Cholesterol is a compound which is present in most body tissues and is important in metabolism; however high concentrations in the blood are known to create a condition known as atherosclerosis. This is a condition, caused by the deposition of fatty material on the inner walls of arteries, which may lead to heart attacks. To combat such potential developments, there is a need for a change in lifestyle, in which healthy eating plays an integral part. Doctors and experts in this field suggest that the most effective cholesterol lowering diets should have high fibre, soy, fish oil and garlic. These are discussed below:
Key Components of Cholesterol Lowering Diets:
Soya contains isoflavones and soya proteins that play an important part in lowering blood cholesterol levels. A daily intake of at least 25 grams reduces‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL) by about 8%. In a study on people with cholesterol levels of 260-300, who practised this habit, the reduction of cholesterol, was found to be 15 – 25%.Soy products include soya beans, soya milk, soya flour and tofu. Some people prefer to have soya beverages and energy bars that typically contain 10 to 20 grams of soya protein.
A diet rich in fibre is considered to be helpful in reducing cholesterol. This is because fibre when consumed is not entirely digested and helps in lowering cholesterol levels. Most fruits like strawberries, oranges, apples, melons and grapefruit are rich in fibre. Among vegetables, squash, cabbage, beets, spinach, broccoli and peas are rich sources of fibre. Oats and barley contain the soluble fibre - Beta Glucan which plays an important role in lowering cholesterol. It is important to note that whole grain foods are preferred to processed foods because the fibre content is stripped while processing.
Fish, especially sea fish like mackerel and sardines are powerful sources of cholesterol reducing diets. The omega-3 poly unsaturated fats found in fish are not only cholesterol lowering, but also help in decreasing the chances of blood clotting that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Garlic is an important component of a cholesterol lowering diet. It has been found that odourless, coated garlic tablets are the most effective. The coating enables the garlic content in the tablet to pass through the digestive tract to the small intestine where the sulphur compounds in garlic get broken down during digestion and reduce cholesterol levels.
While cholesterol lowering diets help to contain increase in cholesterol levels, other life style changes should also be made. These include exercise, weight reduction and cessation of smoking. A complete change of lifestyle that includes aerobic exercises, walking, jogging and a change in diet can be a solution. There are a number of suggestions from experts in the field that diet could be an important aid in reducing cholesterol. Such diets include a number of foods as discussed above. In general, simple changes that increase the intake of healthy food, can have a beneficial effect on both cholesterol levels, and overall health. Eat healthy, stay healthy!
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