- Cholesterol problems are highly prevalent in South Asia due to genetic factors, dietary habits, and lack of physical activity. In India, our lives pretty much revolve around our meals. If we are told to keep all thought processes aside and define cholesterol, most of us might define it as a substance that forces us to starve and drains all the joy of eating from our life. Are you too one of those for whom food is not just food, it’s an emotion? Is your cholesterol level rising every time you test it? What if this is a myth and you can reduce your cholesterol levels without really compromising on your love for food? What if all you need is better management skills, and you can enjoy your food without affecting your health?
- If so, you are in the right place because we will not discuss restrictions. Instead, we will learn about exercising the freedom to eat. Here are some wise hacks so that you can eat to your heart’s content without worsening your cholesterol:
- Eat good cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are the two types of cholesterol, of which LDL is the bad cholesterol, and HDL is the good one. So you don’t need to stop eating foods with cholesterol, you just need to replace the wrong one with the right one. Example: You can replace palm and coconut oil with vegetable oils like sunflower, olive, or corn oil.
- Eat good fats: Saturated fats and trans-fats are the bad guys, while unsaturated fats are the good guys. Saturated fats are present in dairy products, red meats, chocolates, and deep-fried foods. Trans-fats are present in margarine and fries. Replace all these unhealthy fats with healthy unsaturated fats like oily fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. You can also lower the fat level in your diet by methods like microwaving, steaming, boiling, or grilling to cook food instead of deep frying.
- Eat colourful: Fruits and veggies have plenty of constituents that can lower your cholesterol. These ingredients include fibres and cholesterol-blocking molecules like sterols and stanols. Colourful foods like carrot, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and plums improve heart health by reducing cholesterol levels in the blood. Make sure to include all colours of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Make your food healthy, yummy and visually more appealing!
- Eat fish: You can get high level of omega-3-fatty acids from fish. These acids do not play a role in lowering LDL but increase your HDL levels instead. You can eat fish like the tuna, salmon, and mackerel twice a week.
- Eat nuts, seeds, legumes and cereals: It has been proved that plant sterols and stanols can lower increased blood cholesterol levels. Nuts, seeds, legumes and cereals are found to contain high amounts of these sterols and stanols. Eating 2-3 grams of plant sterols and stanols every day (which you can get from about 20-30 grams of these foods) can help you burn the excess cholesterol.
- Read the label before eating: If you eat ready-to-eat food products, take a few minutes before buying them and scrutinise the labels of the food to avoid eating unhealthy food that increases your health risks. Look for the amount of sugar and sodium (salt) content, trans-fats and hydrogenated oil content in them. If any of these form more than 20% of the calories of the food, it’s probably best to ditch that item back on the supermarket shelf.
Continue eating but don’t forget to burn
- It is tough to have control over eating, so along with following the above-listed simple diet plan, make sure you increase your physical activity. Get into activities like running, cycling, and dancing that help you lose excess weight and maintain a healthy life. Perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercises every day for at least 30 minutes. Follow a sport you love, not from the couch, but outdoors.
- Replacing unhealthy food with healthy and equally tasty food can help you achieve the goal of a healthy life without the need to compromise on taste and appetite. Click on Health Assure and visit our primary healthcare centre near you to lose excess cholesterol without compromising on your love for food. Consult our nutrition and diet experts to chalk out a meal plan that suits your tastes and lifestyle to control your blood cholesterol.
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