High cholesterol is one of the primary cause of all problems related to the heart and blood vessels. It is important for you to know that cholesterol is broadly of two types: Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol which predisposes you to various heart diseases. High density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol which protects your heart.
When your LDL level in your blood increases and HDL becomes low, you become prone to heart diseases like attacks, strokes etc. Proper diet and regular exercise can help to maintain the normal cholesterol levels and may even help you avoid taking any medication. Certain foods that are particularly useful in controlling your cholesterol levels are shared here.
Foods That Control Cholesterol
Olive oil is rich in mono-saturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Studies have shown that foods with high monounsaturated fatty acids lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.You can add one or two tablespoons of olive oil to your salads or you use it for cooking. You can also add olives to your salads, sandwiches or pizzas. Margarine made from olive oil is also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Pulses And Legumes
They do not contain any cholesterol and have a high dietary fiber content which lowers cholesterol and energy intake. They are also rich in protective nutrients that protect the heart.Legumes are naturally low in fat with a low glycaemic index (GI). Ideally you must eat legumes at least three to four times a week. They include beans, peas, lentils and all soya products whether cooked or canned soya beans, soya mince, cubes, milk or tofu.
High Fiber Diet
High fiber diet includes whole grains and cereals and foods processed from unprocessed flour. They are rich in vitamin B, minerals and dietary fiber ( both soluble and insoluble ) but low in fat and cholesterol. Eating a bowl of raw oats or muesli everyday will keep your cholesterol in check. Oats contain soluble fiber that reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Fish And Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce the levels of triglycerides (a blood fat) and slow down the growth of plaque in artery walls. Omega-3 have been shown to reduce blood fats, atherosclerosis, atherosclerotic plaques and blood pressure. It has been seen that people who consume fish three or times a week are less prone to heart diseases and blood pressure problems. Fishes with high omega-3 are salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardine. Omega-3 is also found in canola oil, flaxseed and some food products specifically enriched with omega-3.
Fat-Free Dairy Products
Full cream dairy products have a high content of saturated fat which must strictly be avoided if you already have high cholesterol. However, these foods contain calcium which is essential for the healthy functioning of the heart and other body parts. So you must incorporate fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese in your diet. Fat-free yoghurt is especially beneficial as it contains lactobacillus microorganisms that help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Anti-Oxidant Fruits And Vegetables
You must everyday consume raw fruits and vegetables as they help in lowering blood cholesterol level and protect your heart. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene are especially beneficial. Pomegranate juice is one the most beneficial for your heart as it contains a high level of anti-oxidants.
Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, grapes and lemons; all berry fruits like cranberry, strawberry and blackberry; guavas, mangoes, all kinds of cabbages, broccolis, brussels, sprouts and pepper.
Beta-carotene rich fruits and vegetables include dark yellow fruits like apricots, yellow peaches, spanspek and mangoes; dark yellow vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots and butternuts; all dark green vegetables like spinach, cabbage and broccolis.
Snacking on dried apricots and almonds is a tasty way to stop bad cholesterol from oxidizing and building up on artery walls.In addition to almonds, eating other nuts like walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and peanuts help to reduce the risk of heart disease as they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Studies have shown that members of the onion family such as garlic, spring onions can be used to lower cholesterol and protect the heart. Use garlic liberally in cooking and in fresh salads.
Avoid junk food and processed food. Avoid red meat like mutton, beef and pork. Choose grilled food over fried ones. Avoid high fat food and deep fried food. These foods are rich in transfats and increase bad cholesterol.