Indian diet for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride level
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You must be confused – what are the cholesterol-reducing foods, what can be your zero cholesterol diet, can I eat egg, is millet good for reducing cholesterol, etc. Here is the detailed Indian diet guide to reducing cholesterol and triglyceride. Read the blog till the end to find what are the best and worst Indian foods from different categories to control cholesterol, triglyceride.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride – What to eat and what not to?

A healthy, balanced diet requires a variety of foods to ensure supplying all the nutrients. More or less, there are 13 categories of food you consume on a daily basis –

  • Grains –  rice, roti, poha, murmura, oats etc
  • Pulses / legumes –  dal, sprouts, sattu, besan etc
  • Vegetables  – green leafy vegetables, potato, yam, carrot, gourds etc
  • Fruits
  • Milk and it’s products – paneer, curd etc
  • Fish/ Chicken/ Meat
  • Egg
  • Nuts and seeds –  cashew, peanut, almonds, flaxseed etc
  • Spices
  • Sugar
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Water

If you have detected with high cholesterol level, you must be scared of getting heart disease. People look for low cholesterol or zero cholesterol foods in the diet to improve health.  So the question is these categories of foods good for you or not?

Avoid sugar as much as possible to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride

Dietary cholesterol, blood cholesterol, and heart disease – Is there any connection?

We often portray cholesterol as a villain. But you may be surprised to know that cholesterol is one of the most essential building blocks of our body. Cholesterol is a waxy material that is present in every single cell membrane. We need it every day for multiple physiological functions like making hormones, vitamin D, etc.

What is lipid profile?

You may have associated high cholesterol with all possible heart disease. In reality, it’s not cholesterol but the lipoprotein which plays the role.  Lipoprotein is the structure made with protein and lipid (fat) which carry cholesterol from one part to another part of the body.

When you check your lipid profile you get to see the parameters like – LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), HDL (high-density lipoprotein, VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), triglyceride, etc.

LDL cholesterol may not be always bad

LDL comprises 60-70% of the total lipoprotein in the body. VLDL and LDL are considered as “bad cholesterol” as it has been linked to clogging of arteries and heart disease. LDL carries cholesterol throughout the body. (1)

There are small and large LDL particles in our blood. Study shows that people having more small dense LDL particles are at the bigger risk of developing heart disease compared to those with more large LDL particles. In fact, People having more large LDL, are at lower risk of heart disease. (2)

However, a recent study shows, it’s more of the number of LDL particles than the size which makes the difference. It’s measured as LDL particle number or LDL-P. Higher the number means greater the risk of having heart disease.

As you are already aware that HDL is the “good cholesterol” as they pick cholesterol particles from the body and takes it to the liver.(3)

How bad is triglyceride?

Indian diet for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride level - avoid white flour

Triglyceride is a type of fat.

After eating, the food gets digested, metabolized, and releases energy which makes us staying active the whole day. But if you don’t utilize the calorie which has been produced after your meal, it gets converted to triglyceride and stored in your fat cells for later use.

High triglyceride level in blood is linked to heart disease. So having too much of it is not good for you.

Dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol are not always related  

Having a high cholesterol diet does not always mean you will have high blood cholesterol. Surprised? Yes, it may look like that but the reality is different. Your body strictly regulates blood cholesterol levels by controlling cholesterol production.

When you consume high cholesterol diet, your body reduces cholesterol production. Similarly, if you are taking a low cholesterol diet, the body will increase cholesterol production. For 60% of the population dietary cholesterol does play not much role in regulating blood cholesterol.(4) (5) (6)

However, there are about 40% of people for whom high cholesterol diet increases the blood cholesterol level for some genetic reason. Please note, it has been the seed that high cholesterol diet generally increases the large LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol but not the small LDL – the actual bad cholesterol. (7) (8)

Dietary cholesterol and heart disease may not have any link

It has been seen that only dietary cholesterol has hardly any link with developing heart disease. However it makes a negative impact when combined with inflammation, smoking, high blood pressure, oxidative stress etc.

Do you need to avoid high cholesterol food to reduce blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease?

It has been seen many high cholesterol foods are very nutritious, eg – egg, fish oil, full-fat milk, etc. Therefore, avoiding such food means losing out on quality nutrition. (7) (8)

 How to reduce high blood cholesterol and triglyceride through Indian diet?  

If you are overweight, losing your extra weight is the simplest way to fix your cholesterol and triglyceride level. You must stop going mad after high cholesterol food or zero cholesterol food. A simple, balanced, wholesome diet with little calorie restriction is going to be most effective for you.

As mentioned before, let’s try to incorporate all the 13 categories of foods as much as needed and plan to eat smart.  Here are the ways to add them for losing weight and controlling the blood parameters better.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 1 – Don’t be afraid to add grain in diet for energy

Oats are great for reducing triglyceride and cholesterol in Indian diet

Choose the whole grain over its refined version. Since weight loss is one of the main focuses for overweight patients, consider controlling the grain consumption. Distribute the grain intake throughout the day like in breakfast, lunch, and evening snacks and in dinner.

