5 foods to add to your diet to lower your cholesterol

Anisha Singh, MD

Internal Medicine/Women’s Health Specialist

Holistic Nutritionist/Holistic Health Counselor


Most Indians have or know a family member or friend with High cholesterol’.  In today’s times, most of us seem to view ‘high cholesterol’as a common health and aging problem- like arthritis, and common cold! The most common excuse, of course, is that  ‘it runs in my family’, it’s in my genes’.  The question, then, becomes- if it is so common and it runs in the family, do we have any power to make a difference? Are we, then just victim of our circumstances? And since it is so common and it is happening to all my friends, I must be ‘ok’, I must be ‘normal’. But the point to ponder is-‘is my body really ok with it? Since it is common, has my body learned to adapt to it? Can we truly beat the disease with either doing nothing or popping some pills? Are pills the best and the only alternative? If yes, then how come people did not have this disease in olden times, what did they do differently? This topic brings out the victim in us- blame it on modern lifestyle, blame it on busy lifestyles, blame it on restaurant foods, and blame it on technology. The blame game may win you a few brownie points in short run and give your ego the much needed boost it needs today but guess what- your body, your billion of cells, your arteries, your heart, your stomach, your lungs and all the other organs, do not care about your debating power, instead it cares about what you feed it today, how you make it feel today and what that ‘bad cholesterol’ is doing to it. So let’s put all blame game on the side and learn some truths about our own body and make some informed changes in our daily lives. Today we will discuss specifically cholesterol, what it truly does to our body and what can we add to our diet to make some positive adjustments. There are things you can take out from your diet and some other lifestyle changes you can make but I will keep that for my next article.


So when you find your cholesterol to be high on your lab tests, what does it really mean? Does it mean, you were 100% fine the day before, the year before and the high cholesterol just crept up on you suddenly? No. It means that you have had circulating levels of bad cholesterol in your blood stream in inappropriate levels or the wrong kind of fats in your blood stream for a long time. This cholesterol- the bad kind has gradually been depositing in the lining of your arteries (which doctors call plaque). Now these arteries are present everywhere- besides the big arteries that you may have read about in your school/college, there are millions of tiny arteries supplying blood to different organs of the body and this cholesterol is circulating in all those arteries. Some of these tiny arteries supplying blood to the stomach and the rest of the intestine may even be blocked but of course you have no idea. You may have upset stomach more often, you may burp and fart more but who cares!  If the tiny arteries supplying the kidney start getting blocked, your blood test may show slight abnormality but cruise along.  So many men, today, experience erection problems because of blockage of the arteries supplying their penis but who cares- what does not happen in bedroom stays in bedroom!! You realize that you have plaques only when you have a chest pain ‘cos that can be fatal. So the problem comes to light, one day suddenly when you get your blood report of high cholesterol or you 

have chest pain but it was not the beginning of the problem. A child as young as 10 years of age can start developing plaques if he/she eats wrong kinds of foods. So wake up today, when your ‘numbers’ look good and add these food to your diet and may be, just may be, you may not have to blame anyone for your high cholesterol and ‘bad’ heart and the side effect may be that your libido perks up!


Oatmeal- Oatmeal is a soluble fiber. There are 2 kind of fiber- soluble and insoluble. Wheat, bran is insoluble fiber- great for health and blood sugar, bowel movement. Then there is a soluble fiber- soluble fiber pulls the cholesterol from your blood stream into your GI tract and dumps it into your poop. So it acts like a vacuum- sucks up your cholesterol. Now you have very little time in the morning for breakfast and oatmeal is the quickest healthiest breakfast. You can choose from many versions of oats- steel cut oats, rolled oats or instant oats. Keep in mind the ingredient on the package should only list oats as the ingredient. No added stuff to it. So ‘NO’ to sugar,sweetener, artificial flavor, artificial or natural colors. It may contain flax seed or any other kind of seeds. Instant oatmeal cooks in 90 seconds- what could be faster! The steel cut oats and rolled oats take a bit longer but you can make a big batch for the whole week. When ready to eat, you can add nuts, seeds, blueberries or any berries to it. If you need to make it sweet, try raw honey or raw agave syrup.  


