The greatest contribution scientific discovery has brought to mankind is to replace guesswork with reasoned inquiry. The utility of this tool is writ large in health advice, which is no longer based on dubious claims, but rigorous research. One of the most important insights thrown up by scientific inquiry is the role diet plays in warding off the threat of heart disease, a major killer both in the UK and worldwide.
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Specific dietary items have been shown to provide a buffer against heart disease, increasing your chances of leading a long life.
Certain cooking oils, for example, have been shown to boost heart health.
Here are three such oils:
Extra virgin olive oil
Several studies have pointed to the heart-healthy benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, and extra virgin olive oil is a staple of this diet.
One five-year study gave older adults at risk of heart disease four tablespoons (60 ml) a day of extra virgin olive oil alongside a Mediterranean diet.
The olive oil group had a 30 percent lower risk of major heart events, such as stroke and heart attack, compared to people who followed a low-fat diet.
Olive oil is also a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, the kind that may help raise “good” HDL and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood that can clog up your arteries, raising your risk of heart disease.
HDL cholesterol counters this harmful process by carrying cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, where it is removed from the body.
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Flaxseed oil, which is derived from dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant, has also been shown to protect heart health.
One study in 59 people compared the effects of flaxseed oil to those of safflower oil, a type of oil high in omega-6 fatty acids.
In this study, supplementing with one tablespoon (15 ml) of flaxseed oil for 12 weeks led to significantly lower blood pressure levels than supplementing with safflower oil.
This is significant because high blood pressure, like cholesterol, narrows the vessels that transports blood to your heart, increasing your risk of heart disease.
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Research also suggest that flaxseed oil may also improve the elasticity of the arteries, another key protective measure.
Evidence also suggests that the properties found in sesame oil, an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds, may also protect the heart.
Health bodies, such as the NHS recommend packing your diet with a type of fat called unsaturated fats to prevent heart disease.
Nutritional data shows that sesame oil comprises 82 percent unsaturated fatty acids, making it an essential food.
Research also shows that it is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, a type of fat called polyunsaturated fat, that is essential to your diet and plays an important role in heart disease prevention.
What’s more, research in rats suggests that sesame oil may help prevent heart disease and even slow the development of plaque in your arteries.
In addition, in fact, it may lower your cholesterol levels when used in place of oils high in saturated fats.
A one-month study in 48 adults found those who consumed four tablespoons (59 ml) of sesame oil daily had greater reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, compared with those who consumed olive oil.
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