Although Cholesterol is important, it could be harmful if we have more of the bad type i.e. LDL and less of the good type i.e. HDL which helps clean the LDL thus keeping the arteries clean.
All of us have LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol in our blood streams. LDL cholesterol is lower in protein density and carries more fatty acids and is more prone to oxidation. It delivers cholesterol to the tissues. If you do not consume sufficient antioxidants like Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium, it can get oxidized very fast and that is when the problem begins.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is higher in protein density and carries less fatty acids. It picks up excess cholesterol left by LDL and brings it back to the liver or to the tissue that needs it. Hence, it is called good cholesterol.
Between these two types of cholesterol, LDL carries more oxygen and fatty acids and it is more prone to oxidation and produces cell damaging free radicals. Therefore, when you have an undesirable cholesterol ratio i.e. more LDL and less HDL you need to improve it by correcting your diet.
Food & Cholesterol
Food plays an important role, in not only reducing total cholesterol but also increasing HDL so as to improve the heart risk ratio. I strongly recommend intake of the following foods.
- Whole pulses & soya beans
- Garlic & ginger
- Fatty fish like salmon, surmai, bangada, bhetki
- Nuts such as almonds & walnuts
- Fruits such as strawberries, apples, & grapefruit
- Olive oil
- Red wine
I believe, that if you are one of those with the worst cholesterol readings i.e. very high LDL and very low HDL, then diet therapy would work best for you. But if you are slightly above the normal range, then the efficacy of the diet in reducing cholesterol is also proportionately less.
So as long as your body is well nourished and you have sufficient supplies of antioxidants available as in fruits and vegetables, you need not worry about your body’s ability to handle cholesterol.
An unhealthy diet & lifestyle
However, if you are eating a lot of processed and refined foods, whole milk and red meat and your blood tests shows a bad HDL to total cholesterol ratio and very high cholesterol readings, then you must get down to some serious thinking about your dietary habits.
Just by being a vegetarian you do not wear a shield against heart disease. If you scrutinize your dietary habits you may find that you are eating a lot of refined flour, cheese, consuming refined vegetable oils, white bread, sweets, chocolate cakes, ice creams, whole milk, fried items, there may be a total lack of exercise, or you may be highly stressed.
- The degree to which your arteries get damaged depends on:
- The amount of free radicals in the body (All these above mentioned foods promote cell damaging free radical activity.)
- The amount of antioxidants that you consume (Antioxidants are present in fresh fruits and vegetables and in raw nuts and whole grains). They prevent free radical activity and in turn cell damage.
- The type of oil you use for cooking (Refined vegetables oils containing PUFA are more unstable than olive oil.)
- The amount of soluble fiber in your diet.
Evidence suggest that the major influence of foods on heart disease has more to do with blood clotting factors than with blood cholesterol. The way your blood clots is probably the most important determinant of whether you will suffer a heart attack, or a stroke. It usually takes longer to reduce heart risks by lowering cholesterol, whereas you can sharply cut your chances of heart attack by preventing blood clots by consuming foods such as garlic, ginger, raw onions, hot peppers, cloves green tea, olive oil, red wine and vitamin E supplements. Foods such as garlic and onions do both i.e. reduce blood clots as well as lower cholesterol so you can get double benefits.
Another important factor is blood fibrinogen, which is a protein responsible for clot formation. High blood levels of fibrinogen is a predictor a heart disease. Foods such as garlic, ginger, onions, red wine etc. help your ‘fibrinolytic system’ (which breaks up and dissolves unwanted clots) to function better.
The above mentioned foods when eaten in small quantities regularly can have powerful pharmalogical effects on your blood clots and thus can help save you from cardiovascular tragedies. So if you are suffering from high cholesterol, or simply want to reduce your risk of it, get in touch with our health experts on our toll free number 1800 266 0607, and book your first appointment right away.