-density lipoproteins, also known as HDL or “good” cholesterol

Having healthy levels of both kinds is vital for health.

A healthier potato

If potatoes are so healthy, why is eating french fries or mashed potatoes not so healthy?

Since most of the fiber in a potato is found in the skin, removing the skin removes much of the beneficial fiber. And while the potatoes themselves are heart-healthy, some of the ways we prepare them aren’t. For example, frying potatoes in oil adds fat. Same goes for loading up mashed potatoes with butter, sour cream, and milk. These all add fats to the potatoes, and trans or saturated fats are known to contribute to high cholesterol levels.

That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy potatoes. Bake your potato, and try using a healthier butter alternative or some olive oil on top instead. When you make mashed potatoes, add skim milk and low- or no-fat Greek yogurt to give them a little creaminess. Use spices like oregano, pepper, or garlic for flavor.

The recommended daily fiber intake is:

Age Women Men
50 years and younger 25 g 38 g
Older than 50 years 21 g 30 g

Keeping cholesterol in check

Cholesterol doesn’t just come from food. It also naturally occurs in cells of the human body. It helps us with digestion as well as hormone and vitamin D production.

Having high LDL cholesterol levels can put you more at risk for heart disease. It can contribute to artery blockage, which limits blood flow to and from your heart or brain. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Here’s a look at where your cholesterol numbers should — and shouldn’t — be for optimal health:

  • high cholesterol: 240 mg/dL and higher
  • borderline high: 200–239 mg/dL
  • desirable level: Less than 200 mg/dL

Regular bloodwork can help you keep tabs on your cholesterol levels. Eating well also adds to overall health. Potatoes can play an important role in proper nutrition and health management. So pass the potatoes!

Potatoes are the No. 1 vegetable crop in the United States and the fourth most consumed crop in the world, behind rice, wheat and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Historically, Americans ate most of their potatoes fresh. Since the 1950s, however, processed potatoes — French fries and hash browns, for example — have grown more popular as the technology to freeze the vegetables has improved. According to the USDA, processed potatoes composed 64 percent of total U.S. potato use during the 2000s, compared to 35 percent in the 1960s. Americans, on average, eat 55 lbs. (35 kilograms) of frozen potatoes per year, 42 lbs. (19 kg) of fresh potatoes, 17 lbs. (8 kg) of potato chips and 14 lbs. (6 kg) of dehydrated potato products.

Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food — richly mashed with butter and sour cream or crisply fried in vegetable oil. But when prepared in these ways, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

In fact, a study published in 2017 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate fried potatoes twice a week saw an increased risk of death. The study examined potato intake in 4,400 people between the ages of 45 and 79. By the end of the eight-year study, 236 people had died. Researchers found that those who ate fried potatoes — French fries, hash browns, home fries and more — were more than twice as likely to have died.

The study did not, however, find any correlation between non-fried potato consumption and risk of death. This supports the stance of Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at The University of Texas at Austin: potatoes aren’t necessarily bad for you. When cooked the right way — without heaps of butter, cheese or cream — they can even be good for you.

Potatoes are low in calories — a medium-sized baked potato contains only about 110 calories. They are a good source of vitamins C and B6, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Nutrition facts

Here are the nutrition facts for a potato, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:

Health benefits

Potatoes are stuffed with phytonutrients, which are organic components of plants that are thought to promote health, according to the USDA. Phytonutrients in potatoes include carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid.

The vitamin C in potatoes acts as an antioxidant. These substances may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, according to the National Institutes of Health. They may also help with digestion, heart health, blood pressure and even cancer prevention.

Purple potatoes are especially good sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that six to eight small purple potatoes twice a day helped lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke among people who were overweight and suffering from hypertension. Despite the carbohydrates in purple potatoes, the participants did not gain weight.

Blood pressure

Potatoes may help lower blood pressure for several reasons. Jarzabkowski said that the fiber found in potatoes could help lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol in the blood. “After it binds, we excrete it.”

Potatoes are also a good source of potassium. “All potatoes are potassium rich,” Jarzabkowski said. “They have even more potassium than a banana, and a lot of it is found in the skin.” She noted that the outer potato peel also contains a good deal of fiber. Potassium is a mineral that helps lower blood pressure, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Potassium, too, can help lower blood pressure through its actions as a vasodilator (blood vessel widener). Scientists at the Institute for Food Research have discovered that potatoes contain chemicals called kukoamines, which are associated with lowering blood pressure.

Brain functioning and nervous system health

The B6 vitamins in potatoes are critical to maintaining neurological health. Vitamin B6 helps create useful brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This means that eating potatoes may help with depression, stress and even perhaps attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates may have some advantages, including helping maintain good levels of glucose in the blood, which is necessary to proper brain functioning. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that modest increases in glucose could help enhance learning and memory. Potassium, which encourages the widening of blood vessels, also helps ensure your brain gets enough blood.

Immunity

Vitamin C can help prevent everything from scurvy to the common cold, and potatoes are full of this nutrient, with about 45 percent of the recommended daily intake per medium baked potato, according to the Washington State Potato Commission.

Inflammation

Some people think potatoes and other members of the nightshade family — such as eggplants, tomatoes and peppers — trigger arthritis flares. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support this hypothesis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The organization suggests that people with arthritis try cutting nightshade vegetables from their diets for two weeks to see if symptoms improve.

Some studies suggest these vegetables may actually help reduce arthritis symptoms, the foundation said. For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that potatoes might reduce inflammation.

Digestion

The largest health benefit offered by potatoes is how they can help with digestion due to their high fiber content, Jarzabkowski said. Potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates makes them easy to digest, while their fiber-filled skin can help keep you regular.

Heart health

Potatoes give your heart plenty of reasons to swoon, due to the fiber content. Jarzabkowski said fiber is associated with clearing cholesterol from blood vessels; vitamins C and B6 help reduce free radicals; and carotenoids help maintain proper heart functioning.

Additionally, B6 plays a crucial role in the methylation process, which, among other things, changes the potentially dangerous molecule homocysteine into methionine, a component in new proteins, according to Harvard. Too much homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls, and high levels of it are associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Athletic performance

Jarzabkowski described how potatoes could be a win for athletes. “Potatoes can help restore electrolyte balance,” she said. “Sodium and potassium, which are found in potato peels, are two important electrolytes, and athletes lose them in sweat.” Electrolytes are necessary for optimum body function, and having too few can cause cramps, as many athletes know.

Skin care

According to Organic Facts, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous can all help keep skin as smooth and creamy as, well, mashed potatoes. These nutrients are all present in potatoes.

Cancer risk

A 2017 study published by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that consuming purple potatoes might reduce the risk of colon cancer. Purple potatoes are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce levels of interleukin-6 or IL-6, a protein linked to cancer cell growth within the colon. The study looked at groups of pigs on three different diets, one of which was supplemented with purple potatoes. At the end of the study, pigs that ate purple potatoes had levels of IL-6 six times lower than the other groups. While the study has not yet been replicated on humans, researchers anticipate that the results will transfer because a pig’s digestive system is similar to a human’s.

