Even though high cholesterol levels are a major cause for worry, people do not think about heart diseases till middle age. But now, young adults also need to watch out, as high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol are likely to lead to heart problems later in life. Though we cannot change our genes — we can change our diet.
Food significantly affects the cholesterol levels. Following are top 3 foods with benefits against cholesterol:
This food claims to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. An intake of 40 grams of oat bran or 60 grams of oatmeal a day can bring about a five per cent reduction on serum cholesterol. Ground oatmeal can be added to soup and oat bran, to wheat flour.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel help to reduce triglyceride, blood pressure and risk of blood clots. Have two servings of oily fish per week. Bake or grill the fish to avoid fats. If you do not eat fish, get the omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed or canola oil.
Consuming 25 grams of soybean helps reduce total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride with a small increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. It also helps lower insulin levels, normalise blood sugar and prevents weight gain.In addition to dietary modification, it is important to bring about lifestyle changes to keep cholesterol levels under check.
This stimulates enzymes in the muscle and liver, which convert cholesterol to other forms like HDL. It helps to strengthen the heart, bones and other muscles. Walking three times a week for one hour or six times a week for half an hour is advised.
Smoking is linked to many types of cancer and heart diseases. It leads to an increase in bad cholesterol, which gets deposited on the walls of the arteries. This build-up blocks the blood flow and is the main culprit of heart diseases.
This is not only important for lowering cholesterol, but also improves overall health. Eat five to six small meals a day. Switch to whole grains — whole wheat bread, brown rice and reduce refined carbs such as sugar and white flour.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre