3 Surprising Heart Health Benefits Of Eating These Fruits
You’ve probably been advised to eat more fiber. But did you know that the type of fiber makes a big difference? Some types of fiber can actually be harmful in excess. In fact, some types of fiber can actually cause constipation! So you want to eat the right types.
Today I’m going to tell you about a special type of fiber found in many delicious and enjoyable foods that can offer you many health benefits. It’s called pectin, and it’s proven to do some impressive things, including reducing high cholesterol, reversing hypertension, and lowering diabetes risk.
Pectin is a type of fiber found primarily in fruits and to a lesser extent in some vegetables. Some of the best sources of pectin are apples, oranges, pears, potatoes, carrots, and apricots.
People have been taking advantage of pectin for centuries as it is the way in which jams are made. Initially, only pectin-rich fruits were used to make jams. But then in 1825 pectin was isolated and extracted.
Initially, pectin was extracted and used primarily for making jams. But then people began to discover that it had many other beneficial properties. One of those properties is that it is a fiber source that has been found to have healthy effects in humans.
High cholesterol levels in the blood can be an indication of cardiovascular disease. But more importantly, the ratio of the types of cholesterol transporters (HDL and LDL) is what indicates the degree of health. When HDL levels are high and LDL levels are low, that indicates good health, even if total cholesterol levels are high. But when HDL levels are low and LDL levels are high, that indicates a problem.
Although drug companies are still trying to convince people that artificially lowering cholesterol levels is a good idea, research shows that’s not true. In fact, statin drugs that lower cholesterol levels artificially can be dangerous.
But things that improve the HDL to LDL ratio naturally are proven to improve health. And pectin is one such thing. Studies have shown that pectin naturally lowers the levels of LDL in the blood. That indicates that heart health is better. And people who eat plenty of natural pectin are healthier as a result.
Along with elevated LDL, high blood pressure is another sign of cardiovascular disease. And high blood pressure is a common problem among American men. In fact, more than half of men over the age of 60 have dangerously high blood pressure.
The good news is that pectin has been proven to lower high blood pressure.
Stable Blood Sugar
Insulin resistant diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in modern times. Insulin resistant diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become dangerously high. As a result, many men develop complications, including heart disease.
Yet again, pectin has been proven to help. In one study it was found that dietary pectin could reverse mild insulin resistance. Not only that, but it also improves other related factors. For example, pectin can reduce fats in the blood.
Eating More Pectin
The health benefits of pectin are obvious. So how can you eat more pectin regularly? Most men eat a very small amount of pectin. In fact, it’s estimated that most Americans eat less than 5 grams of pectin per day. Largely, that’s because they aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. But it’s also because they aren’t eating many of the foods highest in pectin regularly.
In order to get the most benefits from pectin, strive to eat high pectin foods daily. Here are some tips.
- Apples are a great source of pectin. Much of it is found in the peels. So eat at least one apple daily with the skin. Apples make a great snack between meals, or you can eat an apple with a meal. Green apples (like Granny Smith varieties) are the highest in pectin, but all varieties are a good source.
- Eat more whole oranges instead of orange juice. And in particular, eat the pithy part. In fact, the peels (which contain the most pith) are the best source of pectin known. Although most of us aren’t accustomed to eating citrus peels, many people have eaten them traditionally. Grated up finely they are called zest and are added to a variety of recipes.
- Snack on carrots and eat more cooked carrots in meals. Carrots are the vegetable highest in pectin.
- Other foods that are good sources of pectin include plums, grapes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
If you eat these foods on a daily basis, you’ll easily increase your pectin intake naturally. Some people choose to use supplemental pectin. And while that may be fine for most people, be careful as supplemental pectin can be irritating for a small minority of people. Generally, it’s best to stick to whole food sources of pectin when possible.
When you include more pectin-rich foods in your diet regularly, you can expect to find that your cardiovascular health starts to improve. As signs of that, you may notice that your HDL to LDL ratio improves, your blood pressure normalizes, and your blood sugar becomes more stable.