BY DR. KHOOBSURAT NAJMA
Studies suggest that cholesterol problems can be addressed with simple dietary changes. And aerobic exercises further enhance the cholesterol lowering effects of a healthy diet.
Here are some quick tips to lower cholesterol without drugs:
1 . Say no to trans fats
Food manufacturers use trans fats because they extend the shelf life of packaged baked goods. They raise LDL (bad cholesterol), lower HDL (good cholesterol), and increase risk of developing heart disease and stroke. They’re found in fried foods, baked goods (cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, and cookies). Follow this rule: choose fats and oils with 2 grams or less saturated fat per tablespoon.
2 . Switch to olive oil
Substituting olive oil for ghee or butter may reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 15%, which is similar to the effect of a low dose of medication The “good” fats in olive oil benefit your heart. Choose extra-virgin olive oil.
3 . Add lots of fiber to your diet
Research suggests that increasing soluble fiber intake by 5 to 10 grams each day may result in a 5% drop in LDL cholesterol. Foods like oatmeal, apples, prunes, and beans are high in soluble fiber, which keeps your body from absorbing cholesterol.
4 . Choose colorful fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with ingredients that lower cholesterol—including fiber, cholesterol-blocking molecules called sterols and stanols, and eye-appealing pigments. These include leafy greens, yellow squashes, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, plums, blueberries.
5 . Add spices to your cooking
Spices like garlic, curcumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander, and cinnamon can improve cholesterol. Research shows that eating half to one clove of garlic each day could lower cholesterol up to 9%. Find more cholesterol reducing foods here.
6 . Lose those extra kilos
If you’re overweight, drop of just 4-5 Kg will reduce your LDL by up to 8%. Having 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day (for women) and 1200-1600 calories/day (for men) will help in losing weight safely.
7 . Exercise regularly
Exercising at least 2 1/2 hours a week (around 20 minutes per day) is enough to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and improve LDL and triglycerides. Start with a 20 minute brisk walk daily!
8 . Have a handful of nuts
Almonds and walnuts contain sterols, which, like fiber, keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Go for unsalted ones and keep the quantity in check.
9 . Quit smoking
Smoking can raise LDL and lower HDL, and quitting often improves those numbers. Breathing secondhand smoke every day can also raise levels of bad cholesterol.
10 . Stay happy
Studies suggest that when you are stressed, your cholesterol levels rise in the body. Engage in hobby like gardening, join a book club or try meditation or yoga classes to keep your spirits high.