Oranges/MangoesThese fruits are very high in soluble fiber. A small orange has more soluble fiber than a bowl of cereal.  So have 2 oranges a day as a snack between breakfast and lunch or as a mid afternoon snack. You can have cut oranges in your salad. In fact, when u eat out, have them add extra oranges to your salad. You will not even need to use any of the processed dressings. During mango season, have a mango or mango milkshake (no added sugar) as a snack. The only thing to keep in mind is not to combine fruit with a meal.  Have a fruit as a snack and none after dinner. Other fruits with high soluble fiber are apricot and grapefruit.


Fish- One of the drawbacks of the busy lifestyle is that we eat a lot more packaged ready made, frozen foods. Check the label on your cookies, pizza, and cereals. The oil that is mostly used in them is either trans fats or omega 6 fats (soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, canola oil). We will keep the trans fats discussion for later article. But as for omega 6- it is a great polyunsaturated fat. All polyunsaturated fats are needed in diet for various body functions especially the heart.  There are 2 kind of polyunsaturated fats- omega 3 and omega 6 and our body need both but the ratio of one to the other in our diet is critical.  The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 should to 20:1 in our diet. So way more omega 3 than omega 6. This causes our arteries to remain supple, soft and we don’t form hard plaques. But in today's diet with so much packaged processed foods or eating out, our omega 6 FA intake has increased. So most people today have a omega 3 

to omega 6 ratio of 3:1 which causes hardening of the plaques. So what can we do? Stopping all packaged foods is not a practical option for most of us. So then instead of blaming the food industry, can’t we proactively increase our omega 3 consumption? Yes- We Can!!! Yeah!! We have the power, after all!! One of the best places to get omega 3 is fish. So if you are a non-vegetarian, add fish to your diet- at least 2-3 times per week- you can sauté the fish and have it in dinner with rice and veggies, you can make fish burgers, at restaurant you can order dishes with fish. Wild salmon has one of the highest levels of omega 3 but there are many fishes that have good levels- so eat all kinds of fishes. I can give you a whole list of fishes in another article.


Walnuts- Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. So add walnuts to your diet- A portion size of walnut is 14 walnut halves. You can have it as an afternoon snack along with your fruit or add to your salad.



Flax seeds- Flax seeds are super foods. It is high in soluble fiber and high omega 3 fatty acids. So add a tbsp. of flax seed to your oatmeal or to your smoothie, your salad or sprinkle on any food you have cooked. Add it to your kid’s food. Flax seed does not really have much of a taste. So the kids won’t know the difference but omega 3 fatty acids is great for their brain development. But don’t go overboard. A tbsp. a day is good enough.


So here is my first 5 list to lower your cholesterol- easy enough? Try these five for now and start making changes today. It is never too early to start. Your 10 year old is old enough.  Add these foods on most days of the week and your cholesterol will lower significantly or you may prevent future plaque formation or hardening. Give your body a much needed boost and then let it do it’s magic on you! Good Luck!!   

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Feb 26 2013


Anisha Singh, MD 

Have you been trying to eat healthy lately? Question is what is healthy eating? One of the common healthier switches I find people make is to have nuts- almonds/cashews/walnuts/pistachio/pecans etc. That is awesome ‘cos nuts are a powerhouse super foods. Walnuts is a rich source of omega 3-ALA, almonds are great Vitamin E and calcium source. Cashews are rich in copper and zinc, pistachio is rich in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Pecans are rich in Vitamin E and omega 3-ALA. But is being nuts about nuts a good thing? Let’s find out together-

  1. ‘Right’ fat is essential for brain health, heart health and really for all the billions of cells in our body. Nuts have all the ‘right’ fats.
  2. We need about 30% of our daily calories from fat.
  3. So the 1st question then is-what is your daily calorie requirement - let’s take me as an example- a female at age 41, with a weight of 110 lbs, height of 5’1” and exercising 3 times per week, I need approx 1500 calories for weight maintenance and about 1200 calories for weight loss. You can calculate your approx calorie needs online e.g.: www.freedieting.com. So let’s take that you need about 1500 calories a day.
  4. 30% of calories from fat means-you need only 450 calories/day from fat.
  5. One gm of fat has 9 calories- so that means you need to consume about 50gm of fat a day for the good health of your body.
  6. An almond has 0.28gm of fat.
  7. A cashew has 1.5gm of fat.
  8. One walnut half has 2gm of fat.
  9. One pecan half has 1gm of fat.
  10. One pistachio kernel has 0.26gm of fat.
  11. One peanut has 0.57gm of fat
  12. A combination of 5 almonds+5 cashews+3 walnuts+5 pistachio+2 pecans will give you- 1.4+7.5+12+1.3+8=30 gm of fat. That leaves me with only another 15-20gm of fat for the day! 1 tbsp of olive oil has 14 mg of fat. So you can see how quickly you can meet your fat requirement for the day, if you are not mindful about your nuts.
  13. So now lets change the equation- to 10 almonds+4 cashews+2 walnuts+4 pistachio-2.8+6+8+1.04= only

  14. 84 gm fat. So play around with the portion of the nuts you like and calculate your own daily nut intake.

