Winters can increase the risk of various ailments and health problems and this is partly due to our sedentary lifestyle during the season and also to the fact that we tend to eat more high-calorie foods than in other seasons. While pakoras, fries and sandwiches taste heavenly with a cup of tea, such foods, if eaten regularly, can wreak havoc on our bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance present in our body’s cells that helps make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help with digestion. However, too much cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries and put us at risk for heart problems. (Also Read: Easy Tips To Lower Cholesterol Before Christmas)
“With the mercury decreasing every day, there is an increased risk of people suffering from high cholesterol by becoming inactive/lazy during the winter season. The body needs cholesterol to function properly, but high cholesterol can lead to the development of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest and stroke. Unhealthy or uncontrolled levels of cholesterol can also lead to several other comorbidities such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms,” says Dr. Ashutosh Shukla, medical advisor and senior director of internal medicine Max Hospital, Gurgaon.
It is important to control your cholesterol levels to prevent such health problems.
Dr. Suman Bhandari – Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi shares some useful tips.
1. Keep exercising at home or if there is sun outside, one can step outside well covered with several layers of clothing, wool hat / muffler for walks and workouts.
2. Avoid overly fried/sugary foods and instead eat fruits and vegetables (at least 4-5 servings) per day. Eat radish, carrot etc as a snack. Adding soluble fiber such as Isabgol, leafy greens, eggplant, okra, oats, grains such as barley and whole legumes will also help lower cholesterol.
3. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and treats like ice cream, candy, gajak, rewari, cake, cookies etc.
4. Avoid red meat such as mutton, pork, lamb and eat fish and chicken instead.
5. Avoid pakoraschips, onion rings, too many eggs.
6. Avoid excessive drinking or smoking.
7. Foods (margarine and granola bars) enriched with 2 grams of plant steroids can lower LDL by 10%.
8. Omega-3 Supplements such as oily fish can reduce triglycerides and replace red meat.
9. Consuming soy milk (2 and a half cups) or tofu 25gm can reduce LDL by 5-6%.
10. Nuts: Eating even 2 ounces of nuts per day, such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, can lower LDL by up to 5%, among other heart-healthy factors.
“Reduce the intake of saturated fats or trans fats. One of the most common reasons for bad cholesterol levels is due to the foods we eat. Reducing the intake of saturated fats can go a long way in controlling cholesterol levels during winter,” says Dr. Shukla.
“Overweight people are much more likely to suffer from bad cholesterol levels, which makes it important to reduce and maintain body weight. A smarter way to make heart healthy foods at home is to use the cooking method without oil .Oil is known to be harmful to the human body in the long run and there is a lot of misconception among the general public that adding oil means adding flavor to the food.The same taste of the food can be achieved without the use of oil will not harm the body because it is already present inside in the form of good cholesterol,” adds Dr. Shukla please.
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