Oats: You should have at least three to four servings of whole grains in a day, of which one serving can be of oats. Cook them on a low flame, and consume as porridge, or as a thickening agent in a soup. It can also be added to wheat flour or in your idli/dosa batter.
Top benefit: Oats contain a specific type of soluble fibre that helps lower LDL cholesterol.
Nuts: Being a storehouse of nutrients, nuts are your best bet for a mid-meal snack. Chop and add to your favourite breakfast cereal; or powder and add to milk.
Top benefit: Nuts have a good balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fibre. They are rich in both omega-9 and omega-3 fatty acids which have cardio-protective effect.
Fish: Consume two servings [100 g] twice a week. Enjoy it boiled, baked or grilled rather than fried. Opt for ‘fatty fish’ like herring, tuna, trout, sardine and mackerel.
Top benefit: Fatty fish have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the harmful triglyceride levels and increase the good HDL cholesterol levels.
Garlic: You can have your garlic freshly crushed, sautéed, cooked at a low temperature or raw. Incorporate it in salads, soups or vegetables.
Top benefit: It reduces the lipid content in the arterial wall. And helps dissolve clots which in turn improves blood pressure and heart rate.
Green tea: Sip on three to four cups a day. Make sure you do not brew or over boil.
Top benefit: Green tea contains antioxidants that are 10 times more powerful than black tea. It is also believed to possess anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic [prevents blood clots] properties.
Canola oil: Have one tablespoon a day. Use it when cooking vegetables or pulses, but not for frying or any form of cooking at high temperatures.
Top benefit: Like olive oil, canola oil is low in saturated fat and high in heart friendly fatty acids.
Soy: You need to have about 25g of soy protein daily. It can be in the form of vegetable, tofu, soy milk, nuggets, chunks or flour. Soak and cook well before consumption.
Top benefit: Several components associated with soy protein have been implicated in lowering cholesterol. It makes an excellent protein substitute for red meat, and thus helps reduce the intake of saturated fats.
Whole grains: It is recommended that at least half of your cereal intake should be whole grains, preferably cooked and not fried.
Top benefit: Cereals provide complex carbohydrates, fibre, minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, resistant starch and other useful substances. They help in reducing several risk factors for heart diseases.
Fruits: Along with nuts, fresh fruits are perfect for fighting off mid-meal hunger attacks. Have three to five servings in a day.
Top benefit: Fruits help in weight management and blood pressure control.
Vegetables: Whether as a salad, soup or cooked [stewed/steamed], vegetables are one of the most versatile ingredients. Besides ensuring you have three to five servings a day, make sure each serving is of a different variety and colour.
Top benefit: Vegetables are low calorie foods containing phytochemicals, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Each colour of vegetable provides different additional nutrients, like carrots are rich in alpha carotene, while spinach contains folate, magnesium and potassium.
This was first published in the September 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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