If you are reading this, you are undoubtedly concerned about your health and the impact cholesterol can have on it especially with your diet. You have effectively taken a critical first step in the right direction.
The desire for speed and convenience in the 21st century has given fast food a permanent place in the diet of the average adult. One major consequence of this habit is an increase in cholesterol levels. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as dairy products and red meat, can also pose a problem.
Ideally, your body needs some cholesterol to function properly. However, when there’s too much cholesterol in the blood, it puts one at greater risk for heart disease. The good news is that high cholesterol can be managed and fixed by making a few diet and lifestyle changes.
What is cholesterol really?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and in your cells. Your liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body. The rest comes from the foods you eat.
Why does cholesterol matter?
Because cholesterol is a substance that circulates in the blood, the risk to your health grows as the level of cholesterol in your blood grows. High cholesterol raises the risk of cardiovascular disorders including heart disease and stroke. That is why it is essential to have your cholesterol checked so that you are aware of your levels.
There are two types of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and HDL (the good kind). Too much of the bad kind, or not enough of the good kind, can increase the risk of cholesterol build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed blood to the heart and brain.
This cholesterol build-up combines with other substances to form a thick, hard lining on the inside walls of the arteries, making them narrower and less flexible to transport blood and nutrients around. If one of these restricted arteries gets blocked by a blood clot, it may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How can healthy diet help?
You can effectively eat your way out of cholesterol dangers by eating a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will go a long way in bringing cholesterol levels under control. That being said, here are some healthy gourmet meals for cholesterol control that you can add to your menu:
Fruit Fusion Oatmeal Bowl – Oatmeal is great for cholesterol control because it contains soluble fibre which is scientifically proven to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. A single bowl of breakfast oatmeal can contain between 3 to 5 grams of soluble fibre. To manage cholesterol, it’s advisable to use rolled oats or steel-cut oats rather than the highly processed quick oats. Rolled oats have been steamed and rolled to make them easier to cook while steel-cut oats haven’t been processed at all. Adding fruit to your oatmeal will increase the fibre content and make it even healthier.
Spicy Bulgur Jambalaya Jollof – Bulgur is made by boiling, drying, and grinding kernels of wheat. It is a great substitute for rice because it has more than twice the fibre content and is also more nutritious. A cup of cooked bulgur contains 8.8 grams of fibre and it is completely cholesterol-free. Jambalaya is a Creole dish traditionally made with rice, meat and pork sausages while Jollof is a rice dish popular in West Africa made with vegetables, spices and meat. To make this meal healthier, you can use Bulgur instead of rice, and chicken, turkey and shrimp instead of red meat.
Chicken & Spinach Skillet Pasta – This chicken and pasta meal mixes lean chicken breast and sautéed spinach with garlic, lemon essence, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. It is a low-calorie meal with soluble (good) fats and proteins without the looming hazards of cholesterol, as cooking with lemons has been scientifically demonstrated to lower LDL cholesterol in meats in particular. Garlic is also good in terms of lowering bad cholesterol and boosting blood circulation. Although conventional pasta is nutritious enough, try spaghetti made with brown rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, and other grains for a healthier result.
Managing cholesterol is not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you eat it. So try to make substitutions where necessary and use as many natural ingredients as possible to make your meals healthy and tasty too.