My 'cholesterol uncle' and his 'healthy' diet

I happen to be from a part of the world called Kerala, a blessed land, also known as "God's own country". The word "Kerala" means the land of coconuts and hence coconut oil is a staple item in every household and put to a multitude of uses.

Now let me narrate an incident that happened today when I visited my uncle's place for a lunch.
I was served rice,'chemmeen varattiyathu' (prawns roast) and cabbage thoran( cabbage and grated coconut stir fried in coconut oil) along with other dishes. After the lunch, while having a conversation with my uncle, I learned that the prawns roast was made especially for me, and that no one in the house eat prawns. I was surprised and I asked uncle why and I got a big fat reply "It has "cholesterol" (P.S: This is how, we Keralites address high cholesterol levels; be it total, HDL, LDL or VLDL. For us, everything sums up to "cholesterol" which is LDL,the bad cholesterol)

I was amazed at a few things here. My uncle is so health conscious and "cholesterol conscious", yet he eats all dishes cooked in coconut oil, that too in plenty. Cabbage/ Green beans thoran is a dish which is considered to be 'healthy' in spite of the fact that they are made with half a coconut and lots of coconut oil. He drinks only 'pure cow's milk' delivered daily by the family milk-man, loaded with full cream on top, supposedly 'very healthy'. He eats two 'naadan mutta' a day ( eggs from home-bred hens) saying it gives immense strength and vitality. To top it all, my uncle munches banana-chips and jack-fruit chips every evening as a tea-time snack, saying "we made it at home in fresh coconut oil,and so it is "very healthy".

My uncle is a just an example of many Keralites who are still ignorant about what is heart-healthy and what's not. Of course, my uncle was not compleeetely wrong(our way of stressing on facts) ;-)
Yes, prawns have high cholesterol content , but is low in total fat and has no saturated fat at all. It helps to increase HDL , the good cholesterol, and is listed in "Heart healthy" foods by American Heart Association.

For my patients and readers, I just have some simple tips for you.
  • Eat prawns and shrimps in moderation, either baked, grilled or boiled and not fried and drowning with coconut oil.
  • The use of coconut oil, palm oil etc should not be more than 5 percent of your total calorie intake. It has saturated fat which increases the bad cholesterol (LDL) and hence it is not heart-healthy. Instead, use canola oil (which I use and personally recommend), sunflower oil or corn oil.
  • As with the case of eggs, all the cholesterol in eggs is in the yolks. Avoid it and have the egg whites instaed, which are heart-healthy (increases HDL) and are also a good source of protein. 

Hope you liked the post. If yes, please post your comments below.
And as I always say, Be healthy! Be Happy ;-)


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