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World Heart Day 2022: Cholesterol is a waxy molecule that plays several vital roles within the body. For example, our body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin d, and substances that help us digest food. However, if you've too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. This plaque can lead to coronary artery diseases. There are three types of cholesterol:
1. LDL cholesterol It stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is also called the 'bad' cholesterol as it collects in the walls of blood vessels.
2. HDL cholesterol- It stands for high-density lipoprotein. It helps in removing the other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream.
3. VLDL cholesterol- It stands for very low-density lipoprotein. It can lead to heart complications blocking your arteries.
Diet and following a fitness regime can play an essential role in lowering cholesterol. It is crucial to consume nuts for good cholesterol and healthy heart function. Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, fibre, minerals, etc. Consumption of nuts lowers total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, ApoB, triglycerides, and insulin resistance in trials; associated with lower incidence of CHD in prospective studies, and was a keys component of a predominantly Mediterranean diet trail that reduce abdominal obesity and risk of hard Cardiovascular disease endpoints by 30%. While their energy density has raised theoretical concerns about weight gain, nuts are rich in healthy fats, fibre, and phenolics. Long-term observational studies and controlled trials show that nuts and seeds do not promote and may decrease weight gain.
The cardiovascular effects of beans (pulses, edible seeds and legumes) are less established. Like nuts, beans contain bioactive compounds, including phenolics, minerals, and fibre. In many studies, beans intake is inversely associated with total Cardiovascular disease, Coronary artery disease, and incident hypertension, but not significantly with stroke or DM. Trials of soy foods suggest modest improvements in blood cholesterol levels and arterial stiffness; negligible to small effect on other risk factors such as glycemic control, blood pressure, inflammation, and body weight. It is recommended to have nuts in four to five servings a week; each serving should be about 30gm.
Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director & HOD-Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad, shares a list of essential nuts which helps to improve cholesterol and heart health.
Walnuts are made up of 15% proteins and 65% of fat. They are low in carbohydrates. They contain a relatively high amount of omega-3 fat. If you want to reduce your risk of developing coronary artery disease, walnuts are a great addition to your daily diet. These nuts can help fight oxidative damage due to 'bad' LDL cholesterol. They are also beneficial for the bacteria in our gut. They also help in controlling appetite and hunger. In addition, they help in preventing type-2 diabetes. Walnuts contain nutrients that may protect the brain from inflammation damage.
Pistachios offer numerous health benefits. They are high in proteins, rich in antioxidants and low in calories. Eating them can help you feel full for longer if you want to lose or maintain weight. Pistachios can help reduce your chances of developing obesity, a significant risk factor for heart disease. They are a good source of numerous nutrients, like Vitamin B6, which your body needs for nutrient metabolism and immune function. It helps in improving glucose metabolism & lowering cholesterol.
Almonds are known for their versatility. Almonds contain vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre. Almonds have been suggested to lower heart disease risk by lowering total & LDL cholesterol and exerting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. They help in lowering the sugar spikes after meals. Several studies show eating almonds reduces body inflammation. They help in reducing the risk of weight gain & obesity. They can also help in lowering blood pressure levels. They have calcium and phosphorus, which enhance bone health. Soaked almonds have the power to guard you against the risk of developing colon cancer.
Cashews are rich in fibre, low in sugar and heart-healthy fats. They have a crunchy texture and creamy mouthfeel that go well with both savoury and sweet dishes. One can eat them raw, roasted, or as nut butter. They are a good source of several essential nutrients for bone health. They are a rich source of vitamins B & C. In addition, they are packed with mono-unsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, which help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
They contain pinolenic acid, which helps lose weight and are one of the calorie-rich edible nuts. The acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes. In addition, healthy fats, protein, and fibre help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Peanuts contain healthy fats and high-quality protein and are primarily used to make peanut oil. As a result, they help in preventing heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels. In addition, they are a rich fibre source, making them an excellent dietary choice for people with diabetes. They help in reducing inflammation and are also low in carbohydrates.
Pecans are a good source of magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help lower blood pressure. They have heart-healthy benefits. They may also decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers. The antioxidants in pecans have even been known to help slow the ageing process and reduce inflammation in the body.
Macadamia nuts can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which is the number of harmful chemicals in your blood. They also have a low glycemic index. As a result, they improve metabolic syndrome and diabetes. These nuts contain plant compounds called flavonoids, which help in combating cancer. They prevent gaining weight. They are rich in omega-9 mono-unsaturated fatty acids and oleic acid in olive oil.
Apart from munching on these nuts, you should follow a fitness regime to maintain your heart health, including brisk walking, jogging, cycling, yoga, and swimming.
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