Health risks

In 2017, an Australian man named Andrew Flinders Taylor appeared in the headlines for having eaten almost nothing but potatoes for a year and losing around 110 lbs., according to Australian Popular Science. This sparked public interest in the potato diet. Dieticians, however, do not recommend such a diet because it is almost impossible to get all 20 essential amino acids and 30 vitamins and minerals from one food. A mix of white and sweet potatoes would, however, get you closer than most foods. Nevertheless, your health would suffer from eating nothing but potatoes, said Jarzabkowski.

Blood sugar

Potatoes are fat free, but they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein. According to Harvard, the carbs in potatoes are the kind that the body digests rapidly and have a high glycemic load (or glycemic index). That is, they cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip. This effect can make people feel hungry again soon after eating, which may lead to overeating. The rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production. Jarzabkowski said, “The last thing I’d recommend to a diabetic is a potato.”

On the other hand, potatoes are also a great source of fiber, Jarzabkowski said, and the fiber content helps you feel fuller longer.

Furthermore, a 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that different individuals respond to a food’s glycemic index value in substantially different ways. Therefore, suggested the study, the glycemic index is limited in its usefulness in terms of recommending food choices.

Carbs

Jarzabkowski recommended that when planning meals, people should remember potatoes’ carb content. “Potatoes should take the place of a grain on the plate. Use it as a carb rather than as your only vegetable,” she said.

Even when prepared in a healthy way, potatoes can present health problems to individuals with obesity or diabetes. They are high in simple carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. Jarzabkowski likened the vegetables in this way to white bread.

The Harvard School of Public Health tracked the diet and lifestyle of 120,000 men and women for about 20 years and found that people who increased their consumption of French fries and baked or mashed potatoes gained more weight over time — as much as 3.4 lbs. every four years.

A 2016 study published in The BMJ looked at a large cohort of women and found that those who ate four or more servings of potatoes a week had a higher risk of blood pressure compared to women who ate potatoes less than once a month. The risk held for women who ate baked, boiled, mashed or fried potatoes and for men who ate fried potatoes. Men who ate the equivalent amount of potato chips, however, did not see their risk for higher blood pressure increase. This study further indicates that potatoes may contribute to different health outcomes in different people, perhaps depending on their unique glycemic index reactions. It also emphasizes the importance of potato preparation.

Healthiest ways to cook potatoes

You can probably guess that smothering your potato in sour cream and bacon isn’t the healthiest way to enjoy it, but what is? Which is more nutritious — baked, boiled or steamed potatoes?

Jarzabkowski emphasized the importance of preparation in potato consumption. “The best way to eat a potato is in its whole, unprocessed form,” she said. Baking a potato is the best way to prepare it, as baking, or microwaving, a potato causes the lowest amount of nutrients to be lost, she said.

The next-healthiest way to cook a potato is through steaming, which causes less nutrient loss than boiling. Cooking a peeled potato in this way results in significant nutrient loss, as the water-soluble nutrients leach out into the water.

In a potato, those water-soluble nutrients include B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and calcium. As much as 80 percent of a potato’s vitamin C may go down the drain if you boil the vegetable. The same thing can happen with peeled potatoes that are left to soak, a method used to stop darkening. If you use the water from the potato boil as stock, however, you’ll still get some of the nutrients.

However you cook a potato, try to eat the skin. Ounce for ounce, the skin contains more nutrients — including the majority of the vegetable’s fiber — than the rest of the potato, Jarzabkowski said.

Are potato eyes poisonous?

If the eyes of a potato are not sprouting, they can be eaten. If they are sprouting, the National Institutes of Health recommends cutting off the eyes and their sprouts before eating the potato.

Potato stems, branches, leaves and fruits are toxic, containing alkaloids such as arsenic, chaconine and solanine. Solanine is “very toxic even in small amounts,” according to the NIH.

Poison is also found in green potatoes. The vegetables turn green if they have had too much exposure to light. According to the NIH, you should “never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin.”

Other spud facts

Here are some potato facts, from the U.S. Potato Board and the Idaho Potato Museum:

The word “potato” comes from the Spanish “patata.” The nickname “spud” comes from the digging tool used in planting potatoes: “espada” in Spanish, “spyd” in Dutch and “spade” in English. The word eventually became associated with the potato itself.

It is a myth that the word “spud” is an acronym for the Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet, a supposed activist group that wanted to keep the potato out of Britain in the 19th century.

Potatoes are members of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

They are not root vegetables; potatoes are actually the swollen part of the stem of the perennial Solanum tuberosum. This part of the plant is called a tuber, which functions to provide food to the leafy part of the plant.

The “eyes” of potatoes are buds, which will sprout into branches if left alone.

There are thousands of potato varieties, but not all are commercially available. Popular varieties include Russet, red, white, yellow, purple/blue, fingerling and petite.

Idaho, whose license plates bear the slogan “Famous Potatoes,” is the top potato-producing state, but spuds are grown in all 50 U.S. states. Following Idaho are Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine and California.

In 2013, there were more than 1 million acres of potatoes planted and harvested, which produced 43.7 billion lbs. (20 billion kg) of the vegetable.

The average American eats about 124 lbs. (56 kg) of potatoes per year; Germans eat about twice as much.

Potatoes were traditionally used to make vodka, although today most vodka is produced using fermented grains such as corn, wheat or rye.

According to Guinness World Records, the largest potato grown was 7 lbs., 1 ounce (3.2 kg).

The Inca in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes, growing the vegetables around 8000 B.C. to 5000 B.C.

In 1536, Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, and carried potatoes back to Europe.

Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe. Because potatoes were not mentioned in the Bible, many people looked at them with suspicion. For many years, people thought that eating potatoes would cause leprosy.

Potatoes arrived in the British colonies in 1621 when the governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Gov. Francis Wyatt at Jamestown.

Scotch-Irish immigrants planted the first permanent potato patches in North America in 1719, near Londonderry, New Hampshire.

A royal chef named A. Parmentier helped King Louis XIV popularize the potato in France in the 18th century. He created a feast with only potato dishes, which he realized was possible when he was fed only potatoes while imprisoned in Germany. Benjamin Franklin, ambassador to France, was in attendance at Parmentier’s feast in 1767.

Marie Antoinette turned potatoes into a fashion statement when she paraded through the French countryside wearing potato blossoms in her hair.

French fries were introduced to the United States by Thomas Jefferson, who served them in the White House during his presidency (1801-1809).

Another royal chef, Collinet, chef for French King Louis Phillippe, unintentionally created soufflés, or puffed potatoes, one night in the mid-1800s. When the king arrived late for dinner, Collinet plunged already-fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them. To the chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons.

The Irish Potato Famine: In the 1840s, an outbreak of potato blight swept through Europe and wiped out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, and when the blight reached Ireland, the residents’ main staple food disappeared. Many poverty-stricken families struggled to survive. Over the course of the famine, almost 1 million people died from starvation or disease. Another million left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.

In 1853, railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. To spite him, the chef, George Crum, sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and the potato chip was born.

The potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space. In October 1995, NASA and the University of Wisconsin created the technology to do so with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages.

Additional resources

  • Smithsonian magazine: How the Potato Changed the World
  • The World’s Healthiest Foods: Potatoes
  • Cleveland Clinic: White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier?

If you read this article, you should be able to score well on our quiz.

Quiz: Tater Test

You might be wondering “what are triglycerides and how do I know if mine are too high?”
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood that our bodies use for energy. Having a healthy number of triglycerides can be very beneficial in maintaining good health; however, when your triglyceride levels get too high, your health may be at risk.

“What kind of risk are we talking about?”
Your triglycerides are measured through simple blood testing…. A count of 150 and lower has been commonly referred to as a “normal” level amount. If you fall in between 200 and 500, your levels are commonly referred to as “high or very high”. It’s at this level that your body becomes more vulnerable to increased risk of metabolic syndrome (combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, and high triglycerides) and heart disease. Regularly consuming more calories than you burn, consuming a lot of alcohol, and poorly-managed diabetes are a few of the causes of high triglyceride levels.

“How can I lower my levels and reduce my risk of heart disease?”
Here are a few ways that may QUICKLY lower your triglyceride levels:
1. Cut sweets from your diet – sugars are typically unneeded calories that are converted into triglycerides for storage in the body. Cutting down on sugars will have a direct effect on the number of triglycerides you consume daily.
2. Reduce your refined carbohydrates – simply eating whole grain carbs over white flour products could be very beneficial. Consuming less carbs while increasing the amount of protein you eat could help lower your blood sugar levels as proteins absorb into the bloodstream much slower than carbs do.
3. Consume plant-based foods – if you select the protein in your diet from plant-based sources (rather than red meat) you may find your cholesterol and triglyceride levels quickly decreasing.

If you are over the age of 18, have high triglyceride levels and feel like you’re out of options, a new 12-week research study at FMC Science may be an option for you. If you qualify for this study, all participants will be seen by a board certified physician; get paid for time & travel; all study medication, exams & tests will be paid at no cost to you-NO OUT OF POCKET COSTS! No insurance is required to participate! To learn more call FMC Science at 512-556-4130 or click below.

20+ Low-Cholesterol Snacks For A Heart Healthy Diet

Low-cholesterol snacks make up part of any healthy diet—whether you want to lower your levels or maintain healthy balance. Even if you honestly have no idea what cholesterol really is, you can still benefit from changing up your snacking game to include more low-cholesterol snacks.

Keep reading to learn more about cholesterol and to discover some low-cholesterol snacks that have so much flavor, they don’t taste “low” on anything.

Cholesterol and Good Health: A Brief Explainer

In general, biological terms, cholesterol is a waxy compound found in animal (including human) blood.

In dietary terms, cholesterol is the amount of this waxy compound we get from eating animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy.

In health-screening terms, cholesterol is the amount of this waxy compound in our systems.

Now consider cholesterol’s role as a “waxy compound” to understand what it may do to human health. Waxy buildup in ears can interfere with hearing, waxy buildup in pipes can interfere with water flow, and waxy cholesterol buildup in the arteries can interfere with blood flow to the heart, and in some cases, this can lead to total blockages and heart attacks.

All this information makes little difference if you don’t know how to understand and improve your own cholesterol numbers. So let’s get to it!

Your Practical Cholesterol Guide

The Cleveland Clinic has a wonderful explainer on cholesterol numbers. Here are some quick takeaways to guide you on your mission to achieve or maintain healthy cholesterol levels:

  • Your cholesterol includes 3 cholesterol subtypes: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
  • LDL cholesterol buildup can increase your risk of heart disease. (It’s often nicknamed “bad cholesterol.”)
  • HDL cholesterol helps fight LDL cholesterol buildup. (It’s often nicknamed “good cholesterol.”)
  • VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol carries triglycerides, the “chemically correct” label for fat in your body.

Cholesterol by the numbers

A cholesterol screening will likely return levels for the “cholesterols” above. But how do you interpret those levels? Well, your doctor will definitely help, but the list of favorable levels below will empower you to take an active interest in your reading.

The Cleveland Clinic lists these target levels:

LDL Cholesterol:

  • Favorable: 100 or less
  • Unfavorable: 160-189

HDL Cholesterol:

  • Favorable: 60 or more
  • Unfavorable: 40 or less

Triglycerides:

  • Favorable: 150 or less
  • Unfavorable: 200-499

When to check your cholesterol levels

Cleveland Clinic says “everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years.” According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, high blood cholesterol does not often cause specific symptoms; therefore, regular screenings are critical to healthy cholesterol.

Low-Cholesterol Snacking Tips

A Harvard Heart Letter says you may be able to lower your bad cholesterol levels with these foods:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable oil
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Soy
  • Fatty fish

Consider working these foods into your diet while avoiding as many high-cholesterol foods as you can.

Grab and Go Low-Cholesterol Snacks

Pick up a low-cholesterol snack online or at a grocery store to make your healthy lifestyle work even if you have no free time for meal prep on your hands.

1. Popcorners Kettle Corn Popped Corn Snack

Sweet cane sugar and savory sea salt meet in the “chipified” version of your favorite fairground snack. These light and airy crisps pack up well and won’t make a mess in the car, on a walk, in the office, or anywhere else you might want to take them.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet-and-salty
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Yellow corn and sunflower oil

2. Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Popcorn

Himalayan pink sea salt and plant-based coconut oil make a flavorful popcorn with 0 mg of cholesterol. You’ll wonder why so many people insist on covering their popcorn in butter or synthetic buttery substances.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Non-GMO popcorn and organic coconut oil

3. Simply 7 Sea Salt Quinoa Chips

Fluffy quinoa makes a light and airy chip that hits the spot when you need something salty. Dip the chips in fresh salsa to add lots of flavor without adding extra cholesterol.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Quinoa flour

4. Peeled Snacks Sea Salt Peas Please

This pea-based snack includes protein, veggies, and a crunch that delivers major low-cholesterol satisfaction in every bite. Try not to be too sad if they didn’t make snackable peas when you were a kid. You can make up for lost time now!

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Organic whole green pea flour and organic brown rice flour

5. Bunches of Crunches Coconut Cacao Grainola

Hearty amaranth and millet make a pleasant contrast to deep, flavorful cacao and creamy coconut. You won’t want to stop eating, and you won’t have to since this grainola comes packed with goodness.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Amaranth, millet, and cacao nibs

6. Lundberg Organic Sesame Tamari Rice Cake

The umami flavors of sesame and tamari make an unforgettable rice cake that will satisfy your cravings for flavors you can usually find only at your local sushi house.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Umami
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Organic whole grain brown rice and organic sesame seeds

7. Pirate’s Booty Wild Tings™ Lotso Nacho Crunchy Corn Sticks

You don’t need to understand what wild “tings” are to know they’re absolutely delicious. These baked corn snacks come smothered with big nacho flavor.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Cornmeal and nonfat dried milk

8. Newman’s Own Organic Spelt Pretzel Twists

Are you ready for a healthy snacking plot twist? These pretzels may look perfectly normal, but they’re made with organic spelt flour.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Organic spelt flour and organic sunflower oil

9. New York Flatbreads Everything

Everything you love about everything bagels found its way onto a light flatbread that doesn’t need any cream cheese to be absolutely delicious.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Whole wheat flour and distilled vinegar

10. Bobo’s Coconut Oat Bites

Flakes of oat and coconut make a bite that’s full of feel-good vibes and plenty of love. These little morsels will fill you up―and not with cholesterol!

