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The big bad C

ESTHER SATHIARAJ
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health As we observe the cholesterol awareness month, here are some tips to deal with it

Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. Here are five foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.

Oats and high fibre foods Oatmeal contains soluble fibre, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Soluble fibre is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, prunes and barley. Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Around 5 to 10 grams or more of soluble fibre a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.

Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. Bake, grill or boil the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don’t like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed or canola oil.

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. Eating about a handful (40 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts aren’t salted or coated with sugar. All nuts are high in calories, so replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts. For example, instead of having deep fried snacks, have a handful of walnuts or almonds.

Olive oil. Try using about 2 tablespoons (20 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. Olive oil is high in calories, so don’t eat more than the recommended amount.

Soy protein. Using soy foods such as tofu and soy beans instead of animal protein have a modest role in lowering the bad cholesterol. 20-40 g of soy can be taken daily.

Other changes. For any of these foods to provide their benefit, you need to make other changes to your diet and lifestyle. Losing weight and exercising regularly have proven beneficial in management of cholesterol. Limiting fat/oil intake, eliminating trans-fats, including plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in the diet can reduce your blood cholesterol and improve your heart health.

ESTHER SATHIARAJ

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