- If you have begun regularly visiting doctors or hospitals due to a faulty lifestyle, then you are not alone. Going to the gym regularly, taking stairs or doing few yogasanas during the day helps address the problems created by a sedentary lifestyle that most of us are slaves to today. However, just regular exercise may not be helpful if you are a die-hard fan of burgers, fries and shakes. Not only will it be contrary to your fitness goals, but it will also put you at risk of high cholesterol levels in the blood and other serious heart problems. If you have a family history of heart problems or already have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, following is a list of healthy food options that will help you bring down these levels naturally:
- Lentils and beans: Lentils are fibre- and protein-rich foods that keep you full for longer and take a while to digest, making them a super-healthy addition to your meals. A weight-loss–friendly food, lentils are rich in soluble fibre, which literally traps and clears out the cholesterol from the body. Kidney beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans and other varieties of beans help achieve the goal of lowering cholesterol levels just as well as lentils do. Have a bowl of lentil soup, toss some beans in your salad or salsa mix, or enjoy a bowl of hummus to fire up the cholesterol-fighting properties of your food.
- Fish: Instead of consuming meat products that have saturated fats and are low-density lipoprotein (LDL)–boosting, incorporate fatty fish as a meat alternative in your diet at least two to three times a week. This will provide you with essential omega-3 fats that help cut down LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids also protect your heart from abnormal heart rhythms. Fatty fish include salmon, trout, mackerel and herring. Needless to mention, the proteins that these fishes bring to the plate are an added bonus.
- Oats: According to nutrition guidelines, you should be eating about 5 to 10 grams of soluble fibre per day. Oats provide a generous amount of soluble fibre that helps cut down the cholesterol levels in your body. Make yourself a hearty bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries for breakfast. The fruits will add up to your daily fibre intake as well. You can also combine oats with granola and a scoop of Greek yoghurt to make a delectable quick snack.
- Vegetable oils: Instead of greasing your cooking pan or cake pan with a stick of butter or shortening, use vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil. They help reduce LDL levels. Olive oil or canola oil are good options too as they have unsaturated fats that lower LDL cholesterol. If you opt for olive oil, choose the extra virgin variety as it is less processed and has more antioxidants.
- Nuts: Nuts are the tiny but oh so mighty foods that are super healthy for your heart. Eating about 57 grams of almonds, peanuts, walnuts or other nuts per day can help lower LDL cholesterol levels steadily but surely. To make sure you have your share of nuts per day, keep a jar of nuts on a table at your main door. Grab them along with your keys as you head out for the day. Alternatively, you can stock your office drawer with these munchies for the mid-meal hunger pangs. Being high on fibre and protein, they keep you fuller for extended periods of time, reducing your craving for the odd snacks as well.
- Fruits: Pectin-rich fruits like apples, peaches, bananas, oranges and pears help lower cholesterol levels. Pectin is a natural fibre that binds with LDL cholesterol and eliminates it from the body. A medium-sized pear can give you about 16% of your daily fibre content. Give the fruits a good rinse before you eat them but do not peel them, as the peels are rich in fibre. Have a fruit salad with some chia or flax seeds or make a healthy smoothie with greens for your evening snack.
- Soy: Soy is an excellent protein option not just for lactose-intolerant people but also for people with high cholesterol levels. Consuming about 25 grams of soy proteins per day, which comes from one and a half cup of soymilk, can bring down your LDL cholesterol by about 5% to 6%. Make a soymilk milkshake with fresh fruits or have stir-fried tofu to get that soy in your diet.
- As Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine rightly said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Let these healthy foods be your medicine to get rid of high cholesterol levels. Create new and exciting recipes with these foods or find a dietician or a nutritionist near you from the HealthAssure app to get custom-made meal plans for your health.
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