Step 3: Use Special Cholesterol-Lowering Foods
For most people, following a plant-based diet and avoiding trans fats lowers cholesterol impressively. But there is one more step you can take. You can choose foods with a special cholesterol-lowering effect.
Red Yeast Rice
Around 800 AD in China, it was found that red yeast cultivated on rice produces compounds that are good for health. But it was not for another 1200 years that it was discovered that the compound produced in red yeast rice is actually lovastatin – the same compound that is marketed as the cholesterol-lowering prescription drug Mevacor. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver.
Although red yeast rice is widely available without a prescription and appears to have fewer side effects compared to statin drugs, it is important to remember that it is, in effect, a natural pharmaceutical that should be used under a physician’s direction. A typical regimen would be 1200 milligrams twice per day.
Oyster mushrooms contain lovastatin, just as red yeast rice does. But they also contain beta-glucans, which help the body eliminate cholesterol. A typical serving would be about one-half cup. Click here for a Linguine With Seared Oyster Mushrooms recipe.
The Power Combo: A Portfolio of Cholesterol-Lowering Foods
At the University of Toronto, Dr. David Jenkins discovered that by combining specific foods, you can achieve a cholesterol-lowering effect that compares very favorably with that of medications.
In his research, Dr. Jenkins asked a group of patients to avoid animal products and to choose from a “portfolio” of special foods. The result was quick and dramatic. Their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell nearly 30 percent in four weeks –essentially the same drop as is seen with cholesterol-lowering drugs.1
Here is the combination that did the trick:
Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber
Oats, beans, okra, and barley are rich in soluble fiber, which helps your body eliminate cholesterol. How about starting your day with a bowl of old-fashioned oats? If you chose cold oat cereals, top them with soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk.
For lunch, have baked beans, black beans, hummus (made from chickpeas), split pea soup, lentil soup, or other varieties. If beans give you a bit of gas, have smaller servings and be sure they are cooked until very soft. Barley is a great addition to soups. Or add it to rice for added flavor. Okra is a southern staple, but it is a healthy addition to any diet in soups, stews, or curries.