  15. 20 peanuts has 11gm of fat. So if I have a handful of peanuts and then at another time of day, a handful of other nuts, I need to be very mindful of how many gm of fat am I taking. Nuts have healthy fats but the daily need for healthy fats is still 30% of your total daily calories. 

  16. General rule of thumb- is no more than 20 nuts a day. Go for raw nuts, so that you do not get the additional fats from the added oils.


So the bottom line is nuts are super foods but portion control is a must for your health and for your weight.


So basically fats are awesome. Raw unsalted Nuts are super awesome. You need them everyday for your health, for your skin, for your youthfulness, for your vitality, for your brain and for weight loss and maintenance BUT you do not need lots of nuts to give you the benefits. A little goes a long way.


BTW, it is not good to be NUTS about anythingJ. So stop being a nut and just enjoy your nuts today in Moderation.


(About the author:
Dr. Anisha Singh is the director of Healthier Choice Weight Care Program, a holistic women’s weight loss and well-being center. Sheis an internist with women’s health fellowship from Cleveland Clinic. She has presented and published her research work in weight management in national meetings and journals. She works with busy women who are struggling with their weight, despite their best intentions. For more details visit www.healthierweightcare.com or call 513 439 9095. We're thankful to her for agreeing to bring fitness related tips for the desideewar readers. )


Simple Keys to Great ABS!
(Written by Amrita Pradda for desideewar)

1. BASICS: 75% of your diet should be healthy, low-fat, high-fiber, and high-protein foods.  Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Portion control!

2. Drink lots of water:  Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.  It keeps you hydrated, full of energy, and prevents you from eating big portions.

3. Walk with a good posture.  Keep your abdominal muscles slightly flexed at all times! I know it sounds difficult, but you will get used to it.  Keeping a good posture and your “stomach sucked in” throughout the day works your AB muscles all day long, and also allows you to burn extra calories.

4. Focused AB work outs have LITTLE importance for having flat ABS!!  Crunches are painful on the neck, they do not burn that many calories, and they only work an extremely focused muscle group (AKA, you don’t get much bang for your buck with crunches.)

5. Besides keeping a good diet, the best way to keep strong AB muscles is to do a variety of full body work outs!  When the rest of your body is being worked out, flat ABS will follow without having to do painful AB exercises!
6. Cardio work outs:  Running, speed walking, kick boxing, turbo kick, basically any kind of cardio is great for your ABS!  You would be surprised how much of an AB work out you get from doing cardio work outs despite not feeling a “burning” sensation in your AB muscles.

7. Push-ups—one of the best exercises for your whole upper body.  Push-ups not only will give you toned arms but majorly work the stabilizing muscles of your abdominals and back.  You must be sure to do PROPER form push-ups though.  If push-ups are not done properly, they are basically useless.  Note, it is not necessary to start off doing push-ups on your toes.  Doing push-ups on your knees is also a great work out and allows for good technique.  Try and work up to doing 3 sets of 10 push-ups every other day. 
This is a good YouTube video I found that shows how to do proper form pushups on either your knees or toes.

8. PLANKS: Another great exercise for your whole core! I recommend holding this position from 15 seconds to 60 seconds depending on your level.  Keep working up to see how long you can hold this position.  You can work up to 3-5 sets of holding the plank for one minute.  You can do this exercise every other day.
9. Make it a priority to incorporate weight-lifting into your work outs.  A lot of people, especially women do not like to lift weights because they are scared they will “bulk up.”  This is not true, especially if you lift light weights.  Also, because women don’t have a lot of testosterone, it’s almost impossible to “bulk up,” you will just get toned!
a. Lifting weights is not only important for building muscle, but it also helps to prevent osteoporosis. 
b. The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn at rest, and the less fat that will accumulate on your abdomen!   
c. What a lot of people don’t realize is that almost every lifting exercise requires your abdominal muscles to get a work out through stabilization.  This is because with all exercises it’s important to keep a proper posture, which requires you to keep your ABS tightened.
d. I like to split up my weight lifting routine by focusing on lower body one day and upper body the other day.  I recommend lifting weights 2-3 times per week. 

