All Things Cholesterol: The good, the bad & the truth

“I will have a packet of cashews!“ I placed my order. My friend who had ordered a can of diet coke for herself was shocked.

“That thing is full of fat and cholesterol! Aren’t you supposed to know that?”

However, I don’t blame her. Over the years, we have been made to believe that nuts are highly loaded with fats and cholesterol.

Yes, all the nuts are naturally fat rich. But are nuts high in cholesterol? And is cholesterol really bad for us? Despite, the negative press cholesterol that this fatty substance often gets, it isn’t entirely bad for us.

Basics of cholesterol.

What is it?

Cholesterol is a substance made in the liver and it is vital to human life. Only animal bodies can produce cholesterol. Thus, you can find it ONLY in humans and animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy.

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Yes, that’s right! There is NO cholesterol in cashews, peanuts, cooking oils etc. So, the next time a cooking oil flashes the below punchline.

XYZ oil – Live healthier, live longer with our 0% cholesterol free oil

Know better to not let your eyeballs drop in the shopping mart aisle anymore.

The liver, other organs, and other cells in your body produce about 75% of the cholesterol in your blood. And, the other 25 % of cholesterol in your body is affected by the foods you eat.

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Since we eat more foods including cholesterol, our liver compensates by reducing its own production of cholesterol and removing excess cholesterol.

We have got natural processes to take care of cholesterol balance in the blood. And we totally disturb this balance and interrupt cholesterol functioning when we chose any “low fat” or “fat-free” products.

What does cholesterol do in our bodies?

Our body uses cholesterol to make a few essential hormones, including:

  • Sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in women, and testosterone in men, which help the sex organs develop and are involved in reproduction.
  • Cortisol, which helps your body respond to stress.
  • Aldosterone, which balances the number of minerals in your body.
  • Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium to strengthen your bones.

So why exactly is cholesterol bad for us? One might think.

The levels of cholesterol in the blood are not the problem but the type of cholesterol is. Cholesterol travels in the blood in packages called lipoproteins, which consist of lipids (fats) and protein. Cholesterol packaged in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad” cholesterol because too much LDL in the blood can lead to cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. LDL carries most of the cholesterol in the blood.

The high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often called “good” cholesterol, is another type of cholesterol package. HDL helps transport cholesterol from other parts of the body to the liver, which helps remove it from the body, preventing it from piling up in the arteries.

The third type of lipoprotein is very low density (VLDL). This package transports triglycerides in the blood; high levels of VLDL and triglycerides can consequently lead to the risk of heart disease.

Some people with normal cholesterol levels get heart attacks while others with high levels do not—  the difference is in the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol, their ratio and chronic inflammation in their bodies.

Inflammation and oxidation are interrelated processes. Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to injury, irritation or infection. It neutralizes harmful micro-organisms, helps repair wounds and cleans up debris. However chronic inflammation is an unhealthy condition which generates a constant supply of harmful free radicals (also called as oxidation) that panics our anti-oxidant defences.

  • We fearfully remove the full-fat milk and egg yolks; replace them with egg whites and low-fat yoghurt or fat-free butter.
  • We don’t get enough antioxidants (to fight oxidation) because we conveniently ditch the bowl of salad and a portion of fruit out of the meal plan.

  • A biscuit packet (full of white flour and sugar) has become our go-to snack.
  • We make all possible excuses to miss the gym session or the jog outside.
  • Pulling an “all nightery” has now become the trend.

Such diet habits and lifestyle adaptations are the major components which are consequently making the cholesterol bad for your body!

Making Cholesterol good by yourself for yourself!

Don’t drink the fruit – eat it!

Drop “juices” (canned) from your grocery list today. Because the processing takes out all the antioxidant from any fruit. And there’s a risk of toxicity due to the high dose of sugar and loads of preservatives, left in the can.

Rather have fresh and whole fruit. Minimize its contact with air and metal to maintain the antioxidant profile.

Manage your type of cholesterol!

