Diet plays an important role in terms of determining your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is of two kinds: good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good kind of cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad kind of cholesterol. When your cholesterol is at normal levels, it is essential for the body. But high cholesterol levels can be harmful for you and puts you at risk of heart attack. A healthy lifestyle and diet can take you a long way in terms of keeping your cholesterol levels under control and maintaining your heart health. In this article, we are going to talk about the foods that can help in improving your cholesterol numbers.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. It is found in all of your body’s cells. It is also found in some of the foods you eat. Cholesterol screening is a test used to measure the amount and type of cholesterol in your blood.
We ask nutritionist Nmami Agarwal high cholesterol and its consequences on health and she says, “High cholesterol is generally caused by one or a combination of certain factors like sedentary lifestyle, a diet high in processed foods, obesity and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Smoking and alcohol consumption is also related to high cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases. It can lead to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.”
According to Nmami, following are the foods that can help in managing your cholesterol levels:
1. Garlic: one or two crushed garlic cloves if consumed on a regular basis can lower cholesterol levels significantly.
2. Oats: Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan that helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels. It is also rich in many essential nutrients.
3. Spinach: Spinach and other green leafy vegetables can bind to the bile acids and help in effectively reducing cholesterol levels. Carotenoids present in spinach also helps in lowering risk of heart diseases.
4. Walnuts: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are particularly effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
Talking about lifestyle tips to manage cholesterol, Nmami says that limiting salt intake in daily diet can help. Alcohol intake should be avoided or done while practicing moderation.”Increase soluble fibre in the diet by consuming fruits and vegetables. Having body weight more than normal is a predisposing factor for high cholesterol. So, it’s advisable to keep a check on your weight. Try to indulge in some form of physical activity for minimum 30 minutes on a daily basis. The best effective and simplest to do exercise is brisk walking,” she says.
To ensure fitness on-the-go, you can take some simple measures like taking stairs instead of escalators, park your vehicle a little far from where you usually park and then walk to cover the distance, and take a couple of minute walking break from your monotonous office sitting hours.
Cholesterol: Other foods that can help in improving your numbers
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
Fatty fish or foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in keeping your cholesterol levels under control. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce triglycerides, which is a type of fat in blood. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help in normalising blood pressure and reduce risk of blood clots. Tuna, mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, walnuts and chia seeds are examples of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil is a source of healthy fats that should be part of your diet. Replace olive oil with your vegetable oil and use it regularly as a cooking oil. Olive oil can also be added to salads. Olive oil can also be used as a substitute for butter on bread or for sauteing food.
Nuts have found to be great for heart health. Almonds from the nut family is can improve the cholesterol in your blood. As mentioned above, walnuts are omega-3 fatty acid rich nuts that can be good for keeping cholesterol levels under control. However, nuts are rich in calories and you must consume them in limited amounts to avoid unnecessary weight gain and adverse health consequences.
By now, it should be clear to you that healthy fats can in fact help in keeping your cholesterol levels under control. Research suggests that including avocado in your daily diet can be good for your heart health. It can also help in improving LDL cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese. Monounsaturated fatty acids in avocado can be credited for their cholesterol improving benefits.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.