Table 1: Grain and grain products for patients with high cholesterol and triglyceride level

Foods to eatFoods to restrictFoods to avoid
Semi polished rice
Parboiled rice
Brown rice
Murmura
Poha
Kheel/ khoi
Makhana
Corn
Whole wheat flour (atta)
Dalia
Suji
Sabudana
Ragi
Jowar
Bajra
Buckwheat
Other millets
Quinoa
Oats
Noodle
Pasta
Bread
Red rice
Black rice  
Refined flour (Maida)
Biscuits
Cookies
Confectionaries
Instant noodles
Instant oats
Instant pasta

Whole grains are good for you as they are rich in fiber. But digesting fiber is not always easy for everyone. So, if you suffer from acidity, indigestion, bloating, gas, stomach ache, etc often, you should avoid a very high fiber diet.

Pick neither too much fiber nor too little. For example, instead of choosing instant oats, steel-cut oats, try rolled oats, replace white rice or brown rice with semi-polished rice –  to bring a balance in the fiber content of the daily diet.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 2 – Dal is a great way to improve the diet quality.

Include soybean in diet to control cholesterol and triglyceride in Indian diet

Legumes/ pulses are very nutritious for many reasons. They are a rich source of protein, a good source of carbs, and other vitamins and minerals. Dal contains a decent amount of soluble as well as insoluble fiber. In India, we have more than 65000 varieties of dal.

There is no particular dal that will give you any additional benefits to fix the blood parameters. Bring variety in your dal selection. Try to consume at least 5-6 types of dal in a week. This will help you to get the benefits of it without getting the side effects. Feel free to add yellow moong, green moong, masoor, tur, kulthi, rajma, chana, soybean, chole, lobia, matar dal, and their countless varieties in the diet.

Don’t forget to soak the dal for at least 5-6 hrs. Soaking helps to remove the anti-nutritional factors and make dal nutrients more available to your body. If you are someone who often experiences gas, bloating after having dal, soaking is a must for you.

You can also consider adding sprouts, sattu, besan, etc pulse products to your diet.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 3 – Add plenty of vegetables in diet

greens are great for heart health

Just like dal, add variety to your vegetable selection. There are generally 3 types of vegetables available in the Indian market –

  • Green leafy vegetables – methi, spinach, amaranth, variety of local greens etc
  • Roots and tubers – potato, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot, radish, yam, turnip,
  • Other vegetables – Variety of gourd, pumpkin, ladies finger, kundri, tomato, drumsticks, egg plant etc

You have to make sure that you consume vegetables from all the 3 categories regularly.

Eat vegetables in cooked as well as in raw form to get their optimal benefits. Make sabzi following the traditional recipes. Consider having few vegetables raw in the form of salad or smoothie to get the active enzymes and micronutrients. These are very rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers. So you have enough reason to include them in your diet without any second thought.

Don’t consume packaged vegetable juice or vegetable instant soup available in the market.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 4 – Practice consuming fruits every day –

Don’t be afraid to consume sweet fruits like banana, mango, sapota, custard apple, etc for weight loss. Consume 2-3 fruits a day but don’t overdo it.

If you have 5-6 mangos in a day during summer, that may not be acceptable. However, having one mango is fine. Try to consume one citrus fruit –  amla, lemon, mosambi, orange, grapefruit, etc every day as per the season. Papaya, pears, ber, jamun, apple, watermelon, muskmelon, etc can be the choice for the second fruit per day.

Avoid making a fruit juice. Have fruit as a whole to ensure consuming the fiber. Say no to packaged fruit juices no matter whatever the advertisements claim.   

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 5 – Milk and milk products are fine in moderation –

Fruits and low fat milk are great for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride in Indian diet

Unless you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, avoiding milk just doesn’t make any sense. Full fat milk contains saturated fat. However, we can’t restrict milk’s nutritive value only to this. It’s a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals also. To balance it out, try consuming double-toned milk or skimmed milk and its product.  

A glass of milk (approx 250 ml) can easily be part of your daily diet. If you find difficulty digesting milk, try milk products like curd, buttermilk as mid-morning/ afternoon snacks or to finish lunch.  

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 6 – Fish/ chicken / meat can be added as a part of meal –

Fish/ meat/ chicken are great sources of first-class protein, vitamins, and minerals. Even if you have high cholesterol and triglyceride level, a moderate amount of fish/ chicken can be a part of your regular diet.

Having a medium piece of fish or 3-4pieces of chicken is fine for a day.

Red meat consumption needs to be more restricted, may be taken once or twice a month in limited amounts. Try to choose the lean part of the meat/ chicken.

Try to bring variety to your fish plate. You may consume small to medium size fish for 3-4 days and large fatty fish for 2 days a week. It’s a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.

The problem arises when you go beyond your limit and start overconsuming. Avoid having processed meat like sausage, salami, etc.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 7 – Relax, you can have egg !

egg is fine even if you have high lipid profile

Egg especially egg yolk is always under controversy with its cholesterol content. However recent study suggests dietary cholesterol has hardly any link with blood cholesterol level.

Therefore having a whole egg in a day is absolutely fine even if you have high cholesterol and triglyceride level. Don’t just think of cholesterol when it comes to egg yolk. It also contains a good amount of vitamin A, D, E, and other essential minerals.

