A high level of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol is well-recognized as a risk factor for heart disease; if you want to keep a heart attack or a stroke at bay, you need to pay attention to lowering it. Along with this, you also ought to do what you can to increase your store of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol. Here are some foods that have been a part of Indian cuisine for ages, and are now being found to have valuable cholesterol-reducing action.
Fenugreek or Methi
Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of constituents known as steroidal saponins that help to reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol coming in through the fat-rich foods we eat. Besides, researchers also speculate that these saponins may have a role to play in reducing the body’s production of cholesterol. This, along with the fibre present in the fenugreek seed coat makes methi a valuable weapon in the fight against high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Here are 15 health benefits of methi. Read more about how methi can help you get better skin and hair
Health.India.com tip:Place methi seeds in a skillet and dry roast using medium heat for about two minutes, with constant stirring. Allow the seeds to cool and then powder; add one teaspoon of this powder to hot or cold water and take once or twice in a day. You could also sprinkle a little of this powder at the end of cooking vegetables in gravy if you do not mind the slight bitter taste it gives.
Flaxseed or Alsi
Also called linseed, flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that have a protective action on heart health. Like fenugreek, these seeds also contain a lot of fiber and this binds with cholesterol, preventing its absorption. The regular use of flaxseed is said to prevent the arteries from hardening due to the deposition of cholesterol; it also helps reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and hypertension. Flaxseeds also have the effect of increasing the concentrations of apolipoprotein A1 which goes to form HDL cholesterol. Read more why flaxeseeds are good for your health.
Health.India.com tip: Grind flaxseeds and add the powder into your food towards the end of the cooking process. Although it will not be damaged by heat, the fiber present in the flaxseeds can absorb liquid and cause a thickening of the gravy if added early in the cooking process. Sprinkle a little flaxseed powder over breakfast cereals, cooked vegetables, or mix in with your chutney powder.
Garlic has long been used in Indian kitchens to pep up spicy dishes; our ancestors appear to have known a lot about its medicinal value. Research now shows that garlic reduces LDL cholesterol, prevents a rise of blood pressure and also avoids the deposition of plaque on the walls of arteries, reducing chances of heart attack and stroke. Garlic contains sulphurous compounds that act as antioxidants and also help with expansion of the blood vessels, keeping blood pressure at a normal level. Here are 15 health benefits of garlic. Also read how you can keep your blood sugar in control naturally with garlic.
Health.India.com tip: Consume a few cloves of raw garlic every day or crush and add it into your curries and gravies if you cannot bear the raw garlic taste. For maximum benefit, crush or chop garlic and leave it for 5 minutes to activate the beneficial compound called allicin – after this, even adding tamarind or lemon juice will not destroy the garlic’s action. Avoid microwaving or boiling entire garlic cloves because this can destroy the activity of the vital constituents.
Onion contains a constituent called quercetin that is known to be a strong antioxidant; this means it can prevent the damaging effects of free radicals on human tissues. Researchers have linked quercetin of onions with increased levels of HDL cholesterol as well as low levels of LDL cholesterol. Read more why onions are good for your health.
Health.India.com tip: Consume onion raw in the form of salads. Make a juice out of it by steaming and squeezing. If you can manage the raw smell of onion, just cut the onions without steaming and extract the juice and drink, or mix in a few other vegetables while juicing.
Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that help to keep the arteries healthy. However, eat them in raw form without adding salt or sugar or you will add to the calorie content. Here’s how nuts cut your death risk
Health.India.com tip: While it is okay to snack on a few nuts, eating too many may prove counterproductive because the fats in them can cause weight gain.
Certain species of fish are a storehouse of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids that reduce LDL cholesterol and protect the heart. Herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines, halibut and lake trout are good sources of these fatty acids that also help increase HDL cholesterol. Learn how fish oil reduces the risk of diabetes.
Health.India.com tip: Try to consume fish in grilled or baked form; frying it will only add to the unhealthy fat content of your food. Although omega-3 supplements are available, it is best to get your supply from fish which contain another valuable ingredient – selenium – that is good for your health.
Oats and Beans
Oats are a rich source of fiber and a compound called beta glucan; these act together to bring about a reduction in the levels of LDL cholesterol. Beans also contain a large amount of fiber and can help to reduce the quantity as well as the rate of cholesterol absorption from the diet. Here are 5 reasons to start eating oats today
Health.India.com tip: Make dishes containing both black and white Rajma a regular item on your menu. Oats may be consumed by cooking slightly in water and then mixing in milk or buttermilk; you could also substitute oats for some of the rice in dosa batter or khichadi.
The cholesterol in your blood comes from two sources – what your body synthesizes and what you consume through the diet. There may be nothing much you can do about the former but the latter is definitely within your control – all you need to do is keep tabs on what you eat.
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