High cholesterol: Effective lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol in winters | Health
Winters can increase the risk of certain diseases and health conditions and this is partly due to our sedentary lifestyle during the season and also the fact that we eat high calorie food more often compared to other seasons. While pakoras, chips, flatbreads may taste heavenly with a cup of tea, if eaten regularly such foods can play havoc with our bad cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance present in the cells of our body that helps produce hormones, vitamin D and substances that aid digestion. However, excess cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries and put us at risk of heart problems. (Also read: Simple tips to reduce cholesterol before the Christmas feast)
“As Mercury descends with each passing day, there is an increased risk of people suffering from high cholesterol due to being inactive/lazy during the winter season. The body needs cholesterol to function properly, but high levels of cholesterol can lead to the development of fatty deposits (plaque) inside the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiac arrests and strokes. Unhealthy or uncontrolled cholesterol levels can also lead to several other co-morbidities such as chronic kidney disease , diabetes, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms, among others,” says Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Medical Consultant and Senior Director of Internal Medicine, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.
It is important to keep your cholesterol levels under control to avoid such health problems.
Dr. Suman Bhandari – Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi shares some helpful tips.
1. Keep exercising at home or when it’s sunny outside, you can go outside well covered with multiple layers of clothes, wool cap/muffler for walking and exercising.
2. Avoid excessive fried/high sugar food and instead get fruits and vegetables (at least 4-5 servings) a day. Eat radish, carrots etc. as a snack. Adding soluble fiber like Isabgol, leafy greens, eggplant, okra, oats, whole grains like barley, and whole beans will also help lower cholesterol.
3. Avoid drinks and sweets with sugar such as ice cream, sweets, gajaku, rewari, cake, cookies, etc.
4. Avoid red meat such as mutton, pork, lamb and eat fish and chicken instead.
5. Avoid pakoras, chips, onion rings, too many eggs.
6. Avoid excessive drinking or smoking.
7. Foods (margarine and granules) fortified with 2 g of plant steroids can lower LDL by 10%.
8. Omega-3 supplements like fatty fish can lower triglycerides and replace red meat.
9. Consuming soy milk (2 and a half cups) or 25 gm tofu can lower LDL by 5-6%.
10. Nuts: Eating even 2 ounces a day of nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts can lower LDL by up to 5% in addition to other heart healthy factors.
“Reduce your intake of saturated fat or trans fat. One of the most common reasons for bad cholesterol levels is due to the food we eat. Reducing your intake of saturated fat can go a long way in controlling your cholesterol levels during the winter “, says Dr. Shukla.
“Overweight people are much more likely to suffer from bad cholesterol levels, making it important to reduce and maintain body weight. A smarter way to make heart-healthy food at home is to use the cooking method with zero oil. Oil is known to be harmful to the human body in the long term and there is a lot of misunderstanding among the general public that adding oil means adding flavor to food. The same food taste can be achieved without the use of oil Reducing the consumption of oil will not be harmful to the body as it is already present inside in the form of good cholesterol”, adds Dr Shukla.
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