Over the years, we’ve changed our lifestyle tremendously to suit our daily needs. This modern lifestyle, of course, comes at a cost. High blood pressure, nutrition deficiency, obesity and high cholesterol levels have become common among young and old alike. Could it be that we’re doing something wrong?
Speaking of Cholesterol, it’s a word that is thrown around a lot in most health specials on TV and articles related to well-being. But how does it affect us?
High cholesterol levels could result in brain blockage, stroke, reduced blood flow, chest pain, heart attack and gallstones, to name a few. Although we cannot control factors like age and family history that determine cholesterol levels, certain lifestyle changes can be implemented to improve cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is used by your body to protect nerves, make cell tissues and produce hormones. You not only obtain cholesterol from your food, it is also produced by your liver. In fact, 75% of the cholesterol your body needs is produced by your liver. The rest 25% comes from the food you eat.
Cholesterol can be broadly classified into good cholesterol (High-Density Lipoprotein/HDL) and bad cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein/LDL). As the name suggests, we need more of the good cholesterol because HDL removes cholesterol from the bloodstream whereas LDL delivers cholesterol to your body.
Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age which is why it is always better to take preventive measures as soon as possible to avoid high cholesterol levels as you age. This is also the reason why children are less likely to have high cholesterol levels unless s/he’s obese or it runs in the family.
For an adult, anything below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered normal cholesterol level. A cholesterol reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high and anything above 240 mg/dL is considered high.
LDL cholesterol levels should ideally be below 100 mg/dL but, for a healthy person, 100 mg/dL-129 mg/dL is also acceptable. Cholesterol levels between 130 mg/dL and 159 mg/dL is considered borderline line and above 160 mg/dL is very high.
Now that we’ve gotten important cholesterol facts under our wings, let us look into what lifestyle changes need to be made to make sure our cholesterol levels don’t stray too far away and we stay fit and healthy.
Include heart-healthy foods in your diet
As already mentioned, 25% of our body’s cholesterol levels are contributed by the food we eat. Hence, it is really important that we take care of our diet.
- Differentiate between good fats and bad fats: We’re so used to associating fats with something negative that not many (I’m guilty of this too) are away about the existence of good fats.
Trans fat and saturated fats that are found in meat, whole milk dairy products, saturated vegetable fats and coconut oil are known to increase low-density lipoprotein a.k.a the bad cholesterol. Always opt for leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and olive oil or canola oil in place of butter. This can be a tough transition and your hands may itch to grab that rich block of cheese at the supermarket but look the other way and you’ll be the happier one.
- Protein sources: Look out for foods like fish, beans, tree nuts, peas and lentils that are high in protein but low in bad cholesterol. Another source of protein that is loaded with good cholesterol is multigrain atta which you can substitute in place of your regular atta. After loads of research, I found the best multigrain atta that my family enjoys just as much as I do. Aashirvaad Atta with Multigrains is an integrated mix of wheat, soya, channa, oats, maize and psyllium husk. It has a very low content of saturated fats and with daily usage, one can keep their cholesterol levels in check. Since we make a lot of rotis in our household, I was ecstatic to find a healthier alternative for the regular atta.
- Soluble fiber: Good sources of fiber like fruits and vegetables, oats, barley, legumes, nuts and seeds should be part of your everyday meals. Interestingly enough, Aashirvaad Atta with Multigrains is also rich in dietary fiber which will help in digestion. It is full of vitamins that boost immunity and make you stronger. Once you start making rotis with this atta, you’ll be left wondering how something so healthy could be so tasty too.
Lose those pounds
If you’ve been thinking about hitting the gym or starting an exercise regimen, no better time than the present because, among the various disorders that overweight or obese people are at a higher risk of developing, high cholesterol levels is one. Try having smaller portions of meals throughout the day and avoid eating every time you’re bored. This will help you more than you think. Losing as little as 5 kgs will result in a drastic change in your overall cholesterol.
Obese kids have increased chances of developing higher cholesterol levels as they grow up. Make sure your child doesn’t eat junk food on a regular basis and stays active throughout the day. For this, you need to feed him something that is healthy, filling and gives the energy to go about the day. Aashirvaad Atta with multigrain is one such option that is enriched with nutrients and minerals that will help keep your little one fit and healthy. So, are you ready to make the switch from regular atta to multigrain atta?
Smoking is linked with high LDL. Once a person quits smoking, the risk of heart disease decreases by 50% within a year. Talk to your doctor about it and come up with a plan as to how you can quit smoking as soon as possible.
Don’t forget to schedule a workout session in your everyday planner. Ideally, you should be engaged in physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Every little thing you do like taking the stairs instead of the lift, going for a 10-minute walk whenever possible or riding a bike to work will contribute towards reducing bad cholesterol in your body.
As moms, we tend to hold our family’s health as the highest priority. You’ll be happy to know that it’s not always the huge, life-altering changes that make an impact on our loved one’s health, small changes like switching up whole milk to skimmed milk, butter to olive oil, regular atta to multigrain atta and so on will have a bigger effect than you think.