 10. Do not get bored with your work outs.  Keep switching up your work-outs and exercises because muscle confusion allows muscle to build faster. 

11. Most of all -- have fun and be patient!  Make it a priority to feel healthy ! Do not worry about a number on a scale or the size of the pants you wear. Every person has a different body type, and you should never define yourself by a number on a scale or the pant size that you wear.   Sometimes, scales do not reflect your progress because muscle weighs more than fat.   While you are on a work-out regimen, you will be losing fat but also gaining muscle, so when you step on the scale you may not see a big drop in pounds, but when you look in the mirror, you will see the difference in how you look!

(About the author-
 Amrita is a young Sikh American girl born in Detroit, Michigan and now lives in Toledo, Ohio where she is a 4th year medical student at University of Toledo, College of Medicine. She is currently interviewing for internal medicine residencies, as she eventually wants to pursue a gastroenterology fellowship. We loved her previous article and wanted her to continue writing for us on obtaining great abs - like hers :))

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4 Pillars Of Healthy Weight
(Written by Dr Anisha Singh)

Today thousands of women around
the country are trying to lose weight.
Yet as a nation, we continue to gain 
weight. Average weight gain for a
woman in America is 2-5 lbs. every
year. Eating healthy and exercising
is a common knowledge but why are
the women unable to make it work for
them in the long run? Why has diet
and exercise become such a four-letter
word? What are really the pieces of
this puzzle? Today let’s deconstruct this
puzzle and make it simple.

There are 4 pillars of healthy weight. To
make our body (the building) healthy
and strong, we need to focus on all
4 of these pillars and work on them
every single day. If even one pillar is
weak, the whole building collapses.

1. Diet- Diet is more than calories and
portion control. Diet is about vitality,
energy, happiness, and youth. Your
body is made up of billions of cells
and each cell performs its function
for you through out the day. Feed
your cells nutrient dense foods like
green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts,
whole grains, legumes, eggs, lean
meats and milk products. When you
focus on just calories, you do not
care where the calories come from.
Processed, sugary, salty foods, even if
baked and fat free have zero nutrient
value for your body. But when you
focus on making every bite you eat
full of nutrients, your calorie intake
will be balanced on its own and
maintaining a healthy weight will not
be so hard.

2. Physical Activity- Hoping for a
healthy weight without any exercise
is like dreaming about a beautiful
married life without making any
efforts. With our busy lifestyle, it has
become harder to fit exercise in our
schedules. So the key is to exercise
smart, not hard. Instead of changing
your schedule drastically, incorporate
exercise within your lifestyle. Find
exercises to do while brushing your
teeth, driving your car, waiting at the
airport, in the plane, on the beach
during your vacation and a fit and
lean body will be yours to enjoy!

3. Mental Barriers- All the knowledge
of nutrition and exercise will
do you no good, if you do not dig
deep within you to figure out your
mental barriers to weight loss. Why
you gravitate towards salty, sweet
processed food has less to do with
your lifestyle and more to do with
your heart and mind. This is the piece
of the puzzle that is hardest to work
on and takes the most courage and
time. Common barriers are emotional/
mental/physical/sexual abuse,
self-esteem or body image issues.
You can sabotage your own
progress if this pillar is weak.
Spirituality and getting your
inner world in alignment with
your outer world brings great
energy, joy and peace and that
translates into increased focus
and commitment to healthier
lifestyle choices.

4. Mindful Eating- A healthy
food can become unhealthy, if
you do not know when to stop
eating and an unhealthy food cannot
do much harm, if you know when to
stop eating. When you start taking

each bite mindfully and get in touch
with the fullness signal of your stomach,
strict portion control becomes
unnecessary. Eating, then becomes
a pleasurable guilt-free activity and
food becomes your friend.
Remember, good health is a journey,
not a destination. So keep working
on making these pillars stronger and
weight loss, rather fat loss will happen
on it’s own.

Dr. Anisha Singh is the
director of Healthier Choice
Weight Care Program, a
holistic women’s weight loss
and well-being center. She
is an internist with women’s
health fellowship from
Cleveland Clinic. She has
presented and published her research work in
weight management in national meetings and
journals. She works with busy women who are
struggling with their weight, despite their best
intentions. For more details visit www.healthierweightcare.
com or call 513 439 9095.

(Photos: Pictures provided to desideewar by Dr Anisha Singh. Pictures on the left show the pictures of her during her two pregnancies when she gained 100 lbs. The picture on the right shows the result of her hard work in getting back to form after her last pregnancy and actually acquiring a six-pack ab.)

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Lose Weight and Stay Fit by Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle

(Written by Amrita Pradda for deisdeewar)

Dec 04 2012

When I was a kid, I remember being so upset that my parents restricted my Burger King visit to only twice a week.  Back then I could not understand why my parents said no to me when I continuously asked to eat ice cream, chips, friends, chicken nuggets, etc.  As I got older, I finally realized my parents were just trying to teach me a healthy lifestyle.  So many people think that to be thin and fit, one must have to diet.  But diets are bad!  What is important is to form healthy habits as a kid, and if a person did not form healthy habits as a child, it is never too late to start breaking bad ones and forming new ones.  The key to staying healthy and fit is to eat foods that fuel your body and do physical activities that are fun!  I am the first one to admit that I love every junk food that exists, and I never deprive myself because I just have a 75/25 rule.  75 percent of my diet is healthy food, and then the other 25 are my splurges such as pizza or brownies!  I’m going to quickly give my keys that will keep you fit and healthy for life.  The key is not to do stupid fad diets for a week or a month, the key is to change your habits and enjoy your life as a healthy person.


1.       FIBER

a.       The average American eats 10 grams of fiber a day, but our daily requirement is 30 grams per day!

b.      Fiber not only helps fill us up faster so that we eat less, but it also decreases our cholesterol level in our blood, and also prevents colon problems down the road such as diverticulosis or diverticulitis.

c.       Fiber helps keep our bowel movements regular!

d.      There are so many high fiber foods being made now – high fiber wheat bread, high fiber bars, high fiber cereals

e.       Fiber is naturally abundant in fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils.

2.      You don’t have to go to the gym to burn calories!

a.       Make physical activity part of your everyday life

b.      Take the stairs!! Stay away from the elevators!!

c.       Do push-ups, jumping jacks, or squats when you are watching TV

3.      Find activities you like to do

a.       There are so many different exercise lifestyles these days.  You can go to the gym to lift weights, you can do biking classes, dance classes, turbo kick classes etc.

b.      When the weather is nice outside, go walking, go play tennis, play basketball, be active outside when the sun is shining!

c.       You don’t even have to leave your house to work out!

                                                              i.      There are so many home DVD’s you can order now so that you can save money on a gym membership and save time for having to drive to the gym

4.      Carbs are not your enemy!

a.       Carbs are your fuel!!

b.      50% of your diet should be carbohydrates, but the “Good kind” of carbs, called complex carbs! Complex carbs are found in whole wheat foods, vegetables, fruits¸ and beans.  Try and stay away from crackers, chips, cookies – these have lots of simple carbs AKA the “bad carbs”

5.      Stay motivated with your friends or family

a.       Having a buddy who will work with you to form new habits and exercise will make long term goals stick


6.      Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full – yes I know, it sounds simple, but most people don’t do it!

a.       If you truly listen to your body, you will eat the correct portion sizes.  Do not eat mindlessly, for example -- never eat in front of the TV.  When you are sitting down to eat or meal or even to have a snack, make sure you are actually hungry, and enjoy the food while you eat it! 

7.      Drinking lots of water and skim milk with your meals will fill you up faster and keep you full for longer. 

8.      Always carry a water bottle with you.  I like to drink about 6-8 small bottles of water in between meals per day.  Keeps me hydrated, energetic, and I eat less because I’m not as hungry.

Following these keys will help you have more energy, lose weight, and will keep you healthy for life if you stick to it and make it your lifestyle!

(About the author, by desideewar-
We met Amrita Padda, a young Sikh American girl, this summer at a wedding in Ohio. Amrita was born in Detroit, Michigan and now lives in Toledo, Ohio where she is a 4th year medical student at University of Toledo College of Medicine. She is currently interviewing for internal medicine residencies, as she eventually wants to pursue a gastroenterology fellowship. It was easy to like her- her warm nature and sharp mind was attractive. Got to say, though, that we were also impressed by her six-pack abs :). So we asked her to write articles for desideewar on how to get those, six pack abs, I mean. And she obliged!)


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