Make sure you take dietary measures to control the bad type of cholesterol build up and increase the good type to help your body. Exercise often, eat a heart-healthy diet by including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and oilseeds, etc., maintain a healthy body weight in order to keep your good cholesterol working in your body. Limit the intake of red meat, avoid smoking, choose leaner cuts while picking your meats, avoid organ meat and eliminate trans-fat to keep your LDL in check.

Beauty sleep!

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Sleep is the most powerful tool of our body to keep cholesterol from oxidizing. Sleep is the time when the body uses the antioxidant defence at its maximum to detoxify our body. Good sleep is a great stress manager too. So, don’t underestimate this in-built detoxification process and get your sleep cycle back on track. A good diet and enough exercise are going to be of great help to achieve your sleep goals.

Nuts: small packet of big energy!

Fun fact about cholesterol: plants cannot produce it. So naturally, any plant sources including nuts will not have any cholesterol contents. High time we shift fearlessly to our traditional snacking option- Nuts.

Peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios are in fact good sources of essential fats like MUFA and PUFA. They keep our body from exposing to chronic inflammation.

Get your heart racing!

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We all know that lack of exercise is one of the major factors contributing to illnesses. Now it’s the time to put this piece of knowledge to use. Walk, jog, run, swim, cycle, yoga, pilates anything you like – Just do it! Any exercise which gets your heart racing is going to keep your heart healthy!

So, don’t be a prey to “cholesterol free/ fat-free” media campaigns.

Welcome cholesterol in your meal plans and host it smartly!

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Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveller and a happy yogi.

Are fried foods really bad for you?

The title itself must have grabbed your attention. After all, who doesn’t love eating pakoda, chips, fries or samosa?

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But these delicious dishes are packed with fat, the most-calorie dense nutrient. So, what’s the solution? Learn to eat it the right way.

Frying has always been an integral part of Indian cooking. And not to forget, it can be healthy too.

The whole fad of non –fried samosa is actually bad as it increases the glycemic index of the food as compared to the fried version. You could easily gobble down 2-3 baked samosas thinking the baked versions are good for your health. However, in reality, one fried samosa is far better than 2-3 baked ones.

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Yeah, that’s the bitter truth.

But worry not! Help is at hand. Without much ado, let’s learn the smart way to eat fried.

Pairing and timing:

These two concepts of our PPTF approach should become your best friends if you want to relish fatty foods without worrying about the weighing scale. Once you learn to implement these two concepts, you’ll be able to make every day a cheat day!

Instead of the evening, savour your fatty food early in the morning, when you’re more active and your BMR is at its peak. As a result, fewer calories will get converted into fat.

Let’s say, you are in the mood for a samosa. Our advice is to skip the pav and instead get a protein-rich egg-white omelette or a besan chilla for breakfast along with the samosa. This way, you’ll get all your three pillars of nutrition – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates – in one meal. And btw, restrict yourself to one samosa.

Similarly, you can eat fries made from a medium-sized potato along with grilled paneer and veggies or grilled chicken for lunch or breakfast.

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If you are craving for everyone’s favourite street food – pani puri, go ahead and treat yourself. Just remember, skip the potato and opt for sprouts, chana or ragda filling to balance the nutrients.

Choosing the right oil and cooking style:

Choose the right oil and frying method and the battle is half-won. Groundnut oil is your best bet. With its high smoking point and goodness of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it is the ideal oil for frying.

Cooking fried at home is a trick that always works. You can monitor the quality and quantity of oil. Since frying is a tedious process, this way you’ll only use the frying pan once or twice a month. And yeah, deep frying at a high flame is much better than deep frying at a slow flame since lesser oil will be absorbed.

PS: Shallow frying may seem a healthier alternative, but sometimes, it absorbs more oil than deep frying. So, keep an eye on the oil you use while you shallow fry.

Some frying secrets:

Now, we are sharing some super tricks that will allow you to eat fried foods without any guilt attached:

Control the moisture

If the moisture of a particular food is high, the fat absorption goes double or even triple. So, keep the moisture content in check to ensure that fried foods do not absorb excess oil.

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Let’s say you are preparing batata wada at home. The besan batter has to be of pouring consistency. If you add a lot of water, then the wada will absorb more oil and in turn, make it greasier and fatty. The same rule applies for pakodas.

