Are you trying to reduce your cholesterol or lower the amount of fatty foods you eat? With so many choices on the grocery store shelves, it’s hard to know where to start.
Banner Health registered dietitian, Lindsey Manz, explains, “It’s not just about eating the right foods. It’s also about eliminating the bad foods that raise our cholesterol.” Manz shared with us some easy lifestyle changes you can make that will help keep your cholesterol low and your heart healthy.
Keys to Being Heart-Healthy
According to Manz, there are some steps you can follow to make sure you are living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Her tips include:
- Eat a balanced diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources.
- Choose heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Limit saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol intake.
- Limit refined carbohydrates such as sugar, sweets and sugary beverages.
- Eat more plant-based or vegetarian meals using beans and soy foods for protein.
- Eat foods rich in soluble fiber such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips, apricots, mangoes, oranges, legumes, barley, oats and oat bran.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation: one serving per day for women and two for men. One serving equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes per day.
What to Eat and What Not to Eat
By now you may be asking: How exactly do I do this without giving up the foods I love? Manz and her colleagues have put together a list of recommended foods and foods you should avoid. Start with these suggestions. You’ll find there are many ways to substitute healthier foods for high fat ones without impacting taste.
Recommended foods include:
- Grains including whole grain breads and cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain crackers and breads.
- Protein foods including lean cuts of beef and pork, skinless poultry, fish, wild game, dried beans and peas, nuts and nut butters, and egg whites or egg substitutes.
- Dairy including skim, low-fat or 1% milk or buttermilk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese and fortified non-dairy milk.
- Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added fat or salt.
- Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit.
- Unsaturated oils (corn, olive, peanut, soy, sunflower, canola), soft or liquid margarines, vegetable oil spreads, salad dressings, seeds, nuts and avocado.
Foods to avoid include:
- High-fat baked goods such as doughnuts, biscuits, croissants, pastries and snacks made with partially hydrogenated oils (chips, snack mixes, etc.)
- Protein foods such as higher fat cuts of meat, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, corned beef, hot dogs, organ meats, poultry with skin, fried meats, whole eggs and egg yolks.
- Dairy products such as whole and 2% milk, whole yogurt and ice cream, cream, half & half, cream cheese, sour cream and cheese.
- Fried vegetables and vegetables prepared with butter, cheese and cream sauce.
- Fried fruits and fruits served with butter or cream.
- Oils such as butter, stick margarine, shortening, partially hydrogenated oils and tropical oils.
- Candy, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and desserts.
“The bottom line is it’s best to follow a plant-based eating pattern with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products,” says Lindsey. “Limiting meats, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and simple sugars will help you keep your cholesterol under control and your heart healthier.”
For more information on nutrition services, visit: bannerhealth.com/services/nutrition.