Burger, french-fries, potato wafers, cheese sandwich and all non-vegetarian food items– What do these fast foods have in common?
They're actually the storehouse of cholesterol.
However, compelled by our taste buds, and thanks to our sedentary lifestyle, we suffer with high cholesterol levels. The below-mentioned alarming statistics serve as a proof:
A survey conducted by a chain of diagnostic clinics in September 2011 showed that men between 25 and 45 years in Ahmedabad (India) have shockingly high cholesterol levels, which is one of the key risk factors for heart problems.
An AstraZeneca sponsored online survey of 1000 Americans revealed that 57% of American adults are worried about their high cholesterol level.
In 2005, cardiovascular diseases killed over 18 million people of the world. 44% of these deaths were under 60 years of age. One of the major factors behind these deaths was high total serum cholesterol.
INSIGHT INTO WHAT ACTUALLY CHOLESTEROL IS
Cholesterol is a substance that is vital for every cell in the body. It helps the liver to digest fat, helps the body to produce enough vitamin D and maintains supple skin.
There are basically two types of cholesterol– low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) or bad cholesterol proteins and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) or good cholesterol proteins. Most of the cholesterol is LDL cholesterol. It is this LDL which is the cause behind clogging of blood vessels. And, if LDLs are in abundance, the ratio of LDL to HDL becomes imbalanced, which actually is very harmful for the body.
A MORE CLEAR VIEW ON WHY WORRY ABOUT HIGH CHOLESTEROL
Too much of cholesterol is life threatening. This is because high LDL cholesterol levels lead to the deposition of cholesterol on the walls of arteries. This in turn forms a hard substance called 'plaque'. Over time, plaque makes arteries narrow, decreases blood flow and throws a person into a condition called 'atherosclerosis' or hardening of the arteries.
The atherosclerosis can affect the coronary arteries (arteries that supply oxygenated and nutrient filled blood to the heart muscles) that can put a person at risk of suffering from a heart attack. Atherosclerosis can also damage the blood vessels which supply blood to the brain. This can cause 'cerebral vascular disease', which puts a person in the danger zone of having a stroke. Another harm which atherosclerosis may cause is, blocking of blood flow to other vital organs, including the kidneys and intestines.
So, before these dangers attack you and put your life at risk, start keeping a check on your cholesterol levels! The following two changes in your lifestyle can be of good help to control cholesterol:
1. Exercise and Pranayam
- 30-60 minutes of exercise a day can give amazing results in controlling cholesterol.
- Practising yoga can help reduce the levels of 'bad cholesterol' in the body to a great degree. Effective yog-asanas for cholesterol control are Surya Namaskaar (The Sun Salutation) and Shavasana (The Corpse Pose).
- Kapaalbhaati Pranayam is an excellent way of controlling cholesterol.
Pilates: This exercise for controlling cholesterol is done in following simple steps:
- Step 1: Lie down on the mat with your back straight and legs half bent.
- Step 2: Pull your left leg in towards your chest and hold it tight with both hands. Stretch the right leg straight.
- Step 3: Repeat Step 2 with the position of legs changed.
- Step 4: Repeat step 2 and 3 five times.
- Brisk walk/jogging is also one of the best and simple methods of controlling cholesterol.
2. Eat heart-healthy foods
- The choice of food is responsible for increasing or decreasing the level of cholesterol to a great extent. Therefore, changes in diet can be effective to reduce cholesterol levels.
- Take a diet that is low in saturated and trans-fats. It would be much better if you can replace saturated and trans-fats with unsaturated fats.
- Instead of frying, try boiling or baking or roasting.
- Instead of whole milk, use low-fat or non-fat milk, which contains all the nutrients without fats.
- Prefer including the following food items in your meal, which are free from cholesterol:
- Broccoli, raspberries, asparagus, apple (an apple a day can really keep the doctor away- by reducing bad cholesterol levels, especially in women), raw watermelon, raisins, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, potato, mushroom, lettuce, etc.
SOME EASY HOME REMEDIES FOR CONTROLLING CHOLESTEROL
1. Garlic is best known home remedy that decreases the LDL. Eat one clove of garlic daily for reducing cholesterol level. You do not need to chew it. Just swallow it with a glass of water.
2. Sunflower seeds are a good herbal remedy for regulating the cholesterol level.
3. If you have high cholesterol, then curd can be of help to you. (Note: Do not have curd at night.)
4.Coriander seeds are also beneficial for lowering cholesterol level. Boil 2 tea-spoons of coriander seeds in one glass of water. Allow the water to cool and then strain it. Drink it daily for good results.