Greasy fries, tall burgers, yummy cookies have become an inevitable part of urban living. No matter how you try to steer clear of them, they somehow manage to get the better of you. Let us tell you a secret. It is okay to let loose at times, indulge and enjoy. It is only when these temptations start going out of control that problems arise. One of the most common conditions faced by people of this generation is that of their high 'cholesterol' levels. So much so, that many people view cholesterol as an entity, that is sitting in your system to take your heart-health for a ride. That is not true. Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and has important natural functions in stimulating various activities in the body that include digesting foods, producing hormones and others.
There are two types of cholesterol:
1. HDL or Good Cholesterol: HDL or High density lipoproteins are classified as good cholesterol and are very essential for smooth functioning of the body. High-density lipoproteins are one of the five major groups of lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are a class complex particles composed of multiple proteins. HDL Cholesterol transports all the wastes and toxins backs to the liver.
2. LDL or Bad Cholesterol: LDL or Low-density lipoprotein are one of the five major groups of lipoproteins which transport all fat molecules throughout your body. It is the excess of this class of cholesterol that may cause a host of health disorders particularly that of heart. Bad cholesterol forms a layer of plaque on the walls of arteries, which makes it difficult for the blood to flow in its natural pace, which further contributes to high blood pressure and in worse cases, even a stroke .(Also Read:9 Effective Ways to Lower Bad Cholesterol and Boost Good Cholesterol)
Causes And Effects Of High Cholesterol
According to various studies, high cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, which is a condition where the arteries harden due to a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls. These deposits can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause clots or rupture, in which case it can also lead to a stroke.
1. Poor diet: One of the primary reasons of high cholesterol is a poor diet. Eating saturated fats, found in animal products, and trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels. A High cholesterol diet is most likely to have all of these.
2. Obesity: Obesity could also trigger a spike in bad cholesterol levels. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
3. Lack of exercise: Lack of physical activity and a sedentry lifestyle can also contribute to high cholesterol levels.
4. Smoking: If you have high cholesterol and are an occasional smoker, here's a reason to drop the butt now. Cigarette smoking damage the blood vessels, making them accumulate fatty deposits which can result in a spike.
5. Diabetes: High blood sugar can damage the lining of your arteries which can give way for the LDL cholesterol to make their fatty deposits.
High Cholesterol Diet: What Must A Person Suffering From High Cholesterol Ensure?
A person with high levels of cholesterol has to ensure and control a lot of factors, from their diet to a healthy body weight. Eating a low-salt diet is a must. Switching from the saturated fats found in animal products to the good fats has also proven beneficial for those dealing with high cholesterol. According to consultant nutritionist Dr. Rupali, "People with cholesterol should try to maintain their body weight and should have a healthy mix of fats and fibers ( both soluble and insoluble). They must include foods such as nuts, almonds, walnuts meat and meat products as these foods help control the cholesterol"
Bangalore-based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood talks about ensuring a balance in the diet, "There are 3 main macronutrients on which our body thrives: Carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There are two types of carbohydrates i.e simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. A person with cholesterol should try to bring down the simple carbohydrates and should increase the amount of complex carbohydrates. They should definitely avoid foods rich in trans fats."
According to Nutritionist and Wellness Expert Sonia Narang, "It is important to look after your diet and eat healthy. Avoid saturated fats like oil, ghee and hard margarine. Avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils as they go through a lot of processing. You will find these fats in cookies, chips and other packaged snacks. Try to have less fatty meat and meat products like sausages and bacon." You should also avoid too much alcohol as it raises your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
In addition to diet, one also has to ensure that he or she leads an active lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyle is linked with a variety of health problems like obesity and diabetes. Daily exercise is one of the best and natural ways to boost your HDL and lower your bad cholesterol.
Moderation and balance are key to not just healthy cholesterol but healthy life in general. Eating nutrient dense and balanced food that fights inflammation is just one of them. Here are some good and bad cholesterol foods that you must include/rule out from your diet wisely.
