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What can I do to keep my cholesterol levels under check?

Here are expert tips on reducing your cholesterol levels.

Tips to lower cholesterolCholesterol, rather high cholesterol levels have always been a subject of worry for many. One such reader wrote in to us asking about how he can control his cholesterol levels. Here is an in-depth answer by our expert Dr Varun Mallya on exactly what he should do.

My total cholesterol is 239 and LDL is 170, and my other parameters are okay. How to reduce my total cholesterol and LDL? What foods can help me control my cholesterol levels and maintain heart health?As of now I spend 45 minutes walking and jogging.

Answered by Dr Varun Mallya

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Changing your food habits is as essential as getting the right amount of exercise. All you need are a few simple tweaks in your daily diet and exercise regime to help you get your cholesterol levels under control. Here are some tips you might like to include into your lifestyle

1. Olive oil: Switch to olive oil for cooking. Research has shown that the Mediterranean people consume olive oil and have very low incidence of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Olive oil contains a mix of various anti-oxidants which lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). Use it for your tadka or add it as a dressing to salads. Extra virgin olive oils are even more beneficial as they are less-processed and retain more anti-oxidants than the other varieties. Read more about skin and hair benefits of olive oil.

2. Nuts: Walnuts and almonds are rich in omega three fatty acids and PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acids) which help reduce LDL cholesterol and keep the blood vessels healthy. A handful of these nuts (unsalted, unfried) should help. Here are a bunch of articles on various health benefits of different nuts.

3. Oats: Being high in soluble fibre, oats reduce the absorption of cholesterol (Total & LDL) in your blood. Eating 1 cups of cooked oats with milk and bananas or apples gives you your daily requirement of soluble fibre. Here more health benefits of oats.

4. Fish: High in omega 3 fatty acids, it helps increase the levels of the good (or HDL) cholesterol.

It is recommended that you have atleast two servings of Salmon (rawas fish), herring (bhing) or mackerel (bangda) per week. For restricting calories, they are best eaten grilled, shallow fried with very little oil or baked. Read more health benefits of salmon fish.

If you do not eat fish or do not have access to good fish, add ground flax seeds (alsi), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (til), soyabean oil, canola oil to your diet. Omega 3 fatty acid supplements are also available.

5. Garlic: Though the cholesterol lowering effects of garlic has been debated in recent times, it has been shown that allicin in the garlic does help. Read more about foods that can help in reducing cholesterol.

Foods you should avoid:

Avoid processed foods like biscuits, cookies, cakes and fried stuff. Avoid red meat and egg yolk.

Is your exercise regimen good enough?

Just a walk daily isn't enough, as is often recommended. The intensity and the amount of time spent exercising is also very important to have significant beneficial effects. If you have been a sedentary person all your life, you can start with a 45 minute walk but should soon increase the intensity by adding jogging and other forms of cardio exercises to your routine. Try and change some of your sedentary habits walk down the road for shopping, climb those stairs, play football with kids, do your household cleaning yourself. Every calorie you shed counts!

Start your fight against cholesterol today and let us know what your next lipid profile reads.

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