Know your Fats  


Cholesterol is present in all animal fat like cream of milk, butter, ghee, cheese, paneer, egg yolk, meats and poultry. It is also manufactured in the body from saturated fats like coconut, dalda, vanaspati, etc. Large consumption of any of the above fats will increase the cholesterol levels in the blood. Cholesterol levels above 170 are in the danger zone and precautions have to be taken immediately. This cholesterol in the blood will stick to the walls of the arteries and cause blocking of the blood vessels, which will lead to a heart attack.

Triglyceride is another fat in the blood. It is the simplest form of storage fat. All excess amounts of oil and carbohydrates like rice, bread, etc. as well as excess sugar or alcohol is converted to triglyceride. South Indians consuming large amounts of rice are prone to this. Among the men I have seen those mainly from Andhra Pradesh show a great tendency to high triglyceride and they are big rice eaters too. Also those consuming high amounts of alcohol exhibit the same problem. Triglyceride too can be deposited on the walls of the arteries causing blocks and heart attack. Levels above 150 are dangerous.

HDL, LDL & VLDL are actually fat carriers or vehicles used to transport cholesterol & triglyceride from the liver to the rest of the body.

HDL is called the good cholesterol because its work is to carry cholesterol away from the heart towards the liver. The level should be above 40mg/dl. If heart disease problem runs in the family, the HDL levels may be even below 30 mg/dl. The only way to raise this is to do very, regular walking, ideally 20-30 minutes morning and 20-30 minutes evening. Besides this one must eat plenty of fiber namely atta, ragi, bajra and jowar products instead of rice and maida and also eat salad 1-2 cups both at lunch and dinner. Pulses like channa, rajma, and sprouted moong are also very useful. These tips are important to lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL and VLDL too.

LDL is the transporter of cholesterol towards the heart and other parts of the body. Levels higher than 120-150 are dangerous. VLDL is the transporter of triglyceride from the liver to rest of the body. Its levels should not be above 40mg/dl.

To reduce or control lipid levels in the body, please note that it is not a question of the kind of fat you are eating but a question of reducing total fat consumption in the diet. Milk cream, butter, ghee, paneer, cheese, etc. must be stopped completely. Only skimmed milk and curds made from skimmed milk must be consumed. All nuts must be completely avoided, coconut, walnut and every nut must be avoided completely. Bakery items like pastries, cookies, puffs have to be stopped as they contain saturated fats like vanaspati, margarine, etc. Only 2-3 teaspoon oil, groundnut, til, saffola, etc may be used daily for seasoning food. All deep fried foods must be avoided. All sweets, desserts, chocolates, ice creams, etc. must stop too. This sounds hard but the principle is to completely cut out these fatty foods for 2-3 months till the levels in the blood come to normal. After that you may eat these forbidden foods once or twice in a week. If you ever start eating them on a daily basis or on consecutive days, the levels will go up again.

For lowering triglyceride and VLDL total fat in the diet must be lowered besides this strictly measured quantities of rice and rice items must be consumed. Try to eat rice along with dry chapatti (phulka) at lunch, eg 1-cup rice plus 2 phulka instead or 2 cups rice alone.At dinner eat only phulkas and avoid rice. For breakfast don’t eat rice items daily idli, pongal, lime rice, etc. Use ragi dosa, stuffed chapatti, and whole wheat bread as alternatives. Besides this don’t eat too many sweets, fruit juices and alcohol. One large whisky, rum, brandy or one glass beer / wine, are approximately equal to 7 teaspoons sugar, which will be converted to triglyceride. Your heart and life are in your hands. Please handle with care.

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