- Limit saturated and trans fats.
- Saturated and trans fats are found in fatty or fried meats such as: bacon, sausage, hotdogs, bologna, pepperoni, salami, poultry skin, fried chicken, fried pork tenderloin and fried fish.
- They are also found in whole milk products, high-fat cheese, ice cream, butter, cream, margarine and lard.
- Foods made with hydrogenated oils (pizza and other packaged food items), candy bars, crackers, chips, pastries, doughnuts and muffins are additional ways these bad fats can be found in our diets.
- Take Away Message: Try to avoid/limit red meat, fried foods, processed pastry/bakery items and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Limit total amount of fat that you eat (good and bad) to 25%-35% of the total calories you eat.
- Even if you’re not a calorie-counting whiz, the simplest way to accomplish this is to stick to heart-healthy fat sources such as: fish, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, avocados and olive oil and limit/avoid the sources of unhealthy fats.
- A small popcorn from the movie theater contains 42 grams of fat, which would be 25% of total calories for a person following a 1500 calorie diet. Here’s an example of a healthier way to incorporate fat into the diet: Try adding ½ medium avocado (15 g) with breakfast, 1 Tbsp of peanut butter (8.5 g) with a snack and 4 oz of salmon (12 g) with dinner to create nutritious, well-balanced meals.
- Become more familiar with reading food labels and utilizing online resources for finding fat content of foods. A great website is www.calorieking.com for finding nutritional information on foods and menu items. This is very useful when dining out or ordering in! Pizza is a very common source of unhealthy fats in our diet. Two slices of pepperoni pizza plus garlic dipping sauce contains 37 grams of fat.
- Increase Omega-3 fatty acid intake.
- This recommendation goes right along with choosing healthier sources of fats in one’s diet. The benefits of omega-3 fats go well beyond heart health. They can also help with reducing inflammation and supporting eye and brain health.
- Omega-3 fats, specifically Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are found in canola, soybean and flaxseed oil.
- The most potent sources of omega-3 fats include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel and sardines (EPA and DHA sources).
- Ground flaxseed and walnuts (ALA) are two wonderful ways to incorporate omega-3 fats into your diet, especially if you are not a fan of fish.
- The American Heart Association recommends that people with heart disease get 1 gm of omega-3 fatty acids from a combination of EPA and DHA per day. Consult with your physician before adding a fish oil supplement into your regimen as this may have possible interactions with other medications.
- Increase dietary fiber intake to at least 20-30 grams per day.
- Fiber is Mother Nature’s cholesterol lowering medication. While total fiber is very important, try to include sources of soluble fiber into your daily intake.
- Soluble fiber is found in oats, oat bran, kidney beans, broccoli, ground flaxseed, apples, bananas and potatoes with the skin. It is also added in fortified fiber products such as Fiber One and Fiber Plus cereals and snack bars.
- Fiber is only found in plant-based foods; fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes and whole grains. When choosing a grain (pasta, bread, cereal), make sure it is made with 100% whole wheat or whole grain. Barley, quinoa and brown rice make great choices too. Focus on filling ½ your plate with fruits and/or vegetables. Add nuts/seeds to salads, cereals or simply enjoy them by themselves.
Patients often ask me, “But Amanda, I don’t eat fried foods and I never eat red meat; why do I have high cholesterol?” In many cases, it’s not a matter of consuming too much of the bad stuff, it’s that you may not be consuming enough of the good stuff, specifically the omega-3 fatty acids and enough fiber.
Read part one of Cholesterol Month here!