Good Cholesterol Foods:
1. Beans and PulsesBeans, lentils and various other kinds of pulses can significantly bring down the bad cholesterol levels. According to an old study, eating one serving a day of pulses, people can lower LDL ('bad') cholesterol by five percent. The low glycemic index of the pulses help keep the LDL cholesterol levels in check. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs with low GI value (55 or less) are digested, absorbed and metabolised slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood glucose. Carbohydrates with a GI higher than 70 cause marked fluctuations in the blood glucose levels. You can have them in sprouts, soups, stews or curries but make sure they are part of your daily intake.(Also Read: 6 Benefits of Sprouting and the Right Way to Do it)
2. NutsThe chunky goodness of nuts like walnuts, almond and pistachios have long been associated with bringing down bad cholesterol. These nuts have a low glycemic index, are naturally cholesterol free, and are source of protein, fiber and antioxidants, which makes them the best bet for good heart health too.
3. Olive OilThe Mediterranean wonder has taken the health circuit by a storm and for a good reason. Heart-healthy and abundantly loaded with good fats, extra virgin olive oil can tackle the spike in bad cholesterol levels. You can use the olive oil to spruce up your salads, sauces and soups.(Also Read: Olive Oil: Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil for Health, Hair, Skin & Its Wonderful Uses)
4. Whole grains Ditch refined carbs and go for whole grain foods. Wheat bran, cereals, and brown rice are low in glycemic index and packed with heart-healthy fiber.
5. Fatty fish
Load up on fatty fish like mackerel, tuna, sardine and salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids present in these fatty fish can help keep cholesterol levels in check.(Also Read: 9 Incredible Benefits of Salmon Fish You May Not Have Known)
6. High-Fiber Fruits
High-Fiber fruits like dates, prunes, apples and pears can boost your HDL levels and lower your LDL levels. Mostly, all the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables have low glycemic index too.
Avocados can do wonders for your lipid profiling and keeping your cholesterol levels in control. A source of good fat, avocado can easily be swapped for all your fat-laden foods.
High Cholesterol Foods To Avoid:
1. Packaged Chips, Burgers and Other Transfats: High in salt and cooked in refined oil, these trans-fat foods can wreak havoc on your lipid profile. These fats get accumulated and clog your arteries, which restricts the blood flow.
2. Sugary cookies and goods: If salt is bad, then too much sugar does no good either. These cookies, crackers are packed with refined carbohydrates. These sugary foods cause immediate spike in blood levels and upset the blood sugar levels too.
3. Alcohol: Moderate drinking is okay, but according to various studies, excessive drinking can raise both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Which is why people with high blood pressure should be extra weary of the number of glasses and pints of alcohol they take.
4. Red meat and bacon: Animal meat like mutton, lamb and pork is loaded with saturated fats which may up your cholesterol levels. Even if you are cooking the meat, make sure they are cooked in vegetable oil or are baked.
5. Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbs are the main culprit behind a host of problems such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol. White breads, pasta, tortillas, and bagels are the most popular sources of refined carbohydrates which have been taking a toll on the overall cholesterol levels of millions across the world. Refined carbohydrates are said to have high glycemic index which significantly raises the LDL Cholesterol while having no impact on the good cholesterol
5 Healthy Recipes For People With High Cholesterol
Packed with the goodness of kidney beans, cottage cheese and julienned vegetables, this healthy and delightful salad tossed together with olive oil is the perfect way to beat cholesterol, blood pressure and those extra pounds!
2. Salmon Fillet With Vegetables Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, abundant source of protein, potassium and selenium- Salmon is one healthy superfood that should be a must-have in your diet. This light and lovely recipe made with tender fish fillets teamed with goodness of herbs makes for a filling dinner option.
Moong dal chila could prove to be one of the healthiest start to you day. Easy-to-prepare and made with the goodness of heart-friendly moong dal, this Indian pancake dish is one satiating dish you would never get enough of.
The nutrient-dense smoothie made with weight-loss friendly and heart-healthy apples and chia seeds is a health freak's dream come true. You can have it for breakfast. The lush smoothie can also serve as an ideal evening snack.
The eclectic Mexican dip is so easy-to-make and double up as a deliciously healthy treat too! The pungent delight made of fresh avocados, tomatoes, green chillies, onions and lime is a treat to for the soul.
There is a lot you can do on an individual level and ensure your cholesterol levels are in check. These simple ways could get you started on a way to healthier life.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.