What foods can help me control my cholesterol levels and maintain heart health?
Just a few simple tweaks to your daily diet can help you get your cholesterol levels under control:
1. Olive oil: Switch to olive oil for cooking. Research has shown that the Mediterranean people consume olive oil and have very low incidence of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Olive oil contains a mix of various anti-oxidants which lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). Use it for your tadka or add it as a dressing to salads. Extra virgin olive oils are even more beneficial as they are less-processed and retain more anti-oxidants than the other varieties.
2. Nuts: Walnuts and almonds are rich in omega three fatty acids and PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acids) which help reduce LDL cholesterol and keep the blood vessels healthy. A handful of these nuts (unsalted, unfried) should help.
3. Oats: Being high in soluble fibre, oats reduce the absorption of cholesterol (Total & LDL) in your blood. Eating 1 ½ cups of cooked oats with milk and bananas or apples gives you your daily requirement of soluble fibre.
4. Fish: High in omega 3 fatty acids, it helps increase the levels of the good (or HDL) cholesterol.
It is recommended that you have atleast two servings of Salmon (rawas fish), herring (bhing) or mackerel (bangda) per week. For restricting calories, they are best eaten grilled, shallow fried with very little oil or baked.
If you do not eat fish or do not have access to good fish, add ground flax seeds (alsi), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (til), soyabean oil, canola oil to your diet. Omega 3 fatty acid supplements are also available.
5. Garlic: Though the cholesterol lowering effects of garlic has been debated in recent times, it has been shown that allicin in the garlic does help.
The Expert’s Thought: Just like the fat you have in your body, cholesterol is also a fat/ lipid that is produced in the liver and its normal levels are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.