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Organic rolled oats

11. The Good Bean Balsamic Herb Favas + Peas

Add a hint of sophisticated Mediterranean flare to your low-cholesterol snacking repertoire with this mix of crispy peas and favas bursting with balsamic flavor.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Fava beans and green split peas

Homemade Low-Cholesterol Snacks

These delicious make-at-home treats take low-cholesterol snacks to new culinary heights. Empower your healthy eating habits with home-made treats packed with love and care.

13. Wishes and Dishes Strawberry Steel Cut Oat Breakfast Bars

Sweet strawberries and wholesome oats make a powerfully comforting combination that also happens to be low in cholesterol.

  • Cholesterol content: 30 grams
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Steel cut oatmeal and strawberries

13. Moon and Spoon and Yum Steel Cut Oats + Quinoa Granola Bars

Get a double dose of whole grains with bars that include steel cut oats and quinoa. One batch goes a long way!

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Quinoa and sunflower seeds

14. Holly Grainger Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Barley

We love trying new things, and we certainly count breakfast barley as “new.” Loaded with sweet apples and spicy cinnamon, this barley will fill you up and give you plenty of energy.

  • Cholesterol content: 4 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Barley and cinnamon

15. The Curious Chickpea Creamy Vegan Barley Risotto Stuffed Zucchini

Creamy vegan barley filling makes a robust stuffing for crisp, fresh zucchini. Serve this dish as a fancy appetizer or even as an impressive main course for vegan friends.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Barley and zucchini

16. Cookie + Kate Love Real Food Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad

You can never have too many bean salads up your sleeve. They’re light, filling, easy to make, and packed full of nutrients. This Lebanese version incorporates lemon juice, garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Red kidney beans and lemon juice

17. Vegan in the Freezer Fully Loaded Black Bean Salad

Here’s another bean salad, because, as we said in #15, you can never have too many bean salads. This version features black beans, tomatoes, peppers, and corn.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Black beans and bell peppers

18. The Couple’s Kitchen Spicy Okra Chips with Mexican Seasoned Salt

People often overlook okra when it comes to healthy snacking, but okra happens to be a nutrient powerhouse! Made into chips, okra becomes a delightful and snackable treat.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Spicy
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Okra and olive oil

19. Chelsey Amer Nutrition 4-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Balls

Eggplant does far more than bask in Parmesan cheese. These vegan eggplant balls prove the versatility of this healthy vegetable.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Eggplant and whole wheat breadcrumbs

20. The Rawtarian Marinaded Raw Eggplant (melanzane Crude Marinate)

Cholesterol-lowering eggplant features in a flavorful raw salad with basil, olive oil, and red chili flakes. Eat it on whole-wheat toast or just with a spoon!

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Savory
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Japanese eggplant and apple cider vinegar

21. Ordinary Vegan Orange Rice Pudding with Shaved Dark Chocolate

This treat tastes as good as any decadent dessert, but it has plenty of nutrients from good-for-you ingredients.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Cinnamon and pure maple syrup

22. Apples-and-Beans Date & Pistachio Chocolate Bites

Dates, pistachios, and 70% cacao dark chocolate should be enough to make you drool. Add oat cakes, chia seeds, maple syrup, and sea salt to the mix, and you’ve got a cravable go-to treat that won’t wreck your low-cholesterol intentions.

  • Cholesterol content: 0 mg
  • Flavor profile: Sweet
  • Good-for-you ingredients: Chia seeds and pistachios

What are your favorite low-cholesterol snacks? Let us know in the comments below!

Snacking

Most people snack between meals, and it’s often tempting to reach for something delicious but unhealthy. But you don’t have to avoid snacking if you’re worried about cholesterol. Snacking can be a healthy habit, giving you energy, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals, while keeping you going throughout the day.

Quick snacks

  • A large square of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and a handful of dried fruit and nuts.
  • Chopped strawberries mixed with low fat yogurt and frozen in ice cube trays.
  • Juicy peach slices with a teaspoon of honey and sunflower seeds.
  • Pineapple rings served with pineapple juice and desiccated coconut.
  • A bowl of porridge made with instant oats.
  • Fruit smoothie – just blend your favourite fruits together and perhaps a soya yogurt.

Vegetable snacks

  • Vegetable sticks with dips, such as low fat hummus, tomato salsa or yogurt and mint.
  • A cup of vegetable soup.
  • Half an avocado with a tablespoon of tomato salsa.

Yoghurt and dairy

  • Low fat yogurt or fromage frais.
  • A glass of skimmed or semi skimmed milk.
  • A low-fat yogurt with a little granola or muesli. Add in some berries or banana. Go for a soya yoghurt or one fortified with sterols and stanols.

Morning or afternoon tea

  • Fruit scone, hot cross bun or current teacake.
  • Toasted English muffin – go for a wholemeal option.
  • Cereal and breakfast bars.

Savoury snacks

  • Toast with peanut butter or mashed banana.

  • Low fat hummus and pitta bread fingers.

  • Beans on toast.

  • Unsalted popcorn – make it yourself at home and try adding a spicy seasoning or a low-calorie powdered sweetener.

  • Oatcakes or rice cakes topped with a chopped hard-boiled egg and black pepper, or low fat hummus and cucumber slices.

  • Rye crackers, with a topping such as cottage cheese and chives.

Tips for healthy snacking

What you snack on can become a habit. Use these ideas to help you form healthy new habits.

  • Plan your snacks. Plan what to eat and have snacks at regular times – rather than snacking at any time of day and reaching for what’s convenient.
  • Keep a stock of healthy snacks on hand. You’re less likely to be tempted by vending machines or convenience shops which tend to stock unhealthy snacks.
  • Try not to snack in the hour before a mealtime.
  • Go for a variety of different snacks. You’ll get a range of nutrients and you’re less likely to get bored. Be adventurous and try something new.

  • Choose snacks which fill you up. Such as cereal bars, fruit and nuts, and low fat yogurt.

  • Keep your snacks to 400 calories a day or less. For example, with two 200kcal snacks. The rest of your calories can come from meals. Most women need no more than 2,000 and men no more than 2,500 calories per day.

Can’t do without chocolate, sweets and salty snacks?

