Cholesterol! The Good and the Bad
Fats are one of the three macronutrients that make up our foods. Choosing our foods, especially our fats, wisely can help ensure that we are adhering to a heart-healthy diet! Reducing fats is also a key element in lowering cholesterol. Here are some tips and facts about fats and managing cholesterol.
1. Eat heart-healthy foods! But what are heart-healthy diet changes we can make?
2. Reduce saturated fats. Foods such as red meats and full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fats. Limiting your intake of these foods can help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
3. Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats are non-naturally occurring fats added to foods to make them more solid. These raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL levels. Another name is “partially hydrogenated oils”.
4. Add Omega-3s! While they don’t affect cholesterol, they are heart healthy by helping to lower blood pressure. These can be found in walnuts, salmon, and flaxseeds.
5. Increase soluble fiber. Fiber absorbs cholesterol in the bloodstream. Fiber can be found in oatmeal, apples, Brussels sprouts.
6. Exercise more regularly. Exercise helps raise the “good” HDL cholesterol. It is recommended to get 30 minutes of activity a day, five times a week.
7. Quit smoking! Within three months of quitting, lung function and blood circulation improve.
8. Lose weight. Extra weight contributes to high cholesterol. Look for weight to incorporate activity into your daily routine as well as easy ways to cut calories.
9. Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol is linked to serious health problems such as higher blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.
Maintain a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat as well as sugary foods and beverages.
Opt for naturally occurring unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil.
Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than saturated fat or hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) vegetable oils.
Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms. Look for “0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label.
Doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods high in trans fat. Don’t eat them often.
Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These foods are very high in fat, and it’s likely to be trans fat.
Limit fried fast food. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats are still made by hydrogenation and contain saturated and trans fats.