Cholesterol in your diet mostly comes from animal products like meat and eggs. To understand how it affects your body, you should first learn more about cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the cells of the body. Our body does require some amount of cholesterol to produce hormones, Vitamin D and even some digestive enzymes. While it makes all the cholesterol it needs some amount of it is also ingested from the food we eat.
Cholesterol travels through your body through lipo-protein. These are small cells made with fat (lipo) on the outside and protein on the inside. Lipo-proteins can be of two types – high density and low density. LDL or low density cholesterol is known as the ‘bad cholesterol’ as high levels of LDL can lead to a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries. On the other hand, HDL is called the ‘good cholesterol’ because it transports cholesterol from the other parts to the liver that removes it from the body.
High cholesterol is a condition when there is too much cholesterol in the blood. There aren’t any specific signs or symptoms of this condition but people with high cholesterol are more prone to heart disease and stroke. High levels of LDL may also put you at the risk of Coronary Heart Disease which is a condition where too much plaque builds up in your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, fat and some other substances found in the blood. It narrows the arteries and limits the flow of oxygen to the heart. If the flow of oxygen to the heart muscles reduces or is blocked it can lead to a heart attack.
Now, some good news. You can avoid being in this situation by keeping an eye on what you eat. It’s easy; there are certain foods that help in lowering bad cholesterol. Most of these cholesterol-lowering foods are delicious and can be easily added to your everyday meals.
According to Dr.Rupali Datta, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at SmartCooky, “Foods rich in fiber, monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. Fiber has a positive effect on lowering cholesterol because of the three important functions it performs. It bulks up your food and helps in controlling your appetite. Secondly, it decreased the absorption efficiency of cholesterol and thirdly, it increases the secretion of bile acids.”
She adds, “In order to keep your cholesterol in check, half of the cereals in your daily meals should be whole grains. Non-vegetarians should have fish thrice a week as they’re rich in Omega-3, especially salmon.” Here are five cholesterol lowering foods that can help.
1. Chia Seeds
Dr. Rupali suggests that you should have a fistful of nuts and seeds about 30 grams every day to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Besides being full of fiber, chia seeds are rich in protein and calcium. All of these good nutrients come at the cost of very few calories. It’s good to roast them a bit and munch on them plain. You can even add to yogurt and cereals or blend them in smoothies.
Wheat bran is high on insoluble fibre that helps in keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Plus, eating fiber-rich foods keeps you full for longer which means that you will eat less of the unhealthy foods that raise your cholesterol. Wheat bran is the hard, outer layer of the wheat grain. You can add wheat bran to you breakfast cereal or pancakes. You can even add it to soups and stews.
3. Methi Dana
Methi dana or fenugreek seeds help in reducing the production of cholesterol in the body. It is also known to decrease the absorption of triglycerides from fatty foods. Fenugreek is also packed with soluble and insoluble fiber. Studies have shown that fiber helps in blocking the absorption of cholesterol.
Get cracking! Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids – one of the natural health wonders. The good fats lower your bad cholesterol and at the same time raise the levels of good cholesterol. Almonds and cashews are also good. However, while nuts are good for the heart they are also high in calories. Practice portion control, about a handful of nuts every day is good enough.
Adding oats to your morning meals is a great way to maintain your cholesterol levels throughout the day. The key to this is that oats are rich in beta-glucan that tends to absorb the bad cholesterol which your body can excrete then.
6. Olive Oil
CommentsOlive oil is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) which are known to lower your bad cholesterol, naturally. Use it as a dressing in salads, to grill chicken or roast your veggies.
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