Raised cholesterol levels are one of the primary factors that increase the risks of heart disease and stroke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, a third of ischaemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol. In 2008, the global prevalence of raised total cholesterol among adults was 39% (37% for males and 40% for females). Diet and lifestyle play important roles in maintaining cholesterol levels. Priya Palan, Dietitian, Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai, talks about 10 food items that can help in lowering cholesterol levels.
Here is a list of foods that you need to eat to keep your heart safe:
1) Whole grains: Grains such as oats and barley contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan which helps in lowering cholesterol. It is a good idea to include them in your daily menu and you will surely notice the difference.
2) Nuts: These are packed with healthy fats, which are good for our hearts. Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are beneficial for your heart health. Apart from cholesterol, they can also help in lowering triglyceride levels, lowering blood pressure and allowing you to stay fit.
3) Legumes: Legumes also known as pulses include items such as chickpeas, lentils, and peas and can reduce the risk of heart disease. They are good sources of fibre, minerals, and plant-based proteins. They contain Phytosterols that lower the bad LDL cholesterol and improve HDL cholesterol.
4) Soybeans: Soy milk has fibre and protein to help you manage your cholesterol levels and keep various heart problems at bay.
5) Vegetables: Dark green leafy vegetables like bhindi and beans are low in calories and contain high soluble fibre, thus helping to maintain cholesterol levels. It helps to keep weight in check.
6) Fruits: They are high in antioxidants and good sources of soluble fibre which help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. Eating berries are particularly related to improving good cholesterol levels.
7) Fatty Fish: Fish such as mackerel and salmon are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are linked to decreasing the risk of heart diseases, and stroke and reducing inflammation. It lowers bad cholesterol.
8) Avocado: A heart-healthy, nutrient-dense fruit, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and fibre that raise good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.
9) Garlic: Allicin, a plant compound present in garlic, is related to the reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Consume on regular basis for a healthy heart.
10) Dark Chocolate: Cocoa found in dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants that help to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. However, products made of dark chocolate must be eaten in moderation as they can be high in sugar and saturated fats.