Lowering your cholesterol can start right at home in your own kitchen.
Watching what you put on your plate is a great first step to lowering your cholesterol. Does your diet need a makeover? Keep these things in mind when cooking:
- Start with healthy ingredients. When dealing with packaged products, read labels to determine serving size, calories, fat, cholesterol and more. Look for products, such as egg substitutes, butter-type spreads and more, that are cholesterol-free and/or fortified with plant sterols and stanols that help prevent the absorption of cholesterol.
- Limit fat. Keep total fat to between 25 and 35 percent, saturated fat to less than 7 percent and trans fat to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. Stick to 1 percent or fat-free dairy products.
- Watch your meats. Choose lean meats, and limit processed meats, such as sausage or hot dogs, to no more than 2 servings each week. And boost your consumption of fish. Eat at least two servings of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or mackerel, weekly.
- Increase the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber in your diet. Choose a wide range of colorful produce from oranges to green beans. High fiber foods are also your friends — soluble fiber, found in oatmeal, beans and other foods, can help prevent cholesterol from being absorbed. When eating foods such as cereal, bread or pasta, choose whole grain varieties at least half of the time. And eat more nuts, legumes or seeds. Unsalted nuts eaten daily can help keep blood vessels healthy.
- Choose healthy preparation and cooking methods. Use olive oil instead of butter or margarine. Remove the skin from chicken or turkey prior to cooking. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg called for in a recipe. Cook soups and stews ahead of time and refrigerate so that your can remove the layer of fat that settles at the top. Grill or broil instead of frying.
The American Heart Association considers a total cholesterol of less than 200mg/dL desirable. Optimally LDL or “bad cholesterol” should be less than 100 mg/dL. Too much LDL can increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Do you know your numbers? Talk to your doctor about getting a blood test. For a referral or to schedule an appointment, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-256-7724. We also have hundreds of healthy recipes on our web site. Find them here.