Cholesterol is a yellow fatty substance and a principal ingredient in the digestive juice bile, in the fatty sheaths that insulate nerves and in sex hormones, namely estrogen and androgen. It performs several functions such as transportation of fat, providing defense mechanism, protecting red blood cells and muscular membrane of the body. Most of the cholesterol found in the body is produced in the liver. However, about 20 to 30 per cent generally come from the foods we eat.
Safflower oil is a food of exceptional value in lowering blood cholesterol. It possesses the highest linoleic acid content of all edible oils, being 72 per cent on an average. It is one of the most polyunsaturated. The medicinal value of linoleic acid came into prominence in the 1960s following the publication in a series of medical and scientific journals, the findings of researchers. These findings proved that this fatty acid was highly beneficial in lowering serum cholesterol levels in laboratory animals and humans. From virtual obscurity, safflower oil became a best seller within a few years.
Soyabeans are one of the best foods to lower cholesterol. This is attributable to its richness in lecithin. Lecithin, is a fatty food substance and is the most abundant of the phospholipids. This substance is highly beneficial in case of increase in cholesterol level. It has the ability to break up cholesterol into small particles, which can be easily handled by the system.
With sufficient intake of lecithin, cholesterol cannot build up against the walls of the arteries and veins. It also increases the production of bile acids made from cholesterol, thereby reducing its amount in the blood. Other good vegetarian food sources of lecithin are vegetable oils, whole grain cereals and unpasteurised milk.
Sunflower seeds are probably the most familiar of all edible seeds. They are the tightly packed core of the splendid sunflowers. Sunflower kernels are well above average in protein, phosphorus and iron concentration. They are very rich sources of B-complex vitamins. Sunflower seeds are cholesterol lowering food. The seeds contain substantial quantity of linoleic acid, which is the fat helpful in reducing cholesterol deposits on the walls of arteries. Substituting sunflower seeds for some of the solid fats like butter and cream will therefore, help control blood cholesterol and also lead to great improvement in health.
This popular nut is also a food of great value in lowering blood cholesterol. This has been brought out by latest research conducted by Dr. Joan Sabate of Loma Linda University. She studied persons with normal blood cholesterol. All were on a low-fat diet, but for one month they ate 20 per cent of their calories in walnuts, about 55g of walnuts in a daily 1,800-calorie diet.
For another month, they ate no nuts. On the no-nuts diet, their cholesterol dropped an average 6 per cent but on the walnut-eating regime, their cholesterol fell 18 per cent. Average cholesterol dropped 0.57 points. Thus, walnuts added a cholesterol-reducing substance even to an ordinary low-fat diet.
The pulp of grapefruit, the segments with membranes and tiny juice sacs, contain a unique type of soluble fibre called galacturonic acid that helps lower blood cholesterol. It also helps dissolve plaque or reverse plaque formation already clogging the arteries. In one study by Dr. James Cerda, professor of gastroenterology at the University of Florida, it was discovered that the grapefruit fibre, found in about 340g of grapefruit segments eaten every day, lowered blood cholesterol by about 10 per cent.
Some foods serve as diuretics. However, plant foods do not function as diuretics the same way as do the pharmaceutical drugs. This opinion has been expressed by plant expert Dr. Varro Tyler of Purdue University. Pharmaceutical diuretics increase the excretion of water and salt, whereas plant foods stimulate only a loss of water and not sodium. They should therefore be appropriately called “aquaretics”, says Dr. Tyler. These foods do this by irritating the cellular filters of the kidneys. However, their irritating mechanism could be detrimental to those having kidney disease. Such persons should therefore avoid the use of diuretic foods.
The grape has an exceptional diuretic value on account of its high contents of water and potassium salt. Its low albumin and sodium chloride contents enhance its value in urinary system disorder. It is an excellent food in acute and chronic nephritis and in kidney and bladder stones.
Cardamom helps increase the secretion and discharge of urine. Its powdered seeds, mixed with a tablespoon of banana leaf and Indian goosebery juice, taken thrice a day, serve as a valuable diuretic food. It is very effective in treating diseases like gonorrhoea, cystitis, nephritis, burning micturition or urination and scanty urination.
Garlic greatly helps stimulate immune functioning. Its anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-cancer properties are partly partly due to its ability to enhance immune functioning. It particularly stimulates the power of T-lymphocytes and macro-phages, which play a dominant role in immune functions. This has been discovered by Benjamin H.S. Lau, M.D., of the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University. In laboratory tests, he found that garlic extract impeled macrophages to generate more agents to kill microbes and tumour cells. Dr. Lau calls garlic a biological response modifier.
Immune system is a complex interaction among cells in many parts of the body. They all co-ordinate to protect the body from foreign invaders. The immune system is not located in any one organ system or part of the body. The brain, the blood, the liver, the bone marrow, the lymph system, the spleen, the thymus, the skin, and some endocrine glands all work together to make up the immune system.
Pearled barley has always been used by Oriental folk physicians for the healing and the rejuvenation of the digestive system. A simple, yet effective folk remedy was to make barley brew that could be sipped throughout the day while other foods were restricted or limited. This folk remedy has helped many people, even to this day. To prepare this brew, one-quarter cup of all natural pearled barley should be boiled in two litres of water. It should be strained when half the water has evaporated.
According to Dr. Edward Henderson, a past president of the American Geriatric Society, the age of one hundred is a realistic and conceivable goal. Dr. Thomas S.Gardiner, one of the founders of the National Foundation for Anti-ageing Research, believes that we have not even approached the normal span of life. He claims that most ageing is premature, and that body organs are designed to last six to seven times as long as it usually takes the average person to reach maturity. He believes that we could double the life span.