Making your Own Snack Mix to Lower Cholesterol

February 28, 2006

Making your Own Snack Mix to Lower Cholesterol 

 Competency # 13, #14  FATS and SUPERFOOD                Reference: N Engl J Med. 1993 Mar 4;328(9):603-7JAMA 2003 Jul 23; 290 (4): 502-10;Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2005 Nov 30; 53(24):9436-45. 

 This is fun!  I make a snack mix that half my friends call “Llama Chow”.  But it’s made with intention.  There have been lots of anecdotal ways to lower your blood cholesterol by eating.  Many of them involve single elements. One headline or another say’s, “Eat more….”  What we are getting from the literature is a weave and fabric of complexity that suggests our bodies are well served by a variety of foods.  It’s all in the mix. 

 Since the early 90’s and a study in the New England Journal of Medicine we’ve known that walnuts lower your cholesterol. In the early 2000s, the Journal of the American Medical Association had a land mark study on nuts and soy being as effective in lowering cholesterol as anti-cholesterol drugs. Now, in the prestigious Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Nov 30, 2005), something you all read each week, a study comparing the best of nuts to lower your cholesterol comes out in favor of the “best foods” to put in your snack mix.  

Sesame seeds and wheat germ turn out to be the very best at lowering cholesterol.  They are a little hard to eat raw.  So, plan on eating some whole grains every day to get your wheat germ.  

But pistachios and sunflower seeds came in second and they taste great.  

And close behind were almonds and pine nuts.  Pine nuts are too expensive but almonds are delicious. 

 How do they work?  The oils in all these nuts and seeds are unsaturated.  They are liquid at room temperature.  These oils seem to have a very direct effect on your membranes, making them more fluid and flexible.  That allows all the transport proteins in all your cells to be more mobile as they go about making your body's cells work.  And they have lots of phytosterols in them.  

Phytosterols appear to have anti-inflammatory effects as well.  Here is where we see one of the emerging mega-trends in nutrition coming to bear:  the "Common Soil Hypothesis" which states that our endocrine receptors are mixed in and work in common with our inflammatory/anti-inflammatory receptors.  Our metabolism is closely related to inflammation.  Eating well is eating to reduce inflammation.  Cholesterol in our blood may be an indirect marker of inflammation.  But lowering it certainly helps our arteries stay healthy longer.  We have been down the road of taking supplements and found that individual components are just not as good as the whole food.   Here goes:  

Dr. W’s Snack Mix  (All of this is available at Outpost Foods) Raw almonds1 lb Pistachios 8 oz Walnuts.  8 oz Sunflower seeds. 1 lb Sesame seed chunks (Outpost has a variety) Wasabe Peas 1 lb Cajun Sesame sticks. 1 lb Coconut flakes 8 oz     

WWW: What Will Work for Me:  This mix costs me $ 20 dollars to make.  But I get a huge tub of it.  I get snack mix for at least three months out of this recipe: and it’s lowering my cholesterol with every bite.  Think about how you can make your need to nibble into a healthy choice

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD,Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)