  • Go for smaller portions. If you can’t resist some chocolate or crisps, buy smaller portions so you’re not tempted to eat too much. Just buy one individual portion at a time if that works for you.
  • Check the labels. Compare products and look for lower salt and fat options.
  • Go for dark chocolate. If you eat chocolate, go for dark chocolate that’s high in cocoa solids. The fat in cocoa solids doesn’t have much effect on your blood cholesterol. Dark chocolate also contains plant chemicals which could be good for your health.
  • Choose sweets which are low in fat. If you have a sweet tooth, sweets such as boiled sweets, fruit gums, jellies and dolly mixtures contain little or no fat – so they’re better for you than cakes or crisps. They are high in sugar so don’t eat many if you have raised triglycerides or you’re trying to lose weight. It’s best to avoid sugary sweets if you are diabetic.

Julie Daniluk

Quinoa is quickly becoming the nutritional superstar of the decade. Quinoa is not actually a grain — it’s a seed, which means it’s high in protein and fibre and provides balanced energy and satiety. One cup of quinoa has about as much protein as two deli slices of chicken breast, or about 15 percent protein by weight.

One big reason why quinoa has come into fashion is it’s easy to prepare. In the old days of health food stores, quinoa was sold in bulk and it had to be rinsed many times to remove the bitter saponins. Now quinoa is sold pre-rinsed, and with a 15-minute cooking time. I think it’s a wonderful replacement for refined rice. And although people love brown rice, a common complaint is the 45 minutes it takes when you get home to cook it. If you want an instant way to enjoy quinoa in the morning, try it rolled. Just like rolled oats, rolled quinoa cooks in just a few minutes.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that enjoying “three or more servings of whole grain foods everyday could reduce the chances of developing metabolic syndrome — a condition marked by a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and high blood fats.” Quinoa’s a great choice for one of those servings because its high fibre helps regulate blood sugar by slowing down the conversion of complex carbohydrates into sugar. It helps you feel full and reduces cravings, making it a perfect weight loss tool.

Five more reasons to try quinoa
1. Quinoa promotes healthy bone growth: Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids used by the body as building blocks for the development of muscle tissue and necessary metabolic enzymes. Protein is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into the bones and the development of collagen, as well as for the growth factors involved in healthy growth of the bone matrix.

2. Quinoa can help reduce cholesterol: In a 2010 study conducted in the Netherlands, rats bred to have high cholesterol were fed quinoa. These rats were also fed a high fructose diet that should further increase their harmful cholesterol (LDL) levels. After quinoa was introduced to the diet, the detrimental effects of the cholesterol and fructose began to reverse and cholesterol levels were returning to normal.

3. Quinoa is high in riboflavin: Riboflavin is a member of the B-vitamin family, which has been shown in recent studies to aid in the elimination and prevention of migraine headaches by improving the transport of oxygen into the cell. This prevents migraines from occurring and aids in their relief.

4. Quinoa’s high magnesium content promotes cardiovascular health: Magnesium has been the subject of many studies for its role in preventing hypertension through its ability to relax the small muscles that clamp down on our blood vessels. Recent research has also shown that a deficiency in magnesium actually increases the hormone (angiotensin II) that is responsible for increasing blood pressure, so magnesium has a two-fold effect on our heart health.

5. Quinoa can help prevent gallstones: Quinoa is high in insoluble dietary fibre, which has been shown to lessen the occurrence of gallstones by reducing the stagnation of bile and lowering the total blood triglycerides, which are two of the major components to gall stone formation. Quinoa is a great way to get fibre from a gluten-free source.

Goji quinoa granola recipe

I created this recipe so everyone can enjoy the goodness of quinoa, even when they’re crazy busy in the morning. This is smash hit around my house. The only trouble is making enough of it, as it has become a favourite treat! Instead of the overly sweet commercial granola that is full of fat and sugar, I let the dried fruit be the main event. It tastes great on top of stewed apples or yogurt.

Ingredients:
1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame butter — substitute another nut butter if unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 cups rolled quinoa
3/4 cup sliced hazelnuts
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup goji berries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275 F.

2. Mash the banana in a large bowl with a fork. Add the rest of the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.

3. Add all the dry ingredients, except for the flax seeds, cranberries and goji berries, into the wet mixture. Stir it all together and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Break up large clumps to ensure even cooking.

5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or longer if you have a cool oven. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, until the granola is starting to crisp up and the nuts are getting toasty.

6. Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the flax seeds and dried berries. Allow granola to cool completely on the pan before transferring to an airtight container. It will get crunchy as it cools.

Makes 4 cups (Consider doubling or tripling this recipe!)

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

For more amazing recipes visit Chatelaine.com’s recipe section.

Cholesterol is a lipid molecule found in all cells of the body.

Cholesterol is essential for the body as it aids in the production of Vitamin D, hormones and substances that help in digestion of food.

Cholesterol molecules are composed of lipids on the inside and surrounded by a covering of proteins.

Two lipoproteins carry cholesterol molecules throughout the body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) as bad cholesterol as it carries cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) also known as good cholesterol as it carries cholesterol molecules from all cells of the party to the liver for removal.

High cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

When levels of bad cholesterol are higher than good cholesterol levels, it increases the risk of developing heart diseases.

Accumulation of cholesterol in the form of plaque in the arteries may also occur resulting in Atherosclerosis and other heart problems.

It is thus very important to regulate cholesterol levels in the body to prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

What is Quinoa and What are its Benefits?

Quinoa is a flowering plant known for its rich nutritive value. Its demand has incredibly increased over the past few years.

It is popularly used as an alternative to grains containing starch.

Quinoa is rich in nutrients like proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It is an excellent source of energy for those allergic to gluten.

6 Ways Quinoa Benefits in High Cholesterol

Quinoa also has various beneficial properties that can be used for preventing various disease caused as a result of poor diet.

1. It lowers Cholesterol Levels

A study published in Food Chemistry in 2014 reported that quinoa seeds are rich in saponins that play a significant effect in lowering cholesterol levels when ingested orally.

According to another study, the intake of whole grain foods causes a 5% reduction in bad cholesterol levels.

An experimental study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, quinoa seeds administered to animal models significantly reduced total cholesterol levels by 26% and levels of triglycerides by 11% as compared to those present in the control group.

Quinoa seeds also increased good cholesterol levels that are reduced due to high glucose levels, especially in diabetic individuals.

Quinoa seeds inhibited the reduction of good cholesterol caused by high fructose-induced diets.

What does this Mean? Quinoa seeds have a cholesterol-lowering effect and are considered safe for consumption. They may eliminate and replace cholesterol-lowering medications due to their side effects.

2. It Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases

High cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease and hence it is very important to keep a check on your cholesterol levels.

A study reported that quinoa seeds used in nutrition bars have the ability to prevent risks associated with cardiovascular diseases.

The study evaluated its effects on blood pressure of patients belonging to the age group 18-45 years for 30 days.

The study showed that consumption of quinoa seeds significantly reduced cholesterol levels.

Since high cholesterol levels have been linked to heart diseases consumption of quinoa seeds on a regular basis could prevent the risk of heart diseases.

A study published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports in 2004 evaluated the protective effects of whole grains including quinoa seeds on the heart.

The study reviewed various articles conducted on determining the efficiency of whole grains in preventing heart diseases and mentioned that whole grain food rich in fibers have an important role to play in the protection of the heart.

