There are many, many benefits linked with eating a plant-based diet, but one of the most compelling reward is heart health. Hundreds of studies point out that eating a more plant-based diet lowers your risk of heart disease. And this protective effect is due to the many heart-healthy benefits of eating more plants: reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, lower levels of inflammation and oxidative stress, healthier vessels, lower blood pressure levels, and more.
Why are plants so good for your heart? Well, they have scores of healthful substances, like dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. And one other naturally occurring compound they have is plant stanols.
What are plant stanols? They are essential components of plants that resemble cholesterol. And because of this similarity, plant stanols have the ability to block LDL cholesterol from being absorbed in your body, while still maintaining “good” HDL cholesterol levels. That’s why it’s so good to eat a diet rich in whole plant foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Supplementing Your Diet with Plant Stanols. In addition to eating a plant-based diet, there are benefits you can gain from supplementing your diet with plant stanols. That’s because plants contain tiny amounts of plant stanols. Researchers discovered that adding greater amounts of plant stanols to the diet through plant stanol-enriched foods significantly lowers blood cholesterol levels. This is an especially great option for people who have high LDL cholesterol levels.
Try Benecol. A great way to supplement your diet with plant stanols is to use Benecol®, a plant-based margarine spread with a buttery taste. Benecol® has been reformulated to contain 2 grams of plant stanols in a 2-tablespoon serving. That’s the amount that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in as little as 2 weeks. In fact, 80 clinical studies have documented the clinical benefits of consuming plant stanols.
Benecol®, which contains healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, comes in Original with 70 calories per serving, and Light with 50 calories per serving. The ingredients include plant oils, plant-derived plant stanol esters, and a tiny amount of buttermilk and whey.
It’s easy to include plant stanols in your diet with Benecol®; you can spread it on your morning whole grain toast, mix it into baked goods like muffins or pancakes, or melt it over your evening baked potato. For more information about powering up on plant stanols, check out http://www.benecolusa.com/.
Functional Foods Fact Sheet: Plant Stanols and Sterols. Food Insight. June 30, 2007. Accessed: http://www.foodinsight.org/Functional_Foods_Fact_Sheet_Plant_Stanols_and_Sterols
Note: This post is sponsored by Benecol®.