High Cholesterol: Heart-Healthy Diet

by Margrett Dawson Wallace
(Pelham, Georgia USA)

High Cholesterol: Heart-Healthy Diet

Just Sharing:

Learn how to eat a heart-healthy diet to help reduce your risk of heart disease, if you have high cholesterol.

By paying close attention to what you eat you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Although this is very important for everyone at risk for heart disease, it is even more important if you have had a heart attack and/or history of atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries).

Feed Your Heart Well:

Feeding your heart well is a powerful way to reduce or even eliminate some risk factors. Adopting a heart-healthy diet can help reduce LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), lower blood pressure, lower blood sugars, and reduce body weight. Although many dietary plans just tell you what you CAN'T eat (usually your favorite foods!), the most powerful nutrition strategy helps you focus on what you CAN eat. In fact, heart disease research has shown that adding heart-healthy foods is just as important as cutting back on others.
Here are 5 nutrition strategies to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease:

1. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. These wonders of nature may be one of the most powerful strategies in fighting heart disease. The increase in dietary fiber as part of a healthy diet helps lower bad LDL cholesterol. Aim for at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, three 1-ounce servings of whole grains a week, and four servings a week of nuts, legumes, and seeds.

2. Choose fat calories wisely. Keep these goals in mind: Limit total fat grams; eat a bare minimum of saturated fats (less than 7% of total calories each day) and avoid trans fats (for example, fats found in some packaged baked goods, solid fats); when you use added fat, use unsaturated fats (for example, fats found in vegetable oils such as canola, olive, and peanut oils). Another strategy is to use plant stanols or sterols (definition of sterols: any of various solid alcohols as cholesterol widely distributed in animals and plant lipids/cholesterol) as a dietary option to help lower bad LDL cholesterol.

3. Eat a variety of lean protein foods. Chicken, but not the whole fried chicken), fish, and vegetable proteins are better than red meats (beef, pork, and lamb), which contain more saturated fat and cholesterol. Fish and some vegetable sources contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac death. They also help lower levels of blood fats (triglycerides), fight atherosclerosis, and decrease blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that at least two 3.5-ounce servings a week of fish be included as part of a heart-healthy diet. Limit processed meats fried salmon patties...mmmmm, but noooooo to no more than 2 servings a week.

4. Limit cholesterol and fat consumption. The American Heart Association recommends less than 300 milligrams a day of dietary cholesterol for healthy people and less than 200 mg if you have heart disease. Limiting dietary cholesterol has an added bonus: You'll also cut out saturated fat, as cholesterol and saturated fat are usually found in the same foods (mainly meat proteins). Get energy by eating complex carbohydrates (whole wheat pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain breads) and limit simple carbohydrates (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets, smoothies). Limit sugar-sweetened drinks to less than 450 calories a week.

5. Feed your body regularly. Remember I shared with you…that you must continue to eat because skipping meals often leads to overeating, you must keep balance. For some, eating five to six mini-meals may help keep cravings in check, help control blood sugars and regulate metabolism. This approach may not be as effective for those who are tempted to overeat every time they are exposed to food. For these individuals, three balanced meals a day may be a better approach.

Other Heart-Healthy Strategies:

1. Reduce salt intake. The American Heart Association recommends less than 1500 mg of sodium a day. Try using dried herbs, vinegars, and citrus to add flavor to dishes.

2. Exercise. The human body was meant to be active. Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood flow, helps raise "good" HDL cholesterol), and helps control blood sugars and body weight.

3. Don't smoke...oops!!!

4. Keep a healthy weight.

Good luck and I will continue to share…Never to live this life again…

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