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Drink to reduce cholesterol

This article is supplied by a company selling beta-glucan supplement. I intentionally delete the commercial advertisement info.

Most food in the restaurants, hawker centers and mamak stalls are unhealthy. Consume them occasionally is fine, you shall not take them as your daily staple food unless you want to join 1Malaysia Heart Disease club.

Oats and barley contain high levels of beta glucan, which is acknow-ledged by many expert authorities as having cholestreol-lowering properties. – AFP

Oats and barley contain high levels of beta glucan, which is acknow-ledged by many expert authorities as having cholestreol-lowering properties. – AFP

Beta-glucan is a special dietary fibre that is found abundantly in grains and is well-documented for its cholesterol-lowering properties.

DID you know that there are foods that can increase your cholesterol levels, as well as those that work to lower it?

The fact is, cholesterol is essential for the production of hormones, as well as bile, which is required to digest fats. However, too much cholesterol can increase our risk of getting heart diseases and stroke.

Heart disease is the No.1 killer in Malaysia, and one of the main causes of this is high blood cholesterol levels.

Studies have found that a 10% decrease in total blood cholesterol levels can reduce the incidence of heart disease by as much as 30%.

In Malaysia, delicious food such as nasi lemak, roti canai, fried chicken, char kuey teow, laksa lemak, prawn noodles, fish-head curry, mutton biryani and the list goes on, are unhealthy and rich in cholesterol. Apart from the excessive cholesterol content, they are also high in saturated fat and trans fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

And it is not just about the trans fat and satu-rated fat content, but also the way you cook. Avoid deep-fried foods, remove excess fat from meats, and peel away skin from chicken before cooking.

The good news is, high cholesterol is simple to detect, and there are ways to bring it down. Besides exercise, diet plays a very important role in lowering your cholesterol. There are certain natural grains that are good in lowering cholesterol levels, such as oats and barley, which are rich sources of beta-glucan – a natural cholesterol-lowering agent.

Beta-glucan is a special dietary fibre that is found abundantly in grains and is well-documented for its cholesterol-lowering properties.

Oats and barley contain high levels of beta-glucan, which is acknowledged by many experts as having cholesterol-lowering properties.

However, one must consume at least 3g of beta-glucan from oats and barley daily, coupled with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, for expected results.

Oat and barley beta-glucan help in many different ways:

*Binds cholesterol from food and reduces absorption of cholesterol in the body.

*Binds to bile acid produced from cholesterol in the liver and removes it from the body.

*Binds to saturated fat from the diet to reduce its absorption. Saturated fat is associated with elevated cholesterol levels.

*Helps control after-meal sugar spikes. Beta-glucan delays the rate of absorption of glucose (sugar) in the small intestines and helps to decrease after- meal sugar spikes, which is beneficial for diabetics and pre-diabetics.

*Helps improve bowel function and supports gut health. Beta-glucan, with its bulking effect, helps to improve bowel function and support gut health by stimulating the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the large intestine.

Did you know that you would need to eat about three bowls of regular oatmeal in order to obtain 3g of soluble beta-glucan? Eating three big portions is no easy task. Another option would be to supplement intake with beta-glucan drinks.

Consumers should be discerning about such drinks and should identify a good source that provides a minimum 3g of beta-glucan a day. This is the most important criteria – an effective cholesterol-lowering drink must provide minimum 3g of beta-glucan per day.

This is in accordance to US Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority and the Health Ministry’s permitted nutrient function claims, which states “3g per day of oat and barley soluble fibre (beta-glucan) helps to lower blood cholesterol”.

As most of us consume two heavy meals per day, it is best to take the recommended dose of 3g of beta-glucan in two separate servings of a cholesterol-lowering drink daily to ensure optimal binding of beta-glucan to cholesterol from food (to reduce its absorption into our body).

Read all labels carefully and do not be confused by the many products in the market with varying numbers on their packs. It makes no difference as each product’s daily recommended dose provides a minimum 3g of beta-glucan.

A good tasting cholesterol-lowering drink is an important factor to ensure discipline and long-term consumption for any cholesterol-lowering regime to be effective.

You have the option of a delicious, cholesterol-lowering drink that combines the best of both oats and barley in a 2-in-1 formula. Oats, when combined with barley, has a richer and full-bodied taste to appeal to Malaysian taste buds.

Aside from taste, packaging is also vital. You can look for a cholesterol-lowering drink that comes in convenient, dose-specific sachets for accurate dosing, which you can easily carry in your pocket and handbag for work, leisure or travel.

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