The ‘magic’ ingredient

A soya-fortified batter is an excellent way to increase the protein content and lower oil absorption. Adding 10% soy flour with wheat flour or 20% soy flour to gram flour batter reduces oil absorption by nearly 20%. Now, that is a smart trick to ‘have your pakoda and eat it too’.

Avoid using fried oil repeatedly for frying

When we reuse oils, its smoking point decreases. This, in turn, leads to higher fat absorption.

Simple steps such as avoiding sodium bicarbonate in the batter or removing your favourite munchie on an absorbent paper will keep the fat in fried foods in check.

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And if you are looking to get some smart recommendations on making nutritionally balanced meal plans then head right to bon happetee app and try the “build my meal” feature in meal suggestions section. Just tell us what you feel like eating and let the app build a complete meal around it. Say no to diet plans, say yes to smart meal plans and lose weight naturally.

Happy eating fried foods from team bon happetee 🙂

content writer - bon happetee diet plan app

Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

Eating at night & weight gain

You are doing everything that you ought to. You stock your kitchen and fridge with greens and vegetables, you supervise the tiniest morsel that goes into your mouth and it’s been months that you have tasted your favourite ice cream or dessert. But, when you weigh yourself at the end of the month, you realize that nothing is working. You have gained weight, yet again! In spite of so many sacrifices.

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Certain night time eating habits sneak into your lifestyle without your knowledge that might play a big spoilsport in your weight loss journey.

Munching in the night. Surely, you wouldn’t have thought of this practice as the reason for your weighty woes, right? But, night time munching is keeping you away from attaining your fitness goals. Let’s understand how this habit is creating havoc with your weight loss.

Ask yourself – Does my dinner look heavier than lunch?

If the answer is a yes, then you need to reduce your portion size at dinner.

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The reason is simple:

We are more active in the morning versus the evening. As our activity levels decrease, your body requires fewer calories. With a heavy dinner, you overload the digestive system, which is winding for the day. It will convert all those extra calories into fat.

So, a king-sized dinner results in a ‘fat hangover’, which makes it far worse than the alcohol one.

However, it’s not just the quantity, but also the food choices at night which cause weight gain.

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Cream-based gravies or soups, fried food, and desserts are difficult to digest. And as the day progresses, digesting these foods becomes tougher.

With nine calories per gram, fat is the most fattening nutrient, whereas sugar in dessert quadruples the calories.

So, the super-healthy chole bhature, paneer paratha or dal makhni and jeera rice which is otherwise nutritionally balanced meals do not make for an ideal dinner. Eating high-calorie meals at night stands among one of the top reasons you’re struggling with the extra pounds.

Now, do you eat dinner late at night, say around 10:30 -11 pm?

If it’s an affirmative, then you’ll have to change your dinner timing.

The earlier you dine, the better it is because you would be less active late in the night. And less activity with a late dinner is a double whammy for your weight gain.

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Staying up late at night increases your chances of munching. It also increases the levels of ghrelin hormone which increases appetite and decreases the levels of leptin hormone aka the satiety hormone.

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Late-night television or internet browsing is often associated with snacking on salty, fried or sugary foods. You wouldn’t even possibly realize you’ve finished a packet of chips or an entire brownie while surfing these gadgets. What’s more is that this habit will create havoc with your sleep pattern. And puff goes your weight loss goal.

So, late dinners and sleeping late at night slim down your chances of getting slim. Fixing a regular sleep and early dinner time is the key to a healthier and lighter you.

  • Some tips that’ll help you break free of these incorrect night-time eating habits:
  • A long interval between lunch and dinner often results in heavy dinner. Grab a wholesome evening snack – grilled sandwich, frankie or idli, sambhar and chutney – to bridge the gap.
  • Don’t watch television while eating dinner. Any distraction during meals increases the chance of overeating.
  • Drinking alcohol is associated with overeating and bad sleep. So, it’s advisable to stay away from booze if you want a good night’s snooze.
  • Try to eat dinner before 9 pm. If that’s not possible, eat a khakhra, roasted makhana or kurmura before you leave from work. Once you reach home, restrict yourself to one chapati/ half a bowl of rice, dal and some vegetable. A light snack before heading back home will keep the portion size in check.
  • Most importantly, don’t skip dinner or only eat soups, salads and fruits. Eat a balanced but light dinner. You’ll wake up happy and fresh the next day. It will clear your bowels and possibly help you shed some kilos along the way!

