By Naini Setalvad
Naini Setalvad chalks out 12 ways to keep your cholesterol down and your health high
Cholesterol is a vital part of our body’s cells. However, a high level of cholesterol is detrimental to health for several reasons. Cholesterol usually gives rise to health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity. The most basic way to control your cholesterol is to increase your antioxidant intake. Antioxidants remove the plaque which clogs the arteries from your body. They also protect you from a wide range of diseases; varying from the common cold and cholesterol to cancer. Employ these methods to keep cholesterol under control.
Start your day with a glass of either warm or room temperature water. Continue drinking water throughout the day. Water stimulates your cells and also flushes toxins out of your body.
Choose the vegetable of the season and eat it raw as a salad before lunch and dinner. Salads need not be elaborate – simply chop up two vegetables, toss them together with lemon, rock salt and any masala or light dressing of your choice. The best vegetables for fighting cholesterol are: tomatoes, lemon, carrots, pumpkins and leafy greens such as spinach, coriander, dill. The fibre in these vegetables also helps bind cholesterol in the liver so that the cholesterol levels in the blood do not increase.
Brightly coloured fruits are rich in antioxidants as well. Pomegranates and grapes are your best bet for fighting cholesterol. Oranges, sweet lime, guavas, papayas, kiwis and bananas are also great options.
Herbs and spices are rich with antioxidants and a vast variety of vitamins. They boost the flavour of your food. Turmeric, garlic, coriander and cinnamon have flavanoids that fight bad cholesterol.
It is human nature to need sugar. Switch to munching dry fruits such as raisins, figs, dates, prunes and dry apricots. They contain no fat, and are extremely rich in fiber and reduce cholesterol.
Do not be scared of coconut, cow’s ghee or nuts as these are good quality fats. Increase monosaturated fats found in mustard oil and extra virgin olive oil. Increase Omega 3 fats found in walnuts, flax seeds and oily seeds.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent substitute to oily snacks since they are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These nuts include almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, peanuts and pistachios. Seeds include sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and safflower seeds.
Green tea is a zero-calorie beverage. It is rich with antioxidants and is also very stimulating.
Ayurveda considers barley to be one of the healthiest grains in existence. It is rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, which is popular for lowering cholesterol.
Fried foods are usually cooked in oil which is used and reused. This oil is carcinogenic. It is also heated beyond its smoke point, causing chemical changes that create trans fatty acids and increase bad cholesterol.
It’s vital to do cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, swimming, cycling or just plain walking daily. This helps to burn fat in the body, reducing both weight and bad cholesterol.
It’s important to maintain your vitamin levels, especially vitamin B12 and vitamin D3. Since these are not easily available in food, it can affect the cholesterol health. Consult your doctor and see if you need to take injections of these vitamins. We all want to dodge heart disease and live longer and healthier. Little do we realize that our kitchens are our medicine cabinets – not only big in size, but mighty in the power they have to give us energy and great health. Best of all, these are found in the humble fruits, vegetables, grains, spices and nuts!
Mixed fruit sandesh
4 – 6 grapes
1 cup low fat paneer
4 – 5 walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 cup walnuts
Juice of half a lemon
2 pods garlic
1 tsp. dates paste
1 potato boiled
Rock salt to taste
Bio; Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specialising in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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