Foods containing barley could lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, studies show
Why cholesterol is bad for you
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Around half of all adults in the UK have high cholesterol, putting them at greater risk of some serious health conditions. Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Over time this can lead to blockages in the arteries making you more likely to suffer from medical emergencies such as heart attacks or strokes.
Therefore, keeping your cholesterol levels low is vitally important.
One common cause of high cholesterol is diet.
More specifically, eating foods full of saturated fats can result in high cholesterol.
However, diet can also be one way to lower your cholesterol levels.
According to studies, barley is known to have cholesterol-lowering effects.
Barley is a member of the grass family and is a cereal grain.
It can be found in foods such as bread, soup and stews – just check the label for contents, or use it in home cooking.
A review of 14 existing studies, published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that eating barley could help lower not one but two types of “bad” cholesterol.
It concluded that the grain reduced both low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and non-high-density lipoprotein, or non-HDL, by seven per cent.
Researchers also found that barley had similar cholesterol-lowering effects as oats, which is often the go-to grain for health benefits.
One of the study authors, Doctor Vladimir Vuksan, said in Science Daily: “Barley’s positive effect on lowering cholesterol is well-documented and has been included in the Canadian strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.
“Health Canada, the FDA and several health authorities worldwide have already approved health claims that barley lowers LDL cholesterol, but this is the first review showing the effects on other harmful lipids.
“The findings are most important for populations at high risk for cardiovascular disease, such as type 2 diabetics, who have normal levels of LDL cholesterol, but elevated levels of non-HDL or apo B.
“Barley has a lowering effect on the total bad cholesterol in these high-risk individuals, but can also benefit people without high cholesterol.”
Separate research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also championed the cholesterol-lowering benefits of barley.
As part of a trial, 25 mildly hypercholesterolemic adults were fed a controlled diet for five weeks with barley introduced after two weeks.
“Total cholesterol was significantly lower when the diet contained three or six grams of beta-glucan/d from barley than when it contained no beta-glucan; the greatest change occurred in the men and postmenopausal women,” it said.
The study concluded: “The addition of barley to a healthy diet may be effective in lowering total and LDL cholesterol in both men and women.”
A healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is typically considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l and you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.
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