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  • Stay away from the low-carb and high-protein dinners. As proteins are super difficult to digest, you’ll end up sleeping with a bloated tummy.
  • It’s important to keep the frequency of desserts and fried foods in check. Savour them only on special occasions. And if you can’t control the craving, relish it as a mid-morning snack.
  • Try to walk 1000 steps or sit in vajrasan for five minutes after dinner instead of immediately lying down on the couch or hitting the bed.

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  • Skip the night-time craving for tea, hot chocolate or coffee since their caffeine content affects sleep. A cup of warm milk with cardamom or chamomile tea will induce good sleep.
  • Small habits after you are done with dinner like brushing your teeth immediately or chewing fennel seeds go a long way to keep your weight in check. Read more about this here.

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With a tab on these sneaky habits, we are sure there’s nothing that can keep you away from attaining your weight loss goal.

So, here’s hoping to happy and healthy night-time habits along with a healthier and happier you. 😊

 

content writer - bon happetee diet plan appVishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

7 types of khichdi recipes you must try now

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During childhood, I remember eagerly waiting for an episode of the much-loved family show, Khichdi. This sitcom brings back some wonderful memories when the entire family would enjoy the antics of the oddball Parekh family.

Well, my love for ‘khichdi’ dates back to childhood (pun intended ) And in fact, everyone in India shares a unique bond with khichdi because it is one of the first solid foods served to an infant. A mix of rice, lentils, and veggies cooked with tempered spices, khichdi traces its origin to the Indian subcontinent, to as early as 1350. In colloquial lingo, khichdi is much like its preparation – a mishmash of ingredients.

Every region in India has a unique variant of this dish. Bengal’s khichuri; Haryanvi kichri with bajra and moong dal served with lassi; bisi bele bhat in Karnataka; Hyderabad’s popular breakfast khichdi kheema khatta are some of the popular khichdi varieties.

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As a nutritionist, khichdi is one of my most favorite dishes. Be it sabudana khichdi, moong dal khichdi or bajra khichdi with dollops of ghee – yes, you read it right, ghee! – I am a big khichdi fan. It’s a wholesome meal that appeals to my taste buds and health. While you may agree with me on the health quotient, I can see you frown with my statement – khichdi tastes good.

For most, khichdi is the kind of food you eat when you are unwell. It is quite a bland dish. Yes, moong khichdi is an easy-to-digest meal with an upset tummy or fever but hey, that’s not what khichdi is all about.

Don’t believe me?

Then, go and eat the baked masala khichdi served at Swati Snacks, Tardeo (Mumbai) or Law Garden, Ahmedabad. I am confident your definition of khichdi will change forever. It’s one of those scrumptious dishes that can force me to travel a 2-hour distance from my house in the suburbs to town or make me wait for an hour for my turn!

The mere mention of this has got me hungry… Damn!

And if you are not a Mumbaikar or an Amdavadi, you can try this amazing dish at home.

Anyway, let’s move on to some of the popular variants of this hassle-free and nutritious dish:

With khichdi being traditionally a mix of rice and lentils, we often forget that the delicious sabudana khichdi is also a form of khichdi. Sabudana khichdi and fasting are synonymous. You should dig into this yummy dish whenever you are fasting. The goodness of peanuts balances the glycaemic index of sago and potatoes as well as makes it a wholesome meal.

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But yeah, don’t go overboard with them. Check out how you can make this amazing meal.

 

Vari rice/ bhagar / samak with a bowl of cucumber raita is another super healthy khichdi you can eat when you fast

 

Moong khichdi may not fit in your definition of tasty food, but in Surat, this is a much-loved meal. You’ll love their khichdi served with piping hot kadhi and add-ons like undhia and ringan na ravaiya.

Don’t you feel like savoring a hot piping meal of khichdi with kachumber, curd, and pickle when you come back from a long vacation? Yes, that’s because khichdi is the ultimate comfort or soul food, however humble it may be.

 

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Moong Dal khichdi is a wholesome meal, especially when paired with papad, curd and cucumber

Nutritionally speaking, khichdi and veggies make a balanced meal that reboots your digestive system after eating packaged and restaurant foods. And if you want to add some color to your khichdi, try a palak khichdi. It’s one of the healthiest one-dish meals you’ll eat.

 

So, let’s cook some khichdi at home, what say?

 

Bajra ka khichdi is a popular dish in Rajasthan eaten during winter. Bajra along with ghee keeps your body warm and your skin soft and supple during the sweater weather. You can whip up a lip-smacking bajra khichdi at home.

And if you’re in the mood for some royal food, try the Shahajani khichdi

Now, khichdi created quite a stir recently being declared India’s ‘national dish’. While the Food Ministry refuted the rumors, Twitterati was quick to throw in their views, especially regarding dal, which is a key ingredient of khichdi. They pointed out that labeling a dish made with this expensive ingredient as a ‘national dish’ is sheer absurdity.

That said, we don’t want any more khichdi cooking.

We, at bon happetee, only want you to realize the goodness of khichdi and include it in your diet.

 

 

content writer - bon happetee diet plan appVishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years.

Love food, love life — is her mantra.

You’re in charge of your family’s health

As the woman of the house, you carry a lot of responsibility.Planning, cooking and serving healthy meals stand at the top of the mountain of those responsibilities.And if you have three generations living together or a joint family set-up, meal planning gets tougher. It’s nearly impossible to meet both, the nutritional requirements and please the fussy eaters, isn’t it?

Understanding the uphill task at hand, we, at bon happetee, have a magic wand – easy-peasy tips and tricks. They will take care of your family’s nutrition and make your life simpler.

We can already see the broad smile on your face 😊Now, let’s start unraveling our secrets: Continue reading

The binary way of looking at food: Yeh healthy hai aur yeh nahi

We are a nation of dieters and pursue diet advice given by experts, friends and family, even strangers. We follow the rise and fall of every diet trend and know everything about food and health. But more often than not, we have a fixated approach towards food. Looking at food we are constantly asking ourselves – Is this healthy or not?

Don’t you agree? We all have that inner voice that screams ‘Do not look at it!’ every time we drool over bacon and eggs or an aloo paratha with butter. Why? ‘Well, that is because they are very high in fats’!  You reply. Continue reading

Indulge in street food guilt-free with this guide

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Nutritionally speaking, I know we always talk about how ghar ka khaana being the healthiest food ever. It’s fresh & filled with dollops of maa ka pyaar 😊

But sometimes we crave for something fun and tantalizing that has different flavors from the food we eat at home.

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Bon happetee, encourages you to pamper the foodie in you and presents you with this street food guide, so you can better understand the nutritional value of some of your beloved foods. Continue reading

Have you struck the weight loss plateau?

I often hear my clients mention that they started of on the ‘diet-exercise’ regime quite well and managed to knock off a few kilos. However, after a certain time the pointer on the weighing scale just won’t budge. They are still doing all the right things and pushing even more – but all of a sudden it seems everything stops working!

If you are experiencing something similar, then I am here to inform you that you have struck the dreaded plateau!

Take heart. The weight loss plateau is a normal phenomenon and it strikes pretty much everyone on the weight loss bandwagon. Continue reading

How to relieve gas & stop bloating

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We have all been there, jumping up and down, wriggling, sucking in our breath till that button pops shut, on our otherwise perfectly fitting trouser. Once it’s done, panic sets in! How would you explain it? Something that fits you just a week back now clearly doesn’t!

Well, before jumping to the obvious conclusion, i.e. weight gain, think about bloating! Yes, good old bloating caused by gases. Bloating not only makes you look out of shape but is also accompanied by a lot of physical discomforts.  People normally mistake bloating for fat or water retention, but it’s just gasses causing temporary distension, that everybody faces from time to time.

Please remember that the stomach is not a place where fluids accumulate normally unless it is a complication of any liver or kidney disorder.

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There are very easy ways to keep bloating at bay and to feel great:- Continue reading