High cholesterol and diet go hand in hand. If you consume a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in junk food, your cholesterol levels should be under control. However, if you consume a diet high in junk food and low on healthy foods, you may soon fall victim to high cholesterol.
Junk food is high in unhealthy trans and saturated fats which lead to a build-up of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol is found in two types, namely LDL (low-density lipoproteins) also known as ‘bad cholesterol’ and HDL (high-density lipoproteins) also known as ‘good cholesterol’. High levels of LDL have a see-saw effect on the total cholesterol in the body. As LDL (bad cholesterol) levels rise they lower HDL (good cholesterol). Excess amounts of cholesterol in our system lead to the cholesterol being deposited into the arteries, where it can form into plaque and lead to the following health problems:
- Severe heart pain
- Heart attack
- Blood clotting
But the good news is that adding certain cholesterol-friendly foods, such as fish and chickpeas to our diet can help lower high cholesterol levels, and protect us from these health problems.
The high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, owe to its ability to lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, thus making it a superfood when it comes to treating high cholesterol. The cholesterol-lowering benefits of fish are as follows:
- Fish can cut down blood cholesterol by 20% and triglycerides by 40-70 %.
- Eating fish also prevents the build-up of plaque in the arteries and thus protects against the occurrence of a heart attack.
- Overflowing with Omega-3 fats and generous amounts of potassium, fish also keeps our blood pressure within a healthy range.
So do add fish into your diet to enjoy its numerous health benefits. A little as two to three servings of fish (300-400 grams) a week can keep a check on high cholesterol and act as a preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases. Also, apart from fish itself, fish oil drastically outranks vegetable oils, when it comes to fighting high cholesterol.
To know more about the health benefits of fish, click here for our list of top 5 fish you should include into your diet to manage cholesterol.
Chomp on chickpeas
Well if you’re vegetarian, or simply do not eat fish, don’t worry! Chickpeas are equally effective in lowering and managing high cholesterol levels. Popularly known as ‘Bengal gram’ or ‘Chole’, chickpeas are high in soluble fiber, and are known to reduce blood sugar levels naturally and benefit overall good health. In contrast they are low in sodium, which make they good for blood pressure patients. Here’s how chickpeas can help lower high cholesterol:
- Chickpeas bind with the fatty acids in the digestive system and manage cholesterol levels.
- They aid proper digestion and prevent constipation, thus preventing toxins from building up within our system.
- Chickpeas help keep the arteries clean and protect against the build-up of plaque.
- They keep you feeling full for longer and prevent overeating leading to unhealthy weight gain
So if you have a cholesterol problem, try substituting your cereals, rice, or chapattis with chickpeas. You can boil them or eat them with raw with some chopped onions and tomatoes, or stir-fry with a tablespoon of olive oil. Click here for more information on how chickpeas lower cholesterol and for a low-calorie yummy chickpeas recipe!