Can superfruit sea buckthorn lower cholesterol?
Reported January 16, 2009
I have heard a lot about a berry called sea
buckthorn that may help to lower cholesterol. What do you know about it and
can you recommend any other dietary steps I can take other than cutting down
on bad fats?
Sea buckthorn is a shrub that bears prolific amounts of soft, juicy, orange
berries packed with antioxidants and super nutrients including high levels
of vitamin C, flavonoids and other super nutrients, some of which are
believed to have cholesterol-lowering properties.
Scientists have found a way to extract the juice from the berries that
appears to keep good proportions of these substances intact. Although in
theory this property may make sea buckthorn juice and jam helpful in
reducing cholesterol, as the medical herbalist Dr Ann Walker explains, there
is no official research to back such claims up and not a huge amount of
traditional usage to rely on either. Nor are sea buckthorn products easily
available in the UK.
The most important point to make here, and I don't know whether you fall
into one of these categories or not, is that no one who has an inherited
form of high cholesterol, has had a heart attack or stroke and/or has
diabetes or raised blood pressure should start to self-medicate with any
herbal and alternative remedies without first seeking their doctor's
For all people in these groups, it is crucial
to follow your doctor's advice, which will almost inevitably involve taking
statins, a type of drug that blocks the enzymes that play a key role in the
production of cholesterol in your liver (most cholesterol in our blood is
made in our liver rather than being eaten directly in food, and the more
saturated fats you eat,the more cholesterol is made).
If you do not fall into any of the high-risk categories mentioned above, or
you have your GP's approval, then you could try a style of eating that has
been clinically proven to lower cholesterol by 20 to 30 per cent, a similar
scale to that achieved by statins. It is called the Portfolio Eating Plan
and involves eating a selection or “portfolio” of foods every day, each of
which has its own cholesterol-lowering capabilities. When added together,
these have a cumulative effect.
The list of foods includes a daily handful of almonds (23 in total), which
contain plenty of heart-friendly antioxidants and fibre, plus a selection of
foods that are rich in soluble fibre - including, for instance, porridge
oats, apples, pears, baked beans, other pulses, oranges and prunes. Soluble
fibre helps to grab “bad” cholesterol in the digestive system and remove it
from our bodies in our stools.
Next comes three to four servings of soya foods such as soya milk or
yoghurt, tofu, soya beans or a soya burger, because soya protein is believed
to lower cholesterol. Finally, around two servings of foods such as Flora
Proactive or Benecol spreads or yoghurts are also included. These are
fortified with plant stanols, which work in a similar way to soluble fibre.
To these foods each week you add a few servings of oily fish, very lean meat
and poultry, wholegrain cereals and plenty of other fruits and vegetables.
And, needless to say, cutting down on foods that are rich in saturated fats
such as full fat dairy foods, puddings, cakes and biscuits, fast food and
pastry-rich foods is also vital.
Other foods that may help to lower cholesterol include avocados, pumpkin
seeds, red kidney beans, peas, cashews and peanut butter. All contain the
substance beta-sitosterol, which competes with absorption of cholesterol and
wins, potentially helping to lower blood cholesterol.