Winter can increase the risk of several diseases and health problems, and this is partly due to our sedentary lifestyles during the season, as well as the fact that we eat more high-calorie foods compared to other times of the year. While pakoras, fries and rolls may taste divine with a cup of tea, if consumed regularly, they can wreak havoc with our bad cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance present in the cells of our body that helps in the production of hormones, vitamin D and substances that aid in digestion. However, too much cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries, putting us at risk of heart problems. (Also Read: Easy Tips To Lower Cholesterol Before Christmas Binge)
“With the mercury dropping every day, there is an increased risk of people suffering from high cholesterol in the winter as they become inactive/lazy. The body needs cholesterol to function properly, but high cholesterol levels can lead to fat storage.” (plaque) inside the arteries, which increases the risk of cardiac arrest and stroke. Unhealthy or uncontrolled cholesterol levels can also lead to several other co-morbidities such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm, among others,” says Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Medical Consultant and Senior Director of Internal Medicine, Max Hospital, Gurgaon .
To avoid such health problems, it is important to keep your cholesterol under control.
Dr. Suman Bhandari – Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi shares some useful tips.
1. Continue to practice at home or when the sun is out, one can go out well covered with multiple layers of clothing, a wool hat/muffler for walking and exercise.
2. Avoid excessive fried/high sugar food and instead have fruits and vegetables (at least 4-5 servings) daily. Eat radishes, carrots, etc. as a snack. Adding soluble fiber like Isabgol, leafy greens, eggplant, okra, oats, grains like barley, and whole legumes will also help lower cholesterol.
3. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and goodies like ice cream, sweets, gajak, rewari, cake, biscuits etc.
4. Avoid red meat like mutton, pork, lamb and eat fish and chicken instead.
5. Avoid pakoraspotato chips, onion rings, too many eggs.
6. Avoid excessive drinking or smoking.
7. Foods (margarine and granulated bars) fortified with 2 g of plant steroid can reduce LDL by 10%.
8. Omega-3 supplements as fatty fish can lower triglycerides and replace red meat.
9. Consumption of soy milk (2 and a half cups) or tofu 25g can lower LDL by 5-6%.
10. Nuts: Eating even 2 ounces of nuts a day, such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, can lower LDL by up to 5%, among other heart-healthy factors.
“Reduce your intake of saturated fat or trans-fat. One of the most common causes of bad cholesterol is the food we eat. Reducing your intake of saturated fat can go a long way in controlling your cholesterol during the winter,” says Dr. Shukla
“Overweight people are much more likely to suffer from bad cholesterol levels, so it’s important to reduce and maintain body weight. A smarter way to prepare heart-healthy food at home is to use a zero-oil cooking method. Oil is known to be harmful to the human body in the long run and there are many misconceptions among the general public that adding oil means adding flavor to food. The same taste of food can be achieved without the use of oil. Reducing the consumption of oil will not be harmful to the body because it is already present inside in the form good cholesterol,” adds Dr Shukla.
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