All fats shouldn’t be treated equal. Your body craves certain “healthy” fats, which are unsaturated fats mostly found in plant-based foods. Continue reading
HealthDay reported that investigators “pooled data on 583 men and women who had participated in 25 nut consumption trials.”
“Patients in the trials ate an average of 67 grams, or about 2.4 ounces, of nuts daily,” WebMD reported. While MedPage Today reported that the researchers found that “eating an average of 67 grams of nuts a day (2.4 ounces) reduced total cholesterol by 5.9% and LDL cholesterol by 7.4%.”
The bottom line, a couple of ounces of nuts per day may be heart healthy and highly healthy.
Holiday weekends are not necessarily the easiest time to cut unhealthy and saturated fