7 tips to lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance found in our body. Some amount of it is naturally synthesized in our body and some is obtained from the food we eat. Cholesterol is needed by our body for the synthesis of certain hormones, vitamin D and is also required to build and maintain cell membranes. Cholesterol also helps in production of bile. When cholesterol exceeds the normal range then it is deposited in the walls of arteries increasing your risk of heart disease.
Following are the values of cholesterol levels
Desirable amount- less than 200 mg/dl
Boderline high- 200-239 mg/dl
high- 240 mg/dl and above.
Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream with the help of proteins which are known as lipoprotein. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol which are HDL and LDL.
LDL is commonly known as bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. And if the amount of cholesterol it carries to the cells is more i.e more than the quantity the cells can use then it leads to accumulation in the cells and this is not healthy.
HDL is commonly known as good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from the cells to the liver and from the liver it is excreted from the body.
Desirable HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are as follows-
HDL cholesterol should be greater than 40 mg/dl
LDL cholesterol should be less than 150 mg/dl
Causes of high cholesterol levels.
1. Diet- If you include foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol containing foods in your diet then they can lead to a rise in bad LDL cholesterol levels. For e.g- saturated fats are present in meats, dairy products, baked products. These tend to increase LDL levels and total cholesterol levels while trans fats which are present in fried and processed foods, most baked foods, farsans and snacking items tend to increase your LDL, total choletserol and decrease HDL levels.
2. Lack of physical activity- it is found that people who donot exercise have more LDL cholesterol.
3.Being overweight can lead to high LDL levels and decrease HDL levels.
4. Heredity- if you have a family history of high cholesterol levels, chances are that you might also have high cholesterol levels.
5.Age and Gender- Cholesterol levels increase with age. For women after menopause, LDL levels tend to be more.
Follow these tips to normalise your cholesterol :
Exercise can help you to keep your cholesterol in the normal range. Do some kind of aerobic exercise like walking, cycling, etc. Exercise will improve circulation and also lower risk of coronary heart disease. Try to exercise for atleast 30 minutes for 6 times per week.
2).Lose your extra weight:-
if you are overweight, then try to lose atleast 10 % of your body weight and you can see significant changes in your cholesterol levels. Losing weight helps to lower your high triglyceride levels as well. To lose weight cut down on your total calorie intake and exercise regularly.
3). Add fibre to your diet:-
Studies have shown that fibre reduces cholesterol. So try to add fibre to your daily diet by eating lost of fresh fruits and vegetables, choose whole grain cereals, also try to include a raw vegetable salad daily. Oats contains soluble fibre ( beta- glucan) which helps reduce LDL cholesterol. So start your day with a bowl of oatmeal porridge ( made in water).
4). Choose a diet low in saturated fats and trans fats:-
Foods which contain high amount of saturated fats include animal fats, butter, dairy products, ice creams while foods with high amount of trans fats include margarine, shortenings, baked foods, fried foods, cakes, pasteries, cake mixes, farsan , etc. These foods should be avoided. Whole egg contains cholesterol. So eat egg whites instead.
5). Choose your oils wisely:-
For lowering cholesterol, both the quality and quantity of oils used is important. Use rice bran oil or olive oil as your cooking medium if you have high cholesterol. Also just because you are using a healthy oil, you cannot use more of it. Use not more than 3-4 tea spoons of oil per person per day.
6).In addition to the above, include sources of omega -3- fatty acids in your diet. These improve your HDL levels. Very good sources of omega 3 include nuts like walnuts and flaxseeds, fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. Eat fish 3-4 times in a week. Make sure it is not fried. You can grill, bake or steam it.
7.Take 1 table spoon of flax seed powder daily and 1 table spoon of isabgol daily. These will also help you to reduce your total cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol.
What you put in your mouth can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. So eat wisely and stay healthy!
Artery Cleansing Diet
Your arteries are always ready to clean out the accumulated plaque provided you ‘allow’ them to do so. You will stop this natural healing process if you continue to eat fried, oily, greasy, multi-cuisine meals, eat pastries, deserts and chocolates, drink alcohol and continue to smoke. The arteries are blood vessels that transport oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. For the process to occur
normally and without any obstructions, the arteries should be flexible, strong, elastic and clear of any deposits. Ideally, we should all follow healthy lifestyles that minimize the likelihood of plaque buildup. Yet sometimes our poor diet and lack of exercise catch up with us, leading to heart disease and vulnerability to atherosclerosis.
What is plaque?
Plaque is nothing but deposits of cholesterol, calcium, fats and cellular waste products that gradually build up in arteries injured by inflammatory changes. The plaque can break loose from artery walls and rupture, leading to blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. Also, the plaque causes further inflammation within the vessel, narrowing the artery yet more. The built of plaques in arteries is the main cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease. As arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle gradually become blocked by plaques of cholesterol, fat, cells, and debris, the heart muscle starves for oxygen.
Though it may sound unbelievable, there are natural and healthy means by which one can ensure healthy and plaque-free arteries. Dr. Dean Ornish, a Harvard trained physician, showed that heart disease can be reversed. This can be achieved by simply using four-step plan involving vegetarian foods, along with mild regular exercise, stress management, and no smoking. This actually helps the arteries to clean themselves without medication or surgery.
For this article I’m going to elaborate upon three steps that will help cleanse your arteries. These include- Diet, Exercise and Supplements.
A good eating regime is the first natural way to keep your arteries working properly and avoid plaque build-up. According to Dr. Stengler, in his book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies eating right for healthy arteries means eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, and fish such as salmon, mackerel (Bangda), and sardines.
10 foods that keep your arteries clean:
- Deep colored fruits: Pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other colorful fruits. I do recommend a small glass of sugarless pomegranate juice, which substantially reduces risk of heart disease by preventing the built up of fatty substances on the arterial walls. Berries are the magical fruits that are brimming with anti-oxidant properties that prevent plaque built-up.
- Whole grains: Fiber- rich foods chelates the cholesterol and fats from the digestive tract and prevents its absorption and excretes them from the system. Avoid refined flour food products and choose instead whole grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, legumes, nuts or seeds. These foods are composed of soluble as well as insoluble fibre that Thus, it prevents the rise of cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream
- Fish such as salmon, rahu, surmai, and mackerel are rich in healthy, inflammation-fighting fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Having at least two servings per week bas been proven to lower the blood triglyceride levels and they will improve blood flow throughout the body.
- Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, which are abundant sources of disease-fighting antioxidants.
- Olive oil: Olive oil is rich in mufa which prevents LDL cholesterol to form fatty plaques and get deposited on the arterial walls.
- Oats: Oat bran contains betaglucan which helps reduce cholesterol. Compounds in oats prevent the ability of cholesterol to stick to artery walls, thereby preventing the built-up of plaques that clog arteries and increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Flaxseeds contain alpha linolenic acid which gets converted to omega 3 in the body. Omega3 helps prevent build of plaque. Take 2-3 tablespoon of flaxseeds powder everyday to cleanse your arteries.
- Nuts and Seeds are rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, are easy to incorporate. A handful of walnuts or almonds make for a heart-healthy snack.
- Green Tea: Green tea, the anti-oxidant powerhouse is filled with heart-friendly flavanoids. Studies have shown that they help dilate the major heart artery which helps improve the blood flow.
- Soya: Isoflavones, the phytoestrogen from soy improves the elasticity of the major heart artery in stroke patients. The protective effect lasts for long period of time which reaffirms the positive effect of soy on heart health
Dietary supplements can help you clean your arteries and keep them healthy. They also help maintain the flexibility, as well as elasticity of the arteries, which help ensure good blood flow.
- Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 improves oxygen supply to the heart while supporting heart functions and muscle strength. It also prevents the aggregation of platelets to the arterial wall.
- Fish oil supplements. Fish oil is an important source of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). There are studies which link low plaque built-up with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Garlic: Garlic has been used since years for its ability for lowering risk of heart diseases. A recent study had compared the effects of garlic along with statins only and placebo on plaque formation. Patients having garlic along with cholesterol lowering statins showed 66% reduction in new plaque formation.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is considered as the miraculous vitamin for all the right reasons. It is one of the most potent anti-oxidant activities and has an ability to reduce existing plaque, while also helping to prevent or reduce blood clots. Its helps prevent oxidation of LDL thereby preventing clot formation.
No amount of good food and nutrient supplementation will work unless it’s supplemented with healthy dose of exercise. As the blood parameters improve so does the health of arteries which begin to cleanse themselves naturally.
One does not have to embark upon a strenuous work-out regimen. Start off by engaging in physical activity that you enjoy, for example, swimming, jogging dancing etc. Start with 15 minutes and gradually build up the time and pace.
To see if this really works read this article again and incorporate the above suggestions in your daily routine. Even a small change in your dietary regime brings about major change in your state of health.
FOOD – YOUR BEST MEDICINE
Q1) I have high cholesterol and I’m overweight. What should my cholesterol levels be? How can diet lower my cholesterol levels?
A.If you are overweight and have high cholesterol, I suggest you get your blood sugar checked as well. Your cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl. Your HDL or good cholesterol should be higher than 45 mg/dl. LDL is the bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL above 130 mg/ dl show an increased risk of heart disease. Therefore you should try to maintain LDL less than 100 mg / dl and your triglycerides should be less than 150 mg / dl. Dietary changes may decrease LDL by 25-30 mg/dl. Avoid fried foods and animal protein. Use no more than 2-3 teaspoons of oil (olive, til, groundnut) per day. Increase consumption of fiber rich foods like oat bran, jowar, bajri, whole dals, sprouts, fruits and vegetables. Take at least 2-3 tablespoons of alsi seed powder daily. You can buy alsi seeds from your grocer and dry grind it into a powder. Add black salt and red chilli powder if you wish) for taste. Alsi seeds help improve HDL levels. Avoid maida, sugar fried snacks like chiwda gathia, papdi etc. As your LDL levels go down and HDL rises, your heart risk ratio will improve and total cholesterol levels will go down. To reduce triglycerides, begin taking a brisk walk for 30-40 minutes daily and eat about 150gms of fish (not fried) 2-3 times a week. Avoid whole milk and switch to skimmed milk instead. Sugar free soya milk is a better option. It is available at some health food shops. Avoid alcohol especially during the period that you are trying to control cholesterol. If you must drink then take dry red wine as it is known to improve HDL levels. But if you are not a drinker then there are other means of improving HDL. Smoking may lower HDL and raise blood pressure. So reduce smoking or give it up. Above all try to lose some weight as losing weight tends to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Q2) Is it true that beans can improve a Type II Diabetes control?
A) Yes. Beans cause a small rise in blood glucose and digest slowly. Consuming 2-3 cups of beans like rajhma, chowli, moth, matki, black beans (kali dal) kabuli channa, green mung leads to better diabetes control. Beans are rich in folates, which help lower harmful homocysteine levels, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Being rich in soluble fiber, low in carbohydrate and moderate in protein they help to lower cholesterol by 20%. Of course there are other dietary changes required as well for better diabetes control. Some people cannot digest beans as they find it gas forming. This problem can be easily solved by taking herbs, which aid digestion and improve liver function. Beans can be taken raw by sprouting them and mixing them with salads. You can soak them overnight and cook them with onions and tomatoes, ginger garlic and other Indian spices all of which are heart friendly.