What does this Mean? Quinoa seeds are rich in fibers and may prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing high cholesterol levels in the body.

3. It has Gastroprotective Activity

Those suffering from cholesterol related problems are prescribed with cholesterol-lowering medications that often present a variety of side effects commonly irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.

A study carried out by Cordeiro et al. in 2012 demonstrated gastroprotective activity of quinoa seeds on an animal model of gastric.

Results showed that the gastroprotective effect of quinoa seeds was exhibited by the presence of polysaccharides like arabinan and arabinan rich pectic polysaccharides in it.

What does this Mean? Quinoa seeds may have a protective effect on the stomach preventing it from lesions and irritations caused by cholesterol-lowering medications.

4. It has Antioxidant Defenses

Imbalance of reactive oxygen species in the body leads to oxidative stress which is the cause of many medical complications like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, heart diseases, and many others.

Quinoa seeds have found to be effective in reducing oxidative stress caused by high fructose diets.

In a study conducted by Pasko et al. in 2010, quinoa seeds were found to reduce levels of enzymes that cause oxidative stress induced by high levels of fructose in the diet.

Quinoa reduced peroxidation of lipids by increasing the anti-oxidative potential of liver, heart, kidney, testis, lungs, and pancreas exerting a protective effect on all organs susceptible to oxidative stress.

According to a study published in the Journal of food science in 2012 reported that quinoa seeds are rich anti-oxidants that improve the nutritive value when added to food products.

What does this Mean? Quinoa seeds have the ability to prevent oxidative stress. They prevent peroxidation of lipids in various organs of the body, and their anti-oxidative effect has a positive effect on organs subject to oxidative stress in the presence of high cholesterol levels.

5. It Prevents Inflammation

Inflammation of sensitive plasma proteins increases levels of cholesterol that in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

A study published in the Journal of food science in 2014 evaluated benefits of quinoa seeds in regulating inflammation due to the presence of saponins in it.

Different fractions of saponins extracted from quinoa seeds were tested for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Results showed that these fractions reduced the production of inflammatory mediators like nitric oxides and inhibited the release of other inflammatory molecules like cytokines, tumor necrosis factor and interleukins on cells subjected to inflammation.

Researchers found that quinoa seeds are whole grain foods that contain phytonutrients and polyphenolics capable of exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties.

What does this Mean? Inflammation associated with Hypercholesterolemia can be prevented by consuming quinoa seeds and thereby preventing the risk of heart diseases.

6. It Regulates Glucose Levels

It has been found that diabetes lowers levels of good cholesterol and increases triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels in the blood.

According to a study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in 2010 quinoa seeds reduce glucose levels.

It also protects the body from adverse effects exerted by high levels of fructose and maintains the lipid and glucose levels.

Another study evaluating antioxidant properties of quinoa seeds mentioned the benefits of quinoa seeds in preventing oxidative stress thereby reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes.

What does this Mean? Quinoa seeds are rich in antioxidants that can prevent oxidative stress and diseases like diabetes associated with it. It is also an essential for maintaining high blood glucose levels that are a major cause of diabetes.

Dosage

There is no specific dosage for the consumption of quinoa seeds for cholesterol. The seeds can be included in the diet initially in small amounts, and the dose can be increased gradually.

Quinoa seeds can be added to salads, beverages, smoothies, breakfast cereal, soup, snacks or other savory dishes.

Baked foods like cookies and biscuits are made from flour prepared from quinoa seeds.

One can consult a health practitioner before including it in the diet.

Precautions

Quinoa seeds are whole grains that are high in nutritional value and therefore do not present any adverse side effects however some general precautions should be considered.

It is important to cook quinoa seeds properly as uncooked grains may cause digestive problems.

Make sure you wash the seeds thoroughly before incorporating it into your food as these seeds are coated with saponins that are bitter compounds produced by the seeds as a defense barrier against pests and may even present toxic effects.

Quinoa seeds may include side effects in case of celiac disease and those who are allergic to gluten. Other side effects include nausea or pain.

It may not help in patients with high triglyceride levels.

Those consuming medications must maintain a gap between the intake of medication and foods that contain quinoa supplements as quinoa may interact with them and reduce their efficacy or inhibit their effectiveness.

Conclusion

Quinoa seeds are whole grains rich in nutrients. They add immense medicinal and nutritive value to food products enhancing their quality.

They are safe as well as effective for consumption and can be consumed to improve cholesterol levels in the body.

Since an imbalance of cholesterol levels are associated with a variety of medical complications including quinoa seeds in the diet will not only improve cholesterol in the body but also help in preventing the associated diseases.

Our articles are written by writers with a deep domain understanding of the topic and usually hold Bachelors / Masters degrees. The articles are peer-reviewed before being uploaded on the website. Our writers spend 10s of hours researching and writing articles which are factual and comprehensive. Check out about our team in About Us section.

10 Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

Take these diet and exercise tips to heart to watch your cholesterol levels drop.

Has your doctor mentioned lowering your cholesterol? Whether it’s something you’ve been struggling with for a while or if you’ve been recently diagnosed with high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), this quick list can help you lower your levels through diet and exercise. Cholesterol can be a huge problem, especially if you have a family history or are prone to heart disease, clotting or a number of other conditions. Lowering your cholesterol can leave you happier and most of all, healthier.

  1. There are two kinds of cholesterol, LDL (bad) and HDL (good). Eating more good cholesterol than bad is a good way to start. Diet is half the battle, so why not start out with the right foot? Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, plant oils and soluble fibers are great sources of good cholesterol.
  2. Do you like seafood? Even if you don’t, you may want to develop a taste for it, as it’s both heart-healthy and a great source of good cholesterol.
  3. Balance what you eat. American portion sizes are massive compared to the rest of the world. It may be difficult at first, but your body with eventually adjust to smaller portions and will thank you for it. You may even lose a little weight in the process!
  4. Are you a snack-a-holic? Nuts are a great source of monosaturated fat which fights bad cholesterol. So a salty, nutty treat may indeed be just what the doctor ordered. Other sources of monosaturated fats are also recommended for both a healthy diet and lowering your LDL levels.
  5. Stick to unsaturated fats as well. They help lower bad cholesterol and may even raise your good cholesterol level. Saturated fats such as those in butter and palm oil, for example, are best used in moderation.
  6. Whole grain cereals, bread and granola are great ways to help with your cholesterol levels. White bread, for example, boosts your blood sugar levels and makes you feel hungrier sooner. Wheat bread doesn’t raise your blood sugar as quickly, leading to a feeling of fullness that lasts longer.
  7. You knew it was coming – exercise! Even just 30 minutes a day of physical activity such as walking or swimming can drastically improve your situation, as it helps clear your arteries that may become clogged by cholesterol.
  8. Break it up. You don’t even have to walk, jog, whatever your preference, for 30 minutes straight. Do it ten minutes at a time, for instance.
  9. Even physical activities such as gardening or dancing can help. If you don’t like the gym or find walks too boring, get out there and do something fun!

