An excess of cholesterol in the blood can be a sign of future heart problems. In our bodies, there are two types of cholesterol: HDL (or good cholesterol) and LDL (or bad cholesterol). LDL is the main culprit of heart problems, as it accumulates in the coronary arteries, causing blockage, whereas the good cholesterol helps to negate the impact of the bad. Simply, the key to keeping your heart and body healthy is keeping LDL below 180 mg/DL of blood, and maintaining good cholesterol up to 35 mg/DL of blood.
Although all human beings have the capacity to produce cholesterol in their liver, it is the extra cholesterol that goes into our body via food that disturbs the natural balance.
Here are few things that you can achieve to maintain your cholesterol level:
- Avoid Eating Fast Food or Junk Food – These foods have higher trans fat content than normal home-cooked meals, so eating them on regular basis means higher fat consumption. Moreover, these foods are high in calories. The human body has the capacity to transform excess calories into fat, and fat into cholesterol. Thus, controlling cholesterol levels not only means avoiding fat, but also controlling calorie intake.
- Use Double Toned Milk – Full cream milk has a higher fat content and more calories, so make a habit of drinking toned milk instead. Even products made out of full cream milk, such as ice cream, paneer, curd, and milkshakes are just as bad. If you want to enjoy these products, use double toned milk to prepare them at home.
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables – Green vegetables and fruits have more soluble fiber. Eating fiber has two advantages: they contain zero fats and they make you feel full, so you end up eating less and consuming less calories. Plant fiber also helps control cholesterol levels.
- Carefully Choose Your Cooking Oil – Eating a balanced diet permits you to have 30% fat, but the source of this fat is very important. Fat can be saturated, monosaturated, or polysaturated. Eating saturated fat increases LDL, whereas eating unsaturated fat promotes HDL. While you can use monosaturated and polysaturated fats, which are found in sunflower oil, soybean oil, and rice bran oil, you should avoid vanaspati, desi, ghee, and coconut oil, as they contain saturated fat. It is better to steam, bake, or grill food than frying it in oil.
- Include Onions, Garlic, and Ginger in Your Cooking – The daily use of onions, ginger, and garlic in cooking have been found effective to control bad cholesterol.
- Avoid Eating Sweets – Cakes, pastries, chocolates, and other sweets are high calorie foods, and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Avoid Eating Meat – Meat, chicken, and egg are all high in cholesterol, with egg yolk having the highest cholesterol content.
- Eat Salad – Eating salad or raw vegetables is better than cooking these items. By cooking them, you actually kill many vital nutrients. Eating raw fruits and vegetables help you get more nutrients and fiber. Eating salad can be a healthy option for an evening or midday snack.
- Avoid Alcohol – It has been found than having 60 ml of wine daily helps to increase good cholesterol, but exceeding that limit or consuming other forms of alcohol affects the oxygen absorption capacity of cells, making the body more vulnerable to bad cholesterol.
And lastly Exercise Regularly – Daily exercise of around 45 minutes is the best way to keep your body fit and control cholesterol. Exercise helps you burn extra calories and ensures less accumulation of fat in the body.