It’s common knowledge that high cholesterol can lead to heart problems. For those suffering from the condition, here is a list of good eats for your daily diet as well as unhealthy options that should be avoided as much as possible.
No to red meat, yes to fatty fish
Mutton chop, sausages and pork fry are delicious alright but they contain saturated fat, known to be best friends with high cholesterol. “Regular consumption of these foods can increase your cholesterol level or make your existing heart disease worse,” says Neelanjana Singh, nutritionist, Heinz Foundation of India. If you enjoy your meat, make it white, and include fatty fish instead of red meat, especially the processed variety. On the other hand, eating fish twice or thrice a week can reduce cholesterol by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. According to research from California’s Loma Linda University, replacing saturated fats with omega-3s, found in salmon, sardines, and herring can raise good cholesterol by around 4 per cent.
No to ice cream, yes to all green leafy vegetables and fruits
A scoop of ice cream is full of fat and cholesterol. To satiate hunger pangs, go for a cup of fresh fruit or stir-fried veggies. Make it a mix of sweet and sour seasonal fruits to get your fill of natural sugar – combining banana with watermelon, grapes and kiwi will do the trick. “Veggies and fruits have plant sterols (found naturally in plants) that work by mimicking cholesterol and competing with it for absorption,” explains Singh. Broccoli, apple and avocados are especially beneficial for lowering cholesterol and keeping your heart healthy.
No to liver, yes to garlic
The iron-rich liver may be healthy for those with iron deficiency. But because this animal organ is the body's primary source of cholesterol and the region where the waxy cholesterol is made and stored, it’s best to avoid it. “Instead, use garlic while cooking your curries and also chop raw garlic and add to salads and soups,” suggests Singh. Intake of raw garlic (not in capsule form) prevents blood clots, reduces blood pressure and protects against infections. Studies in several peer-reviewed journals have also maintained that garlic can help in reducing the formation of artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls. “For best results, eat two to four raw garlic pods daily,” adds Singh.
No to French fries, yes to walnuts
Popular fast food culture’s favourite snack adds to cholesterol woes because of the presence of hydrogenated vegetable oils. These oils, that have high levels of trans-fats, are used in fast food to make it more stable and less prone to spoiling. “Trans-fats in any form is bad for cholesterol,” reveals Singh. For crunchy mid-day snacks, pick walnuts. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that having 40 grams of whole walnuts for six days a week for one month can reduce total cholesterol by 5.4 per cent.
No to pastries and muffins, yes to oats and barley
Crispy crusts and cream topping gives a sugar high on a bad day. These pastries and muffins, however, are bad news for cholesterol watchers, thanks to the generous presence of butter, cream, cream cheese and whole milk. Instead, opt for desserts and treats made with oats and barley – they contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan that mops up cholesterol. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors tested cholesterol-lowering drugs against cholesterol-lowering foods in a group of thirty-four adults suffering from high cholesterol. The results showed that the cholesterol-reducing diet, especially oats, worked as well as cholesterol-lowering medication.
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