Lower your cholesterol naturally with these 7 foods

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What is cholesterol?

It is a waxy substance essential for building cells, and producing vitamins and hormones. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from cells - low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol).

How does the body get cholesterol?

Cholesterol comes from two sources a) our liver makes all the cholesterol needed by the body. b) the remainder comes from the meat, poultry, dairy products and fried foods we consume. While cholesterol is essential, too much of it can be bad.

Why does it have to be lowered?

High LDL (bad) cholesterol or low HDL (good) cholesterol, combined with high triglycerides causes fatty deposits within the blood vessels. This restricts proper flow of blood through the arteries, increasing the risk of heart diseases.

Which foods increase the bad cholesterol level?

Usually foods of animal origin such as meat, dairy products, egg yolks contain dietary cholesterol and should be limited. Fried food, fast food, and processed meat (e.g. bacon, sausages) are also known to elevate cholesterol levels in the body.

Which foods can help in managing cholesterol?

Plant-based foods which include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, soy products, and foods rich in poly and mono-unsaturated fats reduce the level of ‘bad cholesterol’ and support a healthy heart.

Veggies like ladies finger and brinjal

Vegetables like ladies finger and brinjal contain high amount of soluble fiber called pectin, which is said to reduce bad cholesterol levels and are also good for lowering blood pressure. Both of which reduce the risk of heart diseases.

Fibre-rich whole grains

Whole wheat, brown rice and unpolished millets contain all three parts of the grain – bran, germ, and endosperm and are high in fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They minimize the risk of heart diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and support healthy digestion.

Omega 3 fatty acids-rich fish

Fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are rich sourced of omega 3 fatty acids. They lower the risk of heart attack by protecting the heart from inflammation and blood clots. They are best if consumed at least twice a week.

Fibre-rich lentils & pulses

Lentils, more commonly known as dal in India, are legumes that come in different types – green, red, yellow, brown, and even black. They are loaded with potassium, folic acid, and fibre, all of which lower bad cholesterol levels and support heart health.

Nuts, a protein and healthy fats-storehouse

Almost all nuts, including almonds and walnuts, are exceptionally nutritious and are high in monounsaturated fats which supports heart health. Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium, fibre, and protein.

Antioxidant-rich grapes and berries

The polyphenols present in grapes can help fight diabetes, heart diseases, and osteoporosis. Grapes are also considered as good food for eyes due to its ability to protect the retina. Like grapes, berries too lower bad cholesterol and boost heart health.

Oils with mono and poly-unsaturated fats

Oils that are rich in mono (e.g. olive oil, sesame oil) and poly-unsaturated (e.g. sunflower oil) fats lower bad cholesterol and prevent clogged arteries. Linoleic acid present in sunflower oil is also known to boost the immune system and improve hair health.

Where can I find more such health insights?