You must be well aware of the harm that cholesterol does to your heart when it hits unacceptable highs. However, all cholesterol is not bad for you. Your body needs the cholesterol your liver produces to make vital substances your body requires, especially fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D and hormones. Further, it keeps your body cells flexible. Cholesterol has been divided into high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, which are considered good and bad cholesterol respectively. Your liver produces all the cholesterol your body requires packed with fat in the form of very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).
Unlike many other physical conditions, high cholesterol levels can be rolled back to healthy levels. If your dangerously high cholesterol levels are identified only after blood vessels have been blocked; then you would have to take medication to bring it under control. Otherwise, there are several very effective home remedies, and natural means to bring it under control. HDL is considered a good cholesterol because it moves fat deposits away from the vessel walls. On the other hand, LDL is considered dangerous for your health, especially your cardiac health because it deposits fat on the walls of your blood vessels, thereby clogging them. This places your kidneys under extreme stress. The trick is to not only consume more HDL fatty substances compared to LDL fats; but also those foodstuffs which break down LDL.
When LDL and VLDL react with free radicals, the process of oxidation which is initiated poses the real threat to your cardiac and overall health. While many dietary recommendations suggest that you go off fat as far as possible to lose weight; it is dangerous to do so because both LDL and HDL levels get lowered. Your body gets most of its LDL from saturated fats like butter, cream, ghee, ice cream, hydrogenated oils like Dalda, chicken with skin, and prime cuts of beef. It frankly doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. You are at risk anyway, unless you eat only fresh greens, whole grains, nuts, skimmed milk, loads of fresh fruits, and fish.
The key to saving your heart is by adding monounsaturated fats to your diet. Peanut oil and butter, canola oil, sesame (til) oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, and safflower oil are good examples of monosaturated oils, which you can use as cooking mediums. A leading cardiologist in Calcutta had postulated way back in the 1980s, one reason why Bengalis, despite being so excitable, tend to develop cardiac diseases less than some ethnic groups is that their food is almost wholly cooked in mustard oil, while fish and greens dominate their daily menu. With a balanced combination of around 60% monounsaturated fatty acids — 42% erucic acid, 12% oleic acid; around 21% polyunsaturated fats — 6% omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, 15% omega-6 linoleic acid; and 12% saturated fats, mustard oil has the greatest health benefits to offer you.
Think of all the advice you brushed off thinking, “What does grandma know?” Much more than you ever realized. You should avoid, as far as reasonably practical, baked foods like pies, pizzas, cakes, pastries, and doughnuts. You can begin with substituting red meats with fish like sardines, albacore tuna, rohu, catla, halibut, pabda, herring, and salmon, that have omega-3 fats. This would help you substitute saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. However, be wary of fish like king mackerel and swordfish which might have high levels of mercury. Note that nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews which come from trees, and seeds like flaxseed are a good source of omega-3 oils, sterols, and fiber.
Delve into all those colorful vegetables and fruits like beets, tomatoes, berries, melons, lemons, and grapes to benefit from their cholesterol-blocking molecules called sterols and stanols. The biggest advantage of sterols and stanols is that they do not clog the arteries because their chemistry is different from human cholesterol. Not just bok choy, spinach, lettuce, kale, garden cress, collards, and fenugreek leaves; but also those crunchy green vegetables like broccoli, cabbages, beans, and asparagus; fruits like bananas, avocados, plums, oranges, olives, apples, prunes; other veggies like sweet potatoes, colored bell peppers, peas, cauliflowers, and carrots provide the necessary crunch and fibers your body needs to cleanse the fatty deposits.
Papaya, kiwi, cantaloupe, and other fruits rich in vitamin C; and foodstuffs like egg yolk, chicken liver, butter, and cheese which are rich in vitamin K2 should form part of your regular diet to break down atherosclerois, i.e. plaque — deposits of calcium, fatty substances, and scar tissue — accumulation in the arteries. Whole grains like oats and wheat porridge, lentils, soy, and psyllium husks also add fiber to your meal which clear your guts and blood vessels.
Indian food traditionally integrates turmeric, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, and cinnamon which make it delicious. The curcumin in turmeric reduces your levels of bad cholesterol by breaking down the plaque coating the walls of your blood vessels. The high concentration of allicin, ajoene, s-allylcysteine, s-ethylcysteine, and diallylsulfide which are known to reduce the total and LDL cholesterol significantly, make garlic the go to choice for spicing up your menu. Rich with folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene, coriander seeds don’t just make your food appetizing, but also aid in reducing LDL cholesterol levels. Fenugreek seeds contain saponin which aid in eliminating excess cholesterol from the body, while its fiber reduces cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
Too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, or too much LDL is bad news for your heart as it can block your arteries and veins, while damaging your liver and kidneys. A quick, and reliable way to break down the bad boys — the LDL cholesterol — is by ensuring that you eat sufficient soluble fiber, and substitute LDL cholesterol with healthy HDL cholesterol. Quit smoking, and get active to further reduce cholesterol levels. Laugh out loud — literally — it will shake up your innards to loosen up the bad cholesterol coating your arterial walls.
People with the highest amounts of alcohol intake have the highest HDL cholesterol compared with those who never drink hard liquor.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can help in reducing total and LDL cholesterol. Many of the most effective remedies are to be found in your own kitchen.