Contributed by – Saumya Shatakshi, Senior Nutritionist
Most of us love to eat. For many it is our favorite pastime; munching an assortment of delicious, mouth-watering foods. But how many of us know that much of what we munch or is a staple part of our “comfort food” bracket is actually very rich in Cholesterol? Now, does the name scare you, reminding you of your relatives or friends affected by it? This article is an effort to educate you about the foods that you should be aware of, hence keeping you safe from the harmful effect of high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in the fats (lipids) in blood. While our body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. There are 2 types of cholesterol in the body; one is the good cholesterol (HDL) and the other, the bad cholesterol (LDL). While the good cholesterol helps to improve different functions in the body, the bad cholesterol brings about an array of problems. Regular monitoring of your cholesterol profile along with changes in lifestyle is the best approach to stay healthy. Read on to keep a check on what you eat if you want to stay away or control bad cholesterol.
1. French Fries
French fries are a favorite munching pass-time for all. But, it is deep fried which contains the unhealthiest fat i.e. trans-fat in combination with salt and hence falls in the category of foods considered as cholesterol-rich. Due to the presence of hydrogenated vegetable oils in French fries, it is a big no for people living with bad cholesterol.
TIP: Replace deep frying with baking.
2. Egg Yolks
A popular breakfast food, eggs have high cholesterol content. So if you wish to continue eating your favorite breakfast, eat egg whites preferably. Avoid fried egg and omelet stuffed with cheese.
TIP: Scrambled eggs cooked in controlled quantity of oil can be chosen as a healthy option.
Butter is everybody’s beloved fat option to enhance the taste of food. It contains saturated fat whereas salted butter contains a substantial amount of sodium as well. So, frequent consumption can clog your arteries, which will lead to heart problems and is considered very harmful for blood pressure patients too.
TIP: Use home cooked white butter (MAKHAN) instead.
4. Red Meat
Red meat like beef, lamb and pork tend to contain more cholesterol and saturated fat than other meats. This can contribute to a rise in cholesterol levels and worsen heart diseases.
TIP: Make white meat (chicken, fish) a part of your non-vegetarian diet choices.
5. Commercial Baked Goods
Lip smacking bakery items like a slice of cake or a muffin can be very hard to resist. These delightful snacks contain trans-fat which is bad for your heart health. So, the need of the hour is to stay away from these commercial baked goods.
TIP: Start baking at home. Muffins and cakes can easily and quickly be baked at home using healthier oils (Canola oil).
6. Microwave Popcorn
Movie theater pop-up snack can either be good or bad for health depending on how it is prepared. Microwave popcorn is an unhealthy choice as they contain chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring and often loaded with butter, oil and salt which increase cholesterol levels.
TIP: The healthiest popcorn is made in an old-fashioned manner on the stove-top or with a popcorn maker.
7. Macaroni and Cheese
This evil gooey collection of cheeses and pasta are packed with preservatives and artificial taste enhancers which are often loaded with calories, fat count and sodium which is bad for cholesterol.
TIP: A healthier version is whole wheat pasta made in red sauce loaded with veggies like bell peppers, onion, tomato, corn etc.
8. Ice- Cream
Sugar is not just an enemy for dental health and waistline which can lead to weight gain but it increases your risk for diabetes and bad cholesterol levels. Though the many ice-cream flavors available in the market are surely very tempting and satiate all demands of the greedy tongue, they actually put a dent on your health parameters.
TIP: Shift to home-made ice-creams made with low-fat milk added with fresh fruits. Also, increase your water intake to avoid sugar cravings.
9. Fizzy Drinks or Carbonated Beverages
The favorite thirst quencher has frequently been demonstrated to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. They provide empty calories which are of no nutritional value and they are damaging to health. It contains carbonic acid which erodes tooth enamel too.
TIP: Fresh lime or vita-water can be chosen as an option.
10. Convenience Foods
Processed foods are very convenient as they are boxed, bagged, canned or jarred. It is a hidden form of sugar, salt and fat and contains preservatives and other additives which can lead to weight and heart problems. They can also raise your blood pressure, putting you at danger of stroke.
TIP: There is nothing better than fresh home cooked food, yet if you need to eat processed food, figuring out the food labels on the packaged items will help choose the least harmful options.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but it is also the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. Therefore, the best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test. A healthy diet, regular exercise, periodic monitoring and sometimes medication can go a long way towards reducing high cholesterol levels.
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