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Heart of the matter

Try these healthy food alternatives to cut down your cholesterol intake.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 29, 2010 01:20 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Over the years, we’ve realised that excessive cholesterol in the blood stream can block the blood vessels of the heart and brain, and eventually make way for a heart attack or stroke. But unfortunately, few know just how much cholesterol is too much for the body. Eliminating a few foods and increasing the intake of a few others can minimise chances of a heart attack or stroke.

A hearty glow of health

Oat bran
This old-fashioned food is an inexpensive way to keep cholesterol in check. Oatmeal, which is high in fibre, reduces the insulin requirement in diabetics and also brings down blood cholesterol. Oat bran is a more concentrated source of fibre than whole oats.

Take a couple of tablespoons of oat bran daily, with a cup of hot or low-fat milk, or mix it with wheat flour and make chapatis. It can be had in the form of porridge, too. Oats contain practically no fat or sodium, and are heart-friendly.

Olives
Olive oil improves the lipid profile. The mono-unsaturated fats in olive oil favourably alter cholesterol levels. A study conducted in 2,300 middle-aged men from seven countries showed that the death rate from heart disease was exceptionally low in men who regularly consumed olive oil. Olive oil boosts HDL, lowers LDL, cuts down the chances of blockages and fights high cholesterol. To get maximum benefits, cut down on saturated fats like red meat and dairy products.

The lipoprotein profile
To know your daily limit of dietary cholesterol, get a fasting lipoprotein profile done. The test draws an accurate picture of how susceptible you are to heart disease. (Look at the table to see where you stand.)

The right food
A healthy person must restrict his cholesterol intake to 300 mg, and someone with a heart ailment must restrict it to between 100-200 mg. Restrict the total fat intake to 20 per cent of your total daily calorie intake. The table will help you decide which foods to avoid to have a healthy cholesterol. Take to heart these dietary guidelines and you will find yourself winning the battle against cholesterol and heart disease.