Seeds of Heart Health for the New Year

You’ve probably heard my mantra for a healthy diet (borrowed from author Michael Pollan):  “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  To expand on this, we can look to the Mediterranean diet — that style of eating that is based on whole grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes (beans), and smaller amounts of animal-based protein.  This simple approach works well for maintaining a healthy body weight, and preventing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

A review (1) in the journal Clinical Lipidology (yes, you read that right; “lipidology” means the study of cholesterol and other fats) looks at dietary factors most associated with lowering cholesterol.

“The foods with the most evidence for cholesterol reduction are nuts, legumes, whole cereals rich in soluble fiber, and cocoa and its main commercial product, chocolate.”

OK — this sounds a lot like the Mediterranean diet.  What the author goes on to point out, though, is that all of these foods are actually seeds.  Obvious once someone points it out, isn’t it?  Yet with as many years as I’ve taught patients and students about nutrition, this struck me as a beautifully concise revelation.  Even whole grains like oats are seeds.  And chocolate?  Yes, please!

Seeds contain fiber, healthy fats, and disease-busting phytonutrients.  Think of them as plant foods bursting with concentrated potential.

1.  Ros E.  How Important Is Dietary Management in Hypercholesterolemia?  Clin Lipidology. 2012;7(5):489-492.

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