Its important to understand that not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is essential to the functions of the body. It is a fatty acid produced in the liver used to build cell membranes, lubricates the channels of the body, and synthesizes vitamin D, hormones and bile acids. To be healthy the body must have this lubrication and elasticity that cholesterol provides. According to Ayurveda, cholesterol isn’t bad in and of itself, however it has a harmful effect when ama is present in the body. Ama, is the metabolic waste that has accumulated in the body, caused by improper digestion. It can block the channels of the body and arteries, causing a variety of health concerns and imbalances.
According to Ayurveda, the principle factor behind balancing cholesterol in the body is balancing the digestive system. Therefore, when digestion, assimilation and elimination are in balanced the fat tissue and cholesterol will also be in balance. One of the Ayurvedic dosha principles involved in fat metabolism is the Kapha dosha. Unbalance Kapha dosha lies at the root of excess production of cholesterol in the body. With this understanding lowering cholesterol by using dietary recommendations that balance Kapha and the overall fat metabolism of the body.
A diet to enhance fat metabolism and pacify Kapha would be a diet which favors foods that have primarily bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. Astringent foods include dried beans, such as split mung dhal, lentils and garbanzo beans. Avoid larger beans such as pinto and black beans. Vegetables that are astringent in taste are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and fruits such as apples and pears. Bitter foods such chard, kale, spinach and other leafy greens cooked with spices help cleanse the bowel helping the prevention of bad cholesterol from accumulated in the body. Spices to use in cooking can include, black pepper, garlic, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, Basil, Asafetida and parsley.
It is also important to know what tastes to avoid when trying to balance cholesterol in the body, these include sweet, sour and salty. Sweet foods are not just sugary foods, its food with a sweet taste, such as wheat, pasta, breads, yam, and sweet milk products. Sour foods include lemons, tomatoes, cheese, yogurt and vinegar which are found in dressings, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Try cooking with less salt in your food, and avoid processed foods such as crackers, salted nuts, and chips.
One of the best thing you can do for the body to support its metabolic process is to eat freshly cooked foods eaten when it warm and directly after preparation. Cook with small amounts of oil such as ghee or mustard oil or sunflower oil. Avoid dry hard cool foods, or foods frozen or packaged meals.
Ayurveda has many effective herbs to support the body in the reduction of cholesterol. The herbal formula of Triphala can be used before bed to improve digestion and fat metabolism. Guduchi can also be taken daily as it supports the metabolism of the whole body including fat tissue and fat metabolism, it does this by enhancing the intelligence of the liver. In many studies Guggul was shown to reduce cholesterol as much as cholesterol-lowing drugs, but with out harmful side effects and Turmeric was found to lower triglycerides and serum cholesterol. Consider speaking with an Ayurvedic practitioner to find out what herbal support can work best for you as well as additional dietary recommendations.
Cholesterol Balancing Spice Mixture
- 6 parts ground cumin
- 6 parts ground coriander
- 6 parts ground fennel
- 3 parts ground turmeric
- 2 parts ground fenugreek
- 1 part powdered ginger
- 1 part ground black pepper
- Mix and store, use desired amount while cooking
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.