Nature Health: Cholesterol lowering foods

Q. I read with interest your advice on cholesterol lowering foods. I was surprised to see you exclude peanuts. I had understood that peanuts were also okay.

Can you tell me why they should be avoided? I have been including peanut butter in my diet in an effort to lower my cholesterol.

A. It is possible to keep peanuts in your diet and lower your cholesterol. Peanuts are thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, due to the fact that regular consumption of raw peanuts lowers triglyceride levels.

Peanuts are usually hulled, roasted, salted, and slightly rancid by the time they reach consumers — which is a far cry from the health food that the peanut can be.

Peanuts are very high in omega 6 fatty acids, which most of us already get far too much of in our diets, throwing the omega 3:6 ratio off balance. Pouring off the oil that sits on the top of your peanut butter will help to reduce the omega-6 content.

Aflatoxin, a poison released by a fungal growth which is common in peanuts, can cause liver damage and is considered to be carcinogenic. This is a concern with peanuts which have been grown or stored in damp conditions. To avoid this, check where your peanuts are grown — if the region in which they are from is a warm, humid, and wet one, then they pose a higher risk. Dry regions such as New Mexico have not had any reports of aflatoxins in their peanuts or peanut butter products.

The soft, porous shell of a peanut also means that this crop suffers a high pest attack rate, so conventionally grown peanuts are also one of the most chemically contaminated crops. This is one of the foods where it is wise to choose organic.

Another interesting fact is peanuts are not nuts at all — they are actually legumes. This is why they have such an impressive protein profile, loaded with fibre, vitamin E, folate, arginine, potassium, magnesium, copper, and zinc.

Q. I have lichen planus in my mouth. It leaves me in pain, with a burning soreness in my mouth. There are white, lace-like, lines on the inside of my cheeks and also on the sides of my tongue. It is being monitored. As you are not doubt aware, there is no cure. Are there any foods I should avoid and is there anything you would recommend to relieve the symptoms?

A. Oral lichen planus is considered to be incurable by the medical profession. This condition usually appears in adults over the age of 40, and is not infectious.

Foods to avoid include crunchy foods, since these can aggravate the lesions, caffeinated beverages, very hot foods or beverages, and spicy or acidic foods (tomato and citrus can be particularly problematic). Probiotic yoghurt can be helpful, and aloe vera juice is useful in treating the lesions.

Lichen planus has been shown in a number of studies to behave as an autoimmune disorder, where healthy cells are attacked by the body’s own immune system.

This means that an immune-modulating supplement, such as Simba from The Little Herbal Company (www.littleherbal-international.co.nz), is worth considering.

Take one capsule three times daily on an empty stomach — 90 capsules cost €32.90, with discounts for purchasing in packs of three.

This is also one of the many conditions that responds well to homeopathic treatment.

It is important to have a complete consultation with a qualified homeopath, since the remedies are chosen to fit with your history and symptoms, rather than being linked with the condition itself.


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