10. Don’t worry, be happy! Stress can increase the amount of cholesterol your body retains, so take a breather every once in a while.

The effect of whole grain wheat sourdough bread consumption on serum lipids in healthy normoglycemic/normoinsulinemic and hyperglycemic/hyperinsulinemic adults depends on presence of the APOE E3/E3 genotype: a randomized controlled trial

Participants

Men and postmenopausal women (defined as absence of menstruation ≥ 1 y) aged 43-70 y, were recruited using posters and newspaper advertisements. Participants were initially screened using an eligibility questionnaire and excluded if they reported the presence of any serious medical condition (i.e. CVD, diabetes, cancer, hepatic disease, renal disease), frequent alcohol consumption (≥ 2 drinks.d-1), use of lipid-lowering medication, use of hormone replacement therapy, use of daily aspirin, major body weight changes (> 5% of usual body weight within the last 6 months), current or planned attempts at trying to lose or gain weight, plans to alter their habitual lifestyle, elite athletic training or an allergy to gluten. Potential participants meeting these criteria then underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) of 75 g dextrose (Trutol 75, NERL Diagnostics, RI, USA) to rule out diabetes (based on fasted and 2-h glucose) and to determine fasted and 2-h whole blood glucose and serum insulin. Potential participants were then considered eligible if they met the inclusion criteria of 1 of 2 groups representing different levels of CVD risk. Inclusion criteria for the normoglycemic/normoinsulinemic (NGI) group were: BMI 19-25 kg·m-2 and/or waist circumference < 102 cm for men and < 88 cm for women, and all of the following: normal fasted glucose (plasma glucose < 6.1 mmol·L-1), normal glucose tolerance (2-h post-OGTT plasma glucose < 7.8 mmol·L-1), and normal fasted insulin (serum insulin < 90 pmol·L-1). Inclusion criteria for the hyperglycemic/hyperinsulinemic (HGI) group were: BMI > 29.9 kg·m-2 and/or waist circumference ≥ 102 cm for men and ≥ 88 cm for women, and one of the following: fasted hyperglycemia (plasma glucose 6.1-6.9 mmol·L-1), impaired glucose tolerance (2-h post-OGTT plasma glucose 7.8-11.0 mmol·L-1), and/or fasted hyperinsulinemia (serum insulin > 90 pmol·L-1). A total of 28 men and postmenopausal women were included in the study (n = 14 NGI; 10 male, 4 female and n = 14 HGI; 10 male, 4 female). A sample size of 28 participants was estimated to be adequate for detection of a 10% change in fasting total-cholesterol using variation in accordance with the literature , an alpha of 0.05, a power of 0.80 and 2-sided testing. The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Board of the University of Guelph and all participants provided written consent.

Study design and treatment breads

The study utilized a randomized crossover design in which participants added 2 commercially available breads (whole grain wheat sourdough and white) to their habitual diets for 6 weeks each, separated by 4-5 week washout period. The whole grain wheat sourdough bread consisted predominantly of whole grain wheat flour (37% dry weight) and also contained other ingredients including non-wheat grains (18% dry weight: whole grain spelt and rye flours, brown flax seeds, rolled oats, cracked soy, yellow flax seeds, millet seeds, malted barley flour, brown rice flour, millet flour, durum semolina and organic sourdough made from natural bacterial culture, whole grain spelt and rye flours).

The quantity of treatment breads provided was determined to correspond with 65% of the daily grain serving recommendation of Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) , which, based on a bread slice of 35 g, equated to 136.5-163.8 g bread·d-1 (6-7 grain servings·d-1) for women and 159.3-182.0 g bread·d-1 (7-8 grain servings/d) for men. The daily number of slices of treatment bread provided was then calculated using the average grain serving CFG recommendation based on bread weight divided by the weight of the treatment bread slices (25 g/slice for whole grain wheat sourdough bread and 37.5 g/slice for white bread). Therefore, the number of slices provided to women and men, respectively, was 6 and 7 for whole grain wheat sourdough bread and 4 and 5 for white bread. The nutritional composition of each daily amount of bread was then calculated accordingly (Table 1).

Table 1 Daily amount and composition of study treatment breads1

Daily portions of the treatment breads were packaged into freezer bags and immediately distributed or frozen until distributed to participants in 2 week supplies on study d 1, 14 and 28. Participants were instructed to consume their treatment bread in place of other bread products (e.g. bagels, pitas, dinner rolls) or carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g. pasta, rice). Participants continued their habitual diet with the exception of avoiding natural health products (except for multi-vitamin/mineral supplements which were permitted).

Data collection and sample analysis

Participants reported to the laboratory on d 0, 1, 14, 28, 42 and 43, of each treatment period. For each set of 3-d before a fasted blood sample, participants were instructed to avoid caffeine, alcohol and strenuous exercise. On d -1, 0, 41 and 42, participants were instructed to consume a standard meal by 8 pm consisting of a single-serving lasagna, apple or orange juice box, and chocolate or vanilla pudding or chocolate granola bar, after which, only water was permitted.

Body measurements

Height was measured on d 0 using a standard measuring tape or a stadiometer (Seca Mod. 220, Germany) (depended on availability but consistent within a participant), with participants standing with their feet together and back and heels against the wall or the vertical bar of the stadiometer.

Body weight was measured on d 0, 1, 14, 28, 42 and 43 of each treatment period using an analog (Ohaus I-10, VA, USA), household (Hydro Scale, Taiwan) or balance beam (Seca Mod. 220, Germany) scale (depended on availability but consistent within a participant) with participants wearing a light shirt, no shoes and having empty pockets. BMI was calculated as body weight (kg)/height (m2).

Waist circumference was measured using a standard measuring tape on d 0, 1, 42 and 43 of each treatment period between the top of the iliac crest (hip bones) and the bottom of the rib cage with participants wearing a light shirt.

Body composition was measured on d 0, 1, 42 and 43 of each treatment period using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) (BodyStat™ 1500, BodyStat Ltd., MI, USA) with participants resting in a supine position. Participants were instructed to consume at least 2 glasses of water the evening before their BIA measurement to increase the measurement’s accuracy.

Diastolic and systolic blood pressure was measured in duplicate using a blood pressure monitor (Dinamap™ Plus Vital Signs Monitor, Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc., FL, USA) on d 0, 1, 42 and 43 of each treatment period, after the participants were rested for 5 min.

Food records

Three-d food records were completed on d -3 to -1, 12 to 14, 30 to 32 and 39 to 41 of each treatment period. Participants were provided food record sheets with space to indicate time of food or drink consumption, amount and a detailed description. Food records were analyzed for 3-d average intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, total fat, SFA, MUFA, PUFA and cholesterol using the ESHA Food Analysis program (Version 9.8.0, Salem, OR, USA).

Glycemic parameters

Fasted venous blood samples were collected on d 0, 1, 42 and 43 of each treatment period for analysis of whole blood glucose, serum insulin and plasma glucagon. Data were averaged from d 0 and 1, and from d 42 and 43. To reduce the effects of inter-assay variability, all samples from the same participant were analyzed in the same assay.

