Top 10 foods to control cholesterol levels – Increase HDL cholesterol & lower LDL cholesterol

Foods help to lower your bad cholesterol levels
By : Purple Kaddu Posted on :

You would have come across a number of ads and talks on high cholesterol in blood, why it is bad and how it is an enemy to good health! But the key to win over your enemy is to know your enemy well.

Cholesterol, a type of fat, is of two types: LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the “lousy” or bad cholesterol. On the other hand HDL is the “healthy” or good cholesterol. Here we put down 10 foods that will help you increase your HDL level and lower your LDL level, thus maintaining a good cholesterol profile.

  1. Whole grains (oats, barley, jowar):

    Oats and barley contain 'soluble fibre'. Well, this fibre is basically like a trap, it traps the bad cholesterol and gets it out of your system. Sounds great? Try using these grains. Oats porridge, upma, tikki, khichdi, uthapa...I can go on and on. That's how versatile this grain is. 

    Sorghum (jowar) is another wonder grain. The 'phytochemicals' in it will manage cholesterol levels. Another reason to consume whole grains is the amino acid 'arginine' 

  2. Garlic:

    This strong-flavoured spice  contains 'allicin' which will knock down your cholesterol levels. But the catch here is the way you eat garlic. Supposedly, raw garlic is more effective than cooked garlic. (yeah, the garlic paste in your curry will not really help you ). So, if you want more from garlic, then chew 3-4 fresh garlic garlic cloves a day.

  3. Green Tea and Black Tea:

    Green tea scoring high on 'catechins' and black tea high in 'theaflavins' do not allow the bad cholesterol to enter in your system. Cholesterol thus gets excreted. The use of both green and black tea together may thus be more beneficial than one tea type. So all tea lovers, you have all the more reasons to have tea.

  4. Lycopene (tomatoes, watermelons, red guavas, mango, carrots):

    Lycopene is what gives that red colour to fruits and vegetables. Found in tomatoes, watermelons, red guavas, mango and carrots, this compound also helps reduce cholesterol levels.

  5. Healthy fats: MUFA (mono-unsaturated fats)​ and omega-3 fatty acids (almonds, avocado, fish, flaxseed):

    Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, pecans, have great options here! These nuts are rich in MUFA and nutrients like vitamin E, copper, magnesium - all help lower cholesterol. But, nuts work best when eaten in moderation. Aim for a handful of chopped nuts sprinkled on cereal, salad, in yogurt or eaten as is. 

    Avocado - a creamy fruit is heart healthy too.The 'beta-sitosterol' in avocado prevents absorption of cholesterol in body. Guacamole dip or scrambled avocado, enjoy it any way. 

    I am sure you have heard of the buzzword - omega 3 fatty acids. It's basically fats found in  

    • salmon

    • herring

    • tuna

    • mackerel

    • sardines

    • flaxseeds

    • chia seeds

    • walnuts

    • sunflower seeds

    Omega-3 is a healthy fat i.e. a fat which will not literally make you fat, but help improve fat level in your body. Aim for eating fish twice a week or if you are vegetarian, enjoy seeds by adding to smoothies, salads or as is.

  6. Spinach:

    Cholesterol is waxy, it sticks to your arteries. Well, the good news is that the 'lutein' present in spinach helps “shrug off” the cholesterol. As little as 1 cup of cooked spinach per day has been shown to be beneficial. So steam up these leaves, add to paratha or sandwich fillings and enjoy a hearty meal.  

  7. Beans (vaal, guar, rajmah):

    Beans contain 'guar gum' which forms a gel in your gut and prevents the cholesterol from entering your system. Fresh beans such as field beans(vaal) and cluster beans(guar) should be on your next shopping list.

  8. Soyabean:

    The 'isoflavones' in soyabean help to reduce LDL. (if you remember, it's the bad cholesterol).  In it’s various forms like tofu, soya flour, soymilk, soy granules, soya can add a healthy variety to your diet. About 25gm of soy protein/day has been found to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

  9. Dark chocolate:

    Who does not enjoy a bar of chocolate? The good news is that dark chocolate has a good amount of antioxidants and is with you in your fight against cholesterol. So grab two squared pieces of dark chocolate which has atleast 60% cocoa. But don’t go overboard and avoid overindulging. White chocolate has none of these beneficial compounds!

  10. Onion:

    Red or white, both onions contain high levels of 'quercetin' (the compound which makes your eyes water!). How do they help with your cholesterol levels? Onions do not allow the blood vessels to get blocked! So, enjoy onions by adding them to salads, mix vegetable sauté or curries. 

Get going the natural way with these foods along with atleast 40 minutes of moderate physical activity everyday to keep cholesterol level in blood under check.

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