Raisins are a naturally sweet way to help lower your cholesterol and keep it normal. Raisins contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, potassium and antioxidants -- all of which may benefit your heart. Raisins contain natural sugar, and you can eat them alone, as a topping or as a chewy addition to many dishes.
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Researchers of a study published in "Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental" in 2009 found that when people consumed 1 cup of raisins daily and also walked, they lowered their low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol. Raisins contain both insoluble fiber, which helps you stay regular, and viscous soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol. One cup of raisins contains a little over 6 grams of fiber. You may not need to eat an entire cup every day; instead, use raisins to increase your daily fiber intake.
Potassium for Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, healthy adults should consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily because potassium helps regulate your fluid balance and blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase your risk of high cholesterol. High blood pressure leads to the stretching of your blood vessels and artery walls. Lots of stretching can cause tiny rips in the walls of your blood vessels and arteries, leading to scar tissue. Cholesterol can then get caught in the scar tissue crevices, resulting in high cholesterol. Raisins are a rich source of potassium, with almost 310 milligrams in just 1/4 cup. Adding raisins to your diet may help increase your potassium to control your blood pressure, as one 12-week clinical trial published in the "Journal of Food Science" in 2013 showed. This effect may indirectly prevent or lower high cholesterol.
Antioxidants in Action
Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory -- they help widen your blood vessel and artery walls, and this may decrease your risk for high cholesterol. The researchers of the 2013 "Journal of Food Science" study found that eating raisins decreased inflammation. Patients had a reduction in LDL cholesterol that had already been oxidized -- stored in vessel walls and increasing the risk of further cholesterol buildup. The raisin eaters also experienced a reduction in total cholesterol.
Preventing Weight Gain
The American Heart Association defines obesity in terms of a body mass index above 30 and says the condition can lead to high cholesterol. Many clinical researchers who have studied the effects of raisins in the diet agree that this food can prevent weight gain because the fiber in raisins increases your satiety or feeling of fullness, which means you'll eat less.