Whole blood for glucose was prepared from blood collected into sodium heparin coated collection tubes (BD Vacutainer(tm), Becton, Dickinson and Company, NJ, USA), mixed thoroughly and kept on ice until measurement in duplicate using a glucose auto-analyzer (YSI2300 Stat Plus, YSI Inc., Yellow Springs, OH, USA). Intra-assay variability for glucose was 1.3%.

Serum for insulin was processed from blood collected into anti-coagulant-free collection tubes (Beckman Allegra® Beckman Coulter Inc., CA, USA), left to clot at room temperature for 30 min, centrifuged at 1500 × g for 15 min at 5°C, aliquoted and frozen at -20°C until analysis. Serum insulin was analyzed using a single antibody-coated tube RIA with 125I-labeled hormone (Coat-A-Count, Siemens Medical Solution Diagnostics, CA, USA). Inter- and intra-assay variability for insulin was 1.4% and 1.9%, respectively.

Plasma for glucagon was prepared from blood collected into K2 EDTA collection tubes (BD Vacutainer™) with 6 μL of dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitor (Millipore, MO, USA). Within 1 min of collection, 90 μL of bovine lung aprotinin (Sigma Aldrich, MO, USA) was added and mixed thoroughly. Collection tubes were centrifuged 5-15 min later at 1000 × g for 10 min at 5°C and plasma was frozen at -20°C until analysis. Plasma glucagon was analyzed using a double antibody RIA with 125I-labeled hormone (Millipore, MO, USA). Inter- and intra-assay variability for glucagon was 3.7% and 3.6%, respectively.

The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated as fasted whole blood glucose (mmol·L-1) × fasted serum insulin (pmol·L-1)/22.5.

Serum lipids and apolipoproteins

Fasted venous blood samples were collected on d 0 and 43 of each treatment period for analysis of serum lipids and apolipoproteins into anti-coagulant-free collection tubes, left to clot at room temperature for 30 min, centrifuged at 1500 × g for 15 min at 5°C and frozen at -20°C until analysis. Serum total-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and TAG were measured at Guelph General Hospital (Guelph, ON, Canada) using an auto-analyzer (Synchron CX systems, Beckman Coulter, Mississauga, ON, Canada) with all samples from each participant in the same batch. LDL-cholesterol was calculated using the Friedewald equation when TAG ≤ 4.52 mmol·L-1) and non-HDL-cholesterol was calculated as total-cholesterol minus HDL-cholesterol. Calculations were also performed for the ratios of total-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol, TAG:HDL-cholesterol and non-HDL-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol. Inter- and intra-assay variability, respectively, was 1.6% and 5.7% for total-cholesterol, 7.3% and 8.4% for HDL-cholesterol, and 8.2% and 4.8% for TAG.

Serum apolipoprotein B and apolipoprotein AI were analyzed at the Lipid Analytical Laboratory (Toronto, ON, Canada) by end-point nephelometry using a Behring Nephelometer ProSpec(r) System Assay Loader (Dade Behring Inc., Mississauga, ON, Canada) with all samples from each participant in the same batch, and the apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein AI ratio was calculated. Inter- and intra-assay variability, respectively, was 5.0% and 6.1% for apolipoprotein B, and 10.8% and 5.8% for apolipoprotein AI.

Polymorphism genotyping

Venous whole blood for genotyping was collected into sodium heparin coated collection tubes, mixed thoroughly and refrigerated at 4°C for 1-2 d before analysis. Whole blood samples were collected on d 42 of the last treatment period for 14 of the participants and within 3 months of completion of the study for 13 of the participants (sample was not collected from 1 participant (male NGI)).

DNA was extracted from fresh heparinized whole blood using a QIAamp DNA Blood Mini Kit (Qiagen, CA, USA). Genomic DNA was then amplified using an Illustra GenomiPhi V2 DNA Amplification Kit (GE Healthcare, Baie d’Urfe, QC, Canada). The e missense SNPs of the APOE gene (E2, E3, E4) were characterized by methods described by Wood et al. . Described briefly, following PCR amplification of the 244 bp fragment of the APOE gene, variants were identified by HhaI digestion, separated on an 18% polyacrylamide gel and visualized with SYBR green (Invitrogen, ON, Canada) staining. LIPC -514C>T genotyping was performed using methods described by Couture et al. . Described briefly, following the amplification of the 285 bp fragment of the LIPC gene, variants were identified using NlaIII digestion, separated on a 6% polyacrylamide gel and visualized with SYBR green staining. LIPC -250G>A genotyping was performed using methods described by van’t Hooft et al. . Described briefly, following the PCR amplification of the 710 bp fragment of the LIPC gene promoter, variants were identified using DraI digestion, separated on a 1.5% agarose gel and visualized with ethidium bromide staining.

Study diary

A daily study diary was kept during each treatment period in which participants were instructed to record how and when they consumed their treatment bread, physical activity, illness and medication use.

Statistical analyses

The Statistical Analysis System, version 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA) was used for all statistical analyses with significance set at P ≤ 0.05 and unless indicated otherwise, all data are presented mean ± SEM. Examination of all data using box plots, stem leaf diagrams and normal probability plots revealed that serum insulin, plasma glucagon, HOMA-IR, serum TAG and TAG:HDL-cholesterol were not normally distributed and were therefore logarithmically transformed prior to statistical analyses and presented as geometric mean (95% CI).

Comparisons of participant baseline characteristics (body weight, BMI, body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure, whole blood glucose, serum insulin, HOMA-IR, plasma glucagon, serum lipids) between the NGI and HGI group were completed using unpaired Student’s t-tests.

Comparison of serum lipids among identified genotypes (E2/E3, E3/E3 and E3/E4; -514CC and -514CT; -250GG and -250GA) within the NGI and HGI groups were completed using ANOVA, controlling for genotype, followed by the Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons.

The effect of treatment on the average of d 42 and 43 values for body measurements (body weight, BMI, waist circumference, body fat) and glycemic parameters (fasted whole blood glucose, fasted serum insulin, HOMA-IR, fasted plasma glucagon) was determined within the NGI and HGI groups separately using repeated measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), controlling for participant, treatment period and treatment and including the average of d 0 and 1 values as a covariate, followed by the Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons.

The effect of treatment on energy and nutrient (protein, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, total fat, SFA, MUFA, PUFA, cholesterol) intakes was determined within the NGI and HGI groups separately using unpaired Student’s t-tests.

The effect of treatment on serum lipids at d 43 was determined within the NGI and HGI group separately using repeated measures ANCOVA, controlling for participant, treatment period and treatment and including d 1 values as a covariate, followed by the Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons. The influence of genotype (E2/E3, E3/E3 and E3/E4; -514CC and -514CT; -250GG and -250GA) on the effect of treatment on serum lipids at d 43 was determined within the NGI and HGI group separately using repeated measures ANCOVA, controlling for participant, treatment period and treatment and including d 1 values as a covariate, followed by the Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons.

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