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Washington: Eating a diet that includes peanuts, chickpeas, apples and a little number of plant sterols may lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure, new research has found.
The diet is based on the “Portfolio Diet,” which is a plant-based dietary pattern that emphasises a portfolio of four proven cholesterol-lowering foods.
“Previous clinical trials and observational studies have found strong evidence that a plant-based diet can improve heart health,” said one of the study authors, Hana Kahleova, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC.
“This study demonstrates that certain plant foods are especially effective for lowering cholesterol and boosting our overall cardiovascular health,” Kahleova added.
The diet that the researchers found beneficial included 42 grams of nuts (tree nuts or peanuts), 50 grams of plant protein from soy products or dietary pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils), 20 grams of viscous soluble fiber from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, or berries and two grams of plant sterols from supplements or plant-sterol enriched products per day.
The findings, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, are based on a new meta-analysis, a statistical procedure that integrates the results of several independent studies.
The results suggest that a diet that includes plant protein, fibre, nuts and plant sterols improves several markers for cardiovascular disease risk including reductions in cholesterol level and improvements in blood pressure.
Following the dietary pattern reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the “bad” cholesterol by 17 per cent, while also reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein.
It also helped reduce 10-year coronary heart disease risk by 13 per cent, the study said.
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