Fruits And Vegetables Contain Plant Chemicals That Lower Cholesterol, Says American Heart Association

June 03, 1997

DALLAS, June 3 - Some plants appear to contain cholesterol-lowering substances that may give Americans another reason to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.

In a statement released by the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee, Barbara Howard, Ph.D., president of the Medlantic Research Institute, Washington, D.C., says foods that have been studied for their cholesterol-lowering effects include tea, garlic, onion, leeks, wine and nuts. Some of these foods, especially garlic, have been thought to contain a "miracle" ingredient; however research finds another explanation. These foods are high in "phytochemicals" such as sterols, flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds that inhibit cholesterol absorption.

In the statement, published in today's Circulation, Howard says that in addition to the vitamins and minerals, "other components of plants may be important, and consumption of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain produces is recommended."

She cautions not to go overboard on these phytochemical-containing foods. Large intakes of garlic can cause anemia or allergies.
Media Advisory: Dr. Howard can be reached in Washington at (202) 877-6536.

American Heart Association

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