If you have high cholesterol, then you have probably tried various exercise and slimming regimens to control it and bring it within the healthy range. After all, most of the articles that you read about managing cholesterol levels tell you that physical activity is the best way to lower them. But you become frustrated when, despite all your efforts, the results are not good enough, and your cholesterol levels continue to remain high.
That’s because exercise alone will not give you the best results when it comes to lowering your blood pressure levels. Diet plays an indispensable role, especially fibre. A study conducted by nutritionists and scientists at the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation of India has found that by just adding 3 grams of fibre to your daily food for a month, you can reduce your cholesterol by 8%.
The study included 80 participants, of which 40 ate fibre-rich food and the remaining 40 ate regular food. After 28 days of including just 3 grams of fibre in the diet of the first group, there was a reduction of 8% in their total cholesterol levels and 11% in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.
The science behind how fibre reduces cholesterol and LDL levels
We mainly obtain fibre from plant sources. Fibre cannot be broken down entirely in the human digestive system, but it can make you feel fuller, thus, ensuring that you eat fewer calories.
We get two different types of fibres from our food — soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre is referred to as ‘roughage’ and adds bulk to aid bowel movement. But it is a soluble fibre that plays a real role in helping your body battle high levels of cholesterol. Soluble fibre works by blocking the absorption of fats in the body. It literally stops your blood from taking up the cholesterol you have consumed.
Which foods can give you the required amounts of soluble fibre?
Here is a list of foods you can incorporate in your daily meals to get your additional requirement of fibre:
Apples and oranges: One medium apple and one medium orange along with your breakfast is a great start. You could get all the required 3 grams in one go.
Blackberries and pears: Half a cup of blackberries (shahtoot) and one medium pear add up to 3 grams of soluble fibre. Have them as a snack during the day or as a dessert after lunch.
Peaches and plums: One medium peach and two medium plums give you the necessary amount of soluble fibres. You can have these fresh fruits at breakfast with some toasted bread, or by themselves.
Kidney beans: Half a cup of cooked rajma can do wonders for you. Besides, it’s a staple Indian food that we all love.
Lentils and carrots: One cup of cooked dal (yellow, green or orange) and half a cup of cooked carrots could also give you your 3 grams of soluble fibre.
Prunes: Half a cup of prunes – dried plums – are also an excellent daily source of fibre. They are readily available in stores.
Bananas: These are the easiest option. Eating three medium-sized bananas will not just make you feel full for two to three hours, but also give you all the soluble fibre you need for the day.
All of these foods are easily available, so getting your required amount of soluble fibre is not a problem. In fact, many of these foods are already an integral part of the regular Indian diet, such as dal. All you need to do is make a conscious effort to include them in your meals, keeping in mind that it’s for your health.
Foods that help your body control your cholesterol levels are not limited to this list, though. There are many other foods that are equally effective, and that you can include in your diets, such as avocado, passion fruit, guava, watermelon, kiwi, and durian.
One of the best ways to combat rising cholesterol levels is having half a cup of oats every day. You can pair it with any of the fruits mentioned above for a healthy breakfast that makes a great start to your day.
- Gulati S, Misra A, Pandey RM. Effects of 3 g of soluble fiber from oats on lipid levels of Asian Indians – a randomized controlled, parallel-arm study. Lipids Health Dis. 2017;16:71. doi: 10.1186/s12944-017-0460-3.
- U.S. Department of health and human services. Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with TLC. 2005 Jan [updated 2005 Dec; cited 2019, Jul 10]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/chol_tlc.pdf.
- Acham IO, Ahemen SM, Ukeyima MT, Girgih AT. Tropical fruits: bioactive properties and health promoting benefits in chronic disease prevention and management. AFSJ. 2018;3(1);1-13. doi: 10.9734/AFSJ/2018/4185