Do Health-Boosting Foods Really Work?

More and more foods claiming to have significant health benefits are hitting the shelves – products like ‘good’ bacteria-boosting yoghurts, cholesterol-lowering spreads, and high-fibre brans, for example.

Consequently, many consumers are starting to notice these products and ask questions like: ‘what is high cholesterol?’ and ‘what is good bacteria?’ Of course, the underlying concern for most is also – ‘do these health-boosting foods really work?’ And ‘should we be adding them to our weekly grocery list?’

Can Health Foods Be Beneficial?
The good news for consumers is that, in many cases, these health-boosting foods do work as described. And for those wanting to be more proactive regarding their health, adding them to your shopping basket can be advantageous; giving the body a little extra help to remain healthy.

For Cholesterol
If you’re wondering – what is high cholesterol? Or more specifically – ‘do I have it?’ – It is described as being above 5mmol/L for an adult. Shockingly, an estimated half of all adults in the UK suffer from high cholesterol, which in turn increases their risk of heart attack and stroke. This statistic has resulted in the public being urged to monitor and manage their levels, which fortunately, can be simple in most cases. According to the British Heart Foundation, consuming 2 – 2.5g of plant sterols or stanols every day can help lower cholesterol – and these can be found in cholesterol-lowering spreads that can be used in the same way as regular butters, margarines, and fat spreads.

For Digestive Health
High fibre brans and probiotic yoghurts are also sensible choices for those looking to improve their health – particularly digestive health. High fibre brans can make it easier to reach the recommended daily allowance, helping to keep the digestive system in optimum condition. Probiotic yoghurts work by introducing ‘good’ bacteria into the gut, and they have been found to reduce lactose-related stomach upsets and stimulate the gut’s immune system by reducing the risk of digestive inflammation and discomfort.

How to Enjoy the Benefits of Health-Boosting Foods
It’s important for consumers to remember that while health-boosting foods do work, they cannot fully counteract the effects of a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. Consumers who eat ‘good’ bacteria yoghurts, cholesterol-lowering spreads, and high-fibre brans should do so alongside a sensible diet. Even small changes to diet and exercise plans can help consumers get the most from these foods. For example…

The NHS reports that people who drink more than two glasses of fizzy pop per day are at greater risk of developing high cholesterol, so swapping out pop for water can have big benefits. For consumers who don’t enjoy water, try making it more interesting by transforming it into a fresh, health, and colourful ice slushie with a snow cone or slush maker machine.

Help high-fibre brans to do their job by introducing other sources of fibre into your diet. Try swapping white bread for wholegrain bread, spaghetti and other pastas for homemade vegetable noodles, and rice for bulgur. Consuming the recommended daily allowance of fibre – 18g per day – can help improve digestive health and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

Eating high sugar foods can affect how well probiotic yoghurts work. Research suggests that a high sugar intake can affect the efficiency of the gut, as the sugar ‘feeds’ the bad bacteria, encouraging it to multiply. Even if the good bacteria are supplemented with probiotics, it is still likely to be outnumbered by the bad if consumers fail to adhere to a healthy diet.

So, for those that have been asking ‘what is high cholesterol?’ and wondering ‘could health-boosting foods really help me?’ – there is enough evidence to suggest that – when consumed alongside a good diet and healthy lifestyle – these foods can have a significant benefit to overall health and wellbeing, even helping to reduce the risk of diseases including heart disease, stroke, and slow digestion.