Winters can increase risk of several ailments and health conditions and it’s partly due to our sedentary lifestyle during the season and also the fact that we eat high-calorie food more often as compared to other seasons. While pakoras, fries, bread rolls may taste heavenly with a cup of tea, if eaten regularly such foods can wreak havoc with our bad cholesterol levels or LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Cholesterol is a waxy substance present in the cells of our body that aids in making hormones, vitamin D and substances that help in digestion. However, too much cholesterol can lead to deposition of plaque in our arteries and put us at risk of cardiac trouble. (Also read: Easy tips to reduce cholesterol before Christmas binge)
“With the mercury declining every passing day, there is an increased risk of people suffering from high cholesterol due to becoming inactive/lazy during the winter season. The body needs cholesterol to function properly but high levels of cholesterol can lead to development of fatty deposits (plaque) inside the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiac arrests and strokes. Unhealthy or uncontrolled levels of cholesterol can also lead to several other co-morbidities like chronic kidney diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, and irregular heart rhythms among several others,” says Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Medical Advisor & Senior Director Internal Medicine Max Hospital, Gurgaon.
It is important to keep your cholesterol levels in control to avoid such health issues.
Dr. Suman Bhandari – Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi shares some useful tips.
1. Continue to exercise at home or when there is sun outside, one can step outside well covered with multiple layers of clothes, woollen cap/muffler for walks and workouts.
2. Avoid excessive fried/high-sugar food and instead have fruits and vegetables (at least 4-5 serving) per day. Eat radish, carrot etc as a snack. Adding soluble fibre like Isabgol, leafy vegetables, eggplant, okra, oats, grain like barley and whole pulses will also help reduce cholesterol.
3. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and treats like ice cream, sweets, gajak, rewari, cake, cookies etc.
4. Avoid red meat like mutton, pork, lamb and eat fish and chicken instead.
5. Avoid pakoras, potato chips, onion rings, too many eggs.
6. Avoid excessive drinking or smoking.
7. Foods (margarine and granula bars) fortified with 2 gm of plant steroid can reduce LDL by 10%.
8. Omega-3 supplements like fatty fish can reduce triglycerides and substitute red meats.
9. Consuming soy milk (2 and half cups) or tofu 25gm can reduce LDL by 5-6%.
10. Nuts: Eating even 2 ounces of nuts per day like almonds, walnuts, peanuts can reduce LDL by upto 5% in addition to other heart healthy factors.
“Reduce intake of saturated fats or trans fats. One of the most common reasons of bad levels of cholesterol is due to the food we eat. Reducing the intake of saturated fats can go a long way in controlling cholesterol levels during winters,” says Dr Shukla.
“Overweight people are much more prone to suffering from bad levels of cholesterol, making it important to cut down and maintain one’s body weight. A smarter way for making heart healthy food at home is to use the zero-oil cooking method. Oil is known to be harmful for the human body in the long run and there is a lot of misconception among the general public that adding oil means adding flavour to the food. The same food taste can be achieved without the use of oil. Lowering the consumption of oil won’t be harmful for the body as it is already present inside in the form of good cholesterol,” adds Dr Shukla.