10 Ways To Lower Your Cholesterol With Diet
The secret to a healthy heart lies in maintaining a balance between the good and the bad cholesterol.
It may be held responsible for maximum number of heart attacks in the country but the fact still remains that cholesterol is a 100% necessary ingredient in the processes that sustains life.
Besides, all cholesterol is not made equal.
High Density Lipoprotein or HDL Cholesterol, also called “good cholesterol”, is essential to make hormones, vitamin D and cell membranes. Whereas the Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL Cholesterol, normally referred to as “bad cholesterol”, is what causes blockages, when in excess.
The secret to a healthy heart lies in maintaining a balance between the good and the bad cholesterol. And overhauling our diet is a good way to go about it. Here are some diet tips to cut bad cholesterol:
Adopt a Vegetable Heavy Diet
Remember that cholesterol is found in all foods of animal origin, including lean chicken and fish, egg yolk, liver and other organ meat, as well as full-fat dairy products.
In comparison, none of the foods of plant origin including coconut and palm oil or margarine (though equally harmful because of its saturated fat content) have cholesterol.
You don’t have to give up meat entirely, but stick to white meat. Limit intake of red meat to once a fortnight and say no to rich gravies laden with lard.
Get Garlic Power
Begin the day with a pod or two of raw garlic (have them crushed to maximise the benefits) as they are loaded with sulphide compounds which cut cholesterol, and also clear out clogged arteries by helping widen the blood vessels.
Harness Vitamin E
15 mg is the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for vitamin E, an antioxidant that is absolutely essential to prevent hardening of your heart arteries with cholesterol.
Make sure you get enough.
15 gm of sunflower seeds (5 mg) + 15 gm almonds - about 8 (2.5 mg) + 1 1/2 cup spinach (6 mg) + 15 gm peanuts (1.2 mg) + 1 egg (0.5 mg) every day should see you through.
Also try poached eggs over spinach, made in olive oil. It ensures three excellent sources of vitamin E in one go.
Saturated Fat is Not Your Enemy
Stop calling butter and ghee names.
New studies have blown the roof off the claim that saturated fat (SF) leads to heart disease. So the new mantra is don’t ban SF, just go easy on it.
Trans Fats are Bad News
Trans fats raise your bad cholesterol and lower the good ones. Forego foods that contain hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil in their ingredient list (packaged snacks, chips, bakery goods and some margarine).
Please read labels carefully. Also cut down drastically on fried foods.
Chomp pomegranates. It is loaded with polyphenols - antioxidants that provide several heart-protecting benefits, including reducing LDL cholesterol. Crunch this juicy fruit at least thrice a week.
Stock up on vitamin C. Go for amla, citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli.
Target 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day to keep your antioxidant meter up and cholesterol numbers down.
An Apple a Day...
Everything you have heard about the apples is right; it truly is a wonder fruit.
Pectin, a form of soluble fibre found in it helps lower cholesterol and the antioxidants in it prevent bad cholesterol from oxidizing and thus help lower plaque formation.
Trade that muffin (and other carb rich snacks like cookies) with almonds.
Research shows that eating almonds significantly reduces LDL and total cholesterol number, and help reduce belly fat too.
Break the Fast
Stop blaming the egg for elevated cholesterol, it is in fact skipping breakfast that leads to higher numbers.
So that’s another big reason (besides reduced appetite, body weight and heart disease risk factors) to begin eating breakfast every day.
If tomato is not your best friend already - please remedy that right away!
Research links lycopene (that tomato is loaded with) to reduction of LDL cholesterol. It is in fact ten times more powerful than vitamin E and its benefits get enhanced when it is consumed in purees and with olive oil.
Fibre in whole grains helps cut the risk of heart disease as it binds bile acids (needed to make cholesterol) in the body and helps whisk bad cholesterol out of the body.
So, think brown rice instead of white, multi grain instead of white bread and have oats for breakfast. Barley is a great cholesterol cutter too.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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