Sunday, January 24, 2016

5 Ways to Eat and Yet be Able to Lower Your Cholesterol (What Indian foods to eat to Lower Cholesterol levels?)

What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

"You are what you eat"-you probably have heard your doctor tell you this umpteen number of times. Well, it is true. Sadly, today we 'eat what our taste buds like' rather than 'eat what the body needs'. This results in a number of lifestyle diseases like obesity, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, hypertension or strokes. 
Hyperlipidaemia or elevated lipid (fat) levels which was seen more in people over the age of 40, is now commonly seen in younger age groups and even some obese kids in the urban areas. This is something that can be easily prevented and/or reversed by eating a healthy balanced diet and plenty of physical activity.
What foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? This is one of  the two questions that I am asked the most (the other being  "What to eat to reduce weight?") by those whose cholesterol levels are higher than normal. Most people that I have counselled have been able to reduce their cholesterol levels by just eating the right foods and choosing to do some kind of exercise on a regular basis. Here are 4 simple tips to follow if you want to lower your cholesterol through your diet:
What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

1)Eat your sabzi and phal (veggies and fruit): Your mom was right-all those years of nagging you to eat your vegetables and fruits and see what happens when you stop? That's right-all the bhindi (okra), beans(green beans), gobi(cabbage), phool gobi (cauliflower),kaddu (pumpkin),karela(bitter gourd) basically all veggies are good for you so long as you don't overcook them or drown them in oil. 
Why?Fruits and vegetables both contain loads of vitamins, minerals, are low in calories and have the most important nutrient for reducing cholesterol- fibre. Soluble fibre has long been known to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, among other benefits. So make sure you eat a variety of vegetables that are in season.
How much to eat? At least one cup of sabzi (cooked veggies) and a salad at every meal and two fruits(not juice) a day. 
2)Switch to whole grains: If you've been eating white rice, white bread, maida(refined flour), instant oats then it's time to switch over to brown/red rice or parboiled rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, dalia (broken wheat), regular/rolled or steel cut oats and whole wheat pasta. Try including new whole grains like , barley, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), ragi/nachni (a staple in the Southern states like Karnataka, AP). 
Why? Researchers have noticed a significantly lower risk of chronic heart disease (CHD) in those who consume whole grains on a regular basis. Again whole grains contain nutrients like minerals, antioxidants, lignans other phytochemicals and fibre that are lost when they are refined or processed by humans to increase the shelf life or to cook faster. In the process of saving time and money we end up with a product which has very few nutrients. Moreover the fibre in whole grains tends to fill you up and you end up eating less foods which means you get fewer calories.
How much to eat? Controlling portion sizes as suggested by your dietitian is very important.You'll soon realize that you not only eat less, but also don't feel hungry because of the fibre, which is actually a good thing. 
3)Limit bad fats: Unhealthy or bad fats like butter, ghee, vanaspati(trans-fat) and full fat milk and milk products need to be avoided or taken in restricted amounts. Switch to cold pressed oils which are made without chemicals or heat whenever possible. These include extra virgin olive, peanut, sunflower, sesame oils that are cold pressed. The second choice would be olive, canola, sesame, sunflower, peanut oil for cooking and canola oil for baking.
Why? The bad fats can increase your cholesterol and over a period of time clog your arteries. Good fats like omega 3's on the other hand can do the opposite and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How much to eat? Just enough. Though they may be termed as good fats, they still have the same calories as the bad fat. That means if your food is swimming in 'good oil' it still can't be good for your body.
4)Include Omega 3 rich foods: There are two varieties of Omega 3: seafood that provide EPA (Eicosapentoenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and plant based foods that provide ALA (Alphalinolenic acid) .Oily fish like sardines (Tarle in Marathi, Kavala in Telugu, Mathi in Malayalam), Mackerel (Bangade in Kannada, Marathi, Aiyla in Malayalam), Salmon, tuna, anchovies(Bolenjaru in Kannada/Tulu, Natholi in Malayalam) are rich in EPA.  Vegetarians can choose from plant based APA rich foods like flaxseeds (Alsi in hindi/marathi, agase beeja in Kannada), walnuts (akharot in hindi), canola and soy oil, soybeans, soy nuggets, soy milk and tofu. Green leafy vegetables and omega 3 eggs (eggs from chickens fed a omega rich diet) also contain smaller amounts of omega 3.
Why? EPA and DHA have shown to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure and plaque buildup. In addition they could also reduce inflammation, the risk of strokes and certain cancers. ALA on the other hand needs to be converted to EPA and DHA in the body and researchers believe that this reduces the amount of omega 3 that is available. 
How much to eat? Include oily fish in your diet at least twice a week but make sure that you don't deep fry them. Fish curries, steamed fish or even grilled/baked fish will give you the most health benefits. Fish oil capsules are a great alternative for people who may not be able to eat fish on a regular basis. The vegetarian sources can be included on a daily basis.
5)Eat to live: You don't have to change your diet completely. Include foods that are good for you and remove foods that you know are unhealthy.  Get a dietitian to plan a diet keeping your likes and dislikes in mind. Your chances of sticking to a diet that is planned for you is much more than one that your neighbour is following!
Why? Because years of regularly eating the unhealthy foods are showing in your health reports and it's a signal to change.
How much to eat? Everything in moderation is the mantra. Too much of even the good foods can be bad sometimes-so try not to go overboard and stick to portion sizes.

For help in custom planning an Indian diet for lowering cholesterol-check out my 'Healthy Heart Packages: Heart Healthy Diet Plans

What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

No comments: