Sticking to a low fat / low cholesterol diet is a sure track to healthy living. But making healthy food choices can sometimes look very boring and deterring. However, if you must lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, cutting back on calories and your cholesterol intake is of utmost importance.
There’re lots of healthy alternatives to high-carbs you can include in your diet so it doesn’t become too restricted and boring. A good start to making healthy choices is to read nutritional information on products when grocery shopping. Always check for fat, sugar, sodium, calorie content etc.
Most of the easily available staple food items in Nigeria are high in carbohydrates and calories but you can make healthy switches to still enjoy the best of Naija cuisines.
Here are some common low cholesterol swaps you can make:
Let’s start with the most universal Naija staple - rice. Rice is so widely accepted and loved by all. So much so that it’s almost difficult to imagine life without rice. However, white rice is highly laden with unhealthy carbs and makes top place on the list of foods to be eaten in moderation. If you must eat rice, leafy greens or salads with fat-free dressings should make up most part of your rice meals. You may however opt for tasty nutrient-rich substitutes like brown rice, ofada rice, bulgur wheat, couscous and quinoa.
Nigeria has several scrumptious soups that attest to the numerous tribes and unique culture she’s blessed with. How best to enjoy these dishes if not accompanied with solids? Also called swallows, eba/fufu/pounded yam/starch are solids made from flour-based starchy carb-rich staples. If you’re on a low-cholesterol diet, these foods should be eaten moderately or totally avoided where possible. There’re other ways to enjoy your rich soup delicacies without loading up on calories and unnecessary carbs. Plantain amala, oat fufu, soya meal and even millet are healthier flour-based options for swallows. You can make flour out of these food items yourself rather than buying them off the shelf.
To make the most of the available healthy options to swallow foods, you should use palmoil sparingly when preparing your soups. And for stews and general cooking, instead of cholesterol-rich vegetable and groundnut oils preferably use cholesterol-free varieties. Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and soya oil are healthy choices of cooking oil you can try.
For animal proteins, fish, chicken breasts, turkey are better options to beef. In cooking your meals, choose boiling/grilling or roasting to frying. Avoid fried foods as much as possible.
And veggies? You should also consider stocking up on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most vegetables are fibre-rich, low in calories and great sources of antioxidants and various nutrients. They can be included into your dishes in several ways. They make healthy snacks too, so have them in your kitchen in varieties. Fruits and veggie infused water also make healthier alternatives to carbonated and sugary drinks and juices.
And lastly, don’t miss out on breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Significantly, breakfast is what sets your metabolism into drive all day-long. Fibre-rich cereals like oatmeal, bran flakes amongst many other whole-grain products are low- sugar / sodium and healthy breakfast choices. They will keep you full for longer (because they digest slower) while also lowering your body’s cholesterol levels. When buying milk for your cereals and tea, opt for low-fat/skimmed milk options like Three Crowns Milk.
Who says low-cholesterol diets have to be tasteless? Definitely not with these delectable alternatives. Make them your choices today and totally enjoy your healthy life!