So stop throwing the egg yolk and also don’t start consuming 3-4 whole eggs every day. Remember, the egg is just a part of your diet along with other foods from the rest 12 categories.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 8 – Nuts and seeds are essential for heart health

Excess triglyceride is bad for you and increases the risk of heart disease. But omega -3-fatty acid is the savior. Remember, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids for maintaining the overall health of especially heart and brain. You can’t miss them. The modern diet is loaded with omega 6 fatty acids but lacks in omega 3.

We must maintain the omega 6: omega 3 ratios to 1:1 to 4:1. But it has been found that the diet people generally consume, contains a ratio of 15: 1 to 20: 1. Needless to say, we need more omega 3 fatty acids.

Nuts and seeds are wonderful sources of omega 3. Flaxseed and walnuts are one of the best sources one can add to a daily diet. Don’t forget to soak (overnight) or roast (in medium flame for 20 minutes) the flaxseed and walnuts to eliminate the anti-nutritional factors. If you are a vegetarian, you must include these without fail.

Apart from these, you can also consider adding almond, pistachio, cashew, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, sunflower seeds to your daily diet. These are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which helps to reduce the LDL level and increase the HDL level.

Again let me remind you, don’t overdo this. One fistful of nuts and seed mixture (soaked or roasted) is enough to give you the health benefits. Otherwise, these are high in calories. If you are trying to lose weight, calorie restriction should be one of your targets.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 9 – Spices can be the game changer

Coriander is good for improving lipid profile

Indian spices are very powerful to fix your lipid profile. Consider adding bay leaves, black pepper, ajwain, clove, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic, methi, nutmeg, onion in regular cooking.  These spices help to reduce the blood and liver cholesterol level by enhancing the cholesterol conversion into bile acid.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 10 – Make distance with excess salt

Salt is essential for regular cooking. But excess salt creates water retention in the body and increases blood pressure. Since weight loss is your prime goal to fix cholesterol levels, you got to be very careful with your salt consumption.

WHO suggests limiting salt intake to 1 tsp per day. Try to limit it by avoiding packaged and processed food. Salty processed foods like instant noodles, instant pasta, soup, bhujia, mixture, salad dressing, sauce, etc contain enormous amounts of salt which give you 4 to 5 times more salt than WHO recommendation.

Try to mix iodized salt and rock salt in a 1:1 ratio for regular consumption. This will help to reduce the sodium content to some extent.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 11 – Excess sugar is your biggest enemy

Let’s face it. Most of us have sugar cravings and we are sugar addicts. Sugar gives you nothing but empty calories and also disturbs your gut health.

Try to have not more than 1 tsp of sugar to satisfy the craving. I know it sounds impossible but you got to restrict yourself.

Avoid having sweets, confectionaries, cola drinks, soft drinks, biscuits, cookies, and any other packaged foods. Don’t fall into the trap of “zero sugar” or “no sugar” products. There are 64 names of sugar that are to be avoided.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 12 – Use oil, ghee and other cooking medium wisely

Avoid using refined oil to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride in indian diet

It is needless to say that you have to control oil, ghee consumption in your daily diet. Avoid having fried foods or other ready-to-cook fried products.

Change your cooking oil. Stop using refined oil and shift to cold-pressed or filtered or kachhi ghani oil for Indian cooking. Choose your oil as per your tradition. Kachhi ghani mustard oil, double-filtered groundnut oil or sesame oil, or coconut oil is good choices.

Don’t make the mistake of using olive oil for Indian cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is great for heart health and fixing lipid profile but that can only be used in salad dressing or for the light tossing of foods.

You need a good combination of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated oil for better cholesterol and triglyceride profile. Add 1 tsp of ghee in lunch or dinner to strike the balance.

Avoid hydrogenated fat, trans-fat-containing foods. Most of the packaged food contains cheap hydrogenated oil or refined oil. So now you have one more reason to avoid packaged food. Be careful of outside food as they use vanaspati (hydrogenated oil) for cooking.

Indian diet to reduce cholesterol & triglyceride : Tip 13 – Water is your best friend

We talk about diet and often forget about water. Try to drink 2-3 liters of water daily. Don’t forget that weight loss can fix your lipid profile. So you need to restrict your food intake to some extent.

We often get confused between thirst and hunger. So whenever you feel like eating something, try to drink some water.

Don’t miss exercise

Stay active throughout the day. If you are sitting for a long, get up and take a small walk. Exercise regularly. Do any form of exercise that you enjoy. Exercise helps a lot to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride level.

Bottom line

Low cholesterol or zero cholesterol food does not work to reduce your cholesterol level. If you are overweight, reducing 5-10% of weight makes a huge improvement in lipid profile. A healthy balanced diet will help you to lose some weight which will eventually fix your problem. Follow the tips mentioned above for the Indian diet to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride level. Stay focused.

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administrator
Dr. Soma Chakrabarty has done her Ph.D. in Food and Nutrition in 2017. She is based in Hyderabad. She has 12 yrs of working experience in nutrition. Dr. Soma guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve the goal of wellness. She believes in a sustainable diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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