Do you crave for parathas, butter chicken and shahi paneer with dollops of butter, ghee and oil on it? Is the voice in your head saying “Go ahead and relish your dishes. Why resist the temptation when good life is about savouring your favourite foods to your heart’s content?”

Think again as each time you reach out for an oily dish particularly meat, chicken and fish delicacies, your heart is likely to be put under major stress.

When you take large portions of food containing saturated and trans fats and sugar, your bad cholesterol levels are bound to go up. This accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries places you at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. What will this lead to? Blockage of arteries, lesser blood circulation to the heart and higher chances of heart attack, shorter lifespan and increased chances of suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Sounds scary, right?

There are three forms of lipids in our bloodstream:

  1. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) ‘bad’ cholesterol
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) ‘good’ cholesterol
  3. Triglycerides

If you choose to have low sugar and less fats in your diet, you can reduce triglycerides, and bring about positive changes in LDL and HDL.

This means eating healthy vegetarian food is the best way to get a hale and healthy heart.

Now pick up a pen and paper and jot down these 8 vegetarian foods that promote good cholesterol and enhance healthy living. Stick this note to your refrigerator or on your desk to serve as a constant reminder and include these food items in your daily diet.

  1. Nuts

Power-packed nuts such as almonds (with their skin on), walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts have heart-healthy fats that are excellent in reducing bad cholesterol. Almond skins have substances that help prevent LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol from getting oxidized, which can damage the lining of blood vessels and increase cardiovascular risk.

Nibble a handful of almonds as pre-lunch or evening snack or sprinkle them on cereals and salads. Or add the nuts to your yogurt, cereals, rice and eat them raw or baked.

  1. Avocados

The monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid present in avocados have lower ‘bad’ LDLs and raise ‘good’ HDLs. This is especially good for people with mildly high cholesterol.

The best way to enjoy avocados is by slicing and packing them into sandwiches and salads.

  1. Barley

As per clinical trials conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Services (USDA/ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, MD between 2001 and 2002, barley added to the standard American diet showed a steep fall in LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

Dr. Christine Fastnaught, cereal scientist and research consultant for the National Barley Foods Council says “These results confirm key barley health benefits, particularly the grain’s ability to reduce cholesterol.” (Source: Beta-glucan which is a type of soluble fibre present in barley reduces cholesterol levels.

Barley is a time-tested substitute for rice which can be added to soups and rotis. It is healthier when turned into a salad along with dried fruits, nuts and a little vinegar and oil.

  1. Beans and Lentils

Beans such as Bengal gram (chana), Kidney beans (rajma) and Chickpeas (Kabuli chana) are cholesterol-free, low fat, and rich in dietary fibre, which helps lower cholesterol levels.

Make curries or add beans in soups, salads, stews and pastas.

  1. Blueberries

Blueberries are packed with pterostilbene, a powerful antioxidant that helps in lowering bad LDL cholesterol.

Enjoy it as a healthy breakfast drink. All you need to do is mix a cup of frozen blueberries with half-cup of orange juice and vanilla-flavoured yogurt into the blender. You can also sprinkle fresh blueberries on breakfast cereals and eat them as snacks.

  1. Oats

This makes a healthy breakfast that is nutritious and filling. According to the American Dietetic Association, there are 3 grams of soluble fiber in 1.5 cups of oatmeal – enough to lower your cholesterol.(Source:

Have a bowl of oat bran hot cereal or oatmeal for breakfast every morning. The latest trend is oat bran muffins that are equally delicious, nutritious and heart-friendly.

  1. Brown Rice

Being unpolished, brown rice is packed with nutrients such as vitamin B, magnesium, selenium, and phytonutrients. This high fibre content helps in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.

Brown rice is a good substitute for white rice, pulao, dosa, or biryani.

  1. Olive Oil

This oil is high in unsaturated fats and helps raise the good HDL. Olive oil is the perfect replacement for vegetable oils that put your heart at risk.

Add extra virgin oil in salads and enjoy its health-oriented goodness.

Eat vegetarian foods and exercise if you want to stop bad cholesterol from affecting your life span and happiness.