With the Christmas around the corner, can you eat, drink and be merry while holding cholesterol at bay? MH shows you how a slight change in diet can help to keep cholesterol at arm’s length.
WORDS RACHEL LIM
The table was laden with festive Christmas treats. So how can you keep the cholesterol at bay?
Home “Sweet” Home
Christmas is a season of house visits to friends and relatives. While it is impossible to anticipate the degree of sinfulness of the food temptations you might be exposed to while out on your travels, it is totally possible to control the goodies served at your own home.
Bibi Chia, principal dietician, Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre, suggests that when you host, consider home-baking the cookies. This way, you have control over the amount of cholesterol, saturated fat, salt and sugar that goes into the festive goodies. Omit the shortening and palm oil, reduce the amount of sugar, sodium and butter in your recipes. Opt for whole grain flour instead of plain flour, mix in oats, flaxseeds and dried fruits. Also, you can serve clean alternatives to traditional festive goodies for your guests. For example, replace peanuts (which are high in monounsaturated
fat) with a mix of unsalted almonds, raw cashew nuts and ground nuts. You can be sure that your guests will be so thankful to you for the break from unhealthy indulgences!
Chia stresses the importance of practising mindful eating and portion control. A nibble of some cake, ham, a few tiny Pineapple Tarts, and a few seemingly harmless sips of carbonated sugared drinks can easily amount to 500 or more calories. Chia suggests prioritising top three goodies to savour instead of eating everything that is being served; taking small bites to enjoy the food instead of gobbling; and drinking plenty of water to avoid hunger pangs. Do not allow yourself to engage in social snacking just to fill awkward silences during visits!
Fast from Dusk to Dawn
Dr Mark Hyman, in his book Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss, says that eating before bed slows metabolism and encourages weight gain. Weight management is intricately linked with cholesterol management. Being overweight increases one’s risk of having high LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol). Many times, just by managing weight, it can help lower one’s cholesterol levels. If you must eat at night during this period, Tan Eu-Jzin, health promotion manager, Health Promotion Board, suggests going for fruits like mandarin oranges, which are low in calories, high in Vitamin C and fibre.
A Spoonful of Coconut Oil Keeps the Doctor Away
Coconut oil contains a saturated fat known as lauric acid, a type of Medium Chain Triglycerides. It has been shown that lauric acid increases HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood. Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut can help restore normal thyroid function. When the thyroid is not functioning optimally, it can contribute to high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). Consider taking
a spoonful of coconut oil this festive period as a prevention to bad cholesterol spikes!
Dear mommas, while there is no need to be a worrywart and count every calorie that you consume this season of feasting or be a wet blanket at social gatherings, it is a good time to exercise self-control and inspire your loved ones, especially your kids, to indulge responsibly and eat in moderation while embracing our local food culture!