Day-to-day life of a common man in the present conditions of the society is full of stress and strain due to a number of reasons, which are somehow unavoidable. This leads to various health problems. Different lifestyles, job demands or peculiar personal habits create adverse affects on health. All this contributes to rise in cholesterol levels, which in turn leads to heart ailments. Cholesterol is of two types – bad cholesterol (LDL), i.e. low density lipoprotein, and good cholesterol (HDL) high density lipoprotein.
Bad cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries and makes them hard and narrow. These deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through arteries. Heart may not get sufficient oxygen needs, for good flow of blood, hence increases the risk of heart attack. Proper precaution and treatment is necessary in such cases. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is known as good cholesterol, which picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver. No specific symptoms are visible to indicate high cholesterol. It can be detected only by periodical blood tests.
Now let us know how to prevent or reduce cholesterol if detected high, by making little changes in your food habits
■ To bring a good change in your cholesterol level, start your day with oats. Oats contain a substance called beta- glucan. This absorbs bad cholesterol. With regular consumption of oats you will find considerable change in cholesterol levels.
■ Various nutrients are found in whole grains that promote heart health. Whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour and brown rice are best options.
■ Nuts and seeds contain mono-unsaturated fats. Nuts are the best to get those required fats into your body. So have them without any guilty feeling. The fats that come from nuts are natural and are not chemically processed. They make heart healthy and nutritious.
■ Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber. Snack on seasonal fruits which can lower cholesterol and include vegetables in your diet, stir fried or as soups which can also help lowering cholesterol. Especially spinach contains about 13 flavonoid compounds which keeps you away from heart diseases as well as cancer etc.
■ Add beans to your diet as they help in lowering cholesterol levels. Black beans or kidney beans supply about one third of your daily fiber needs.
■ Drinking tea is helpful against LDL cholesterol levels. It has anti-oxidants and less amount of caffeine as compared to coffee. Tea helps in protecting your bones as it contains phyto-chemicals.
■ Olive oil contains mono unsaturated fatty acids which lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, without lowering good cholesterol levels.
■ Enjoy dark chocolates as they are full of anti-oxidants and cholesterol reducing properties. Dark chocolates can help prevent the blood vessels in the liver from rupturing. But do not overeat.
■ Quit smoking if you are in the habit of smoking. Quitting can improve your LDL cholesterol level. Not only this your blood pressure will decrease and your risk of heart attack will decrease within few days. Gradually your risk of heart disease will decrease similar to that of someone who never smoked.
■ A strict no to alcohol as it may increase the levels of your HDL cholesterol. If you still choose to drink, do so in moderation, not more than one drink a day.
■ Regular exercise can help improve your cholesterol levels.
Adopt the following heart healthy eating habits
■ Give enough time to focus on food and you will be more likely to eat the right amount for you. Eat slowly and relish every bite of your food.
■ No multi tasking. Enjoy eating your food and do not answer phone calls or emails. Even watching Television is not advisable.
■ Don’t take large meals. Take small meals at regular intervals. This will keep your energy levels up and help maintain healthy weight.
■ Try to have smaller meals in the evening. Studies show that the incidence of heart attacks is highest during the late evening or early morning and may co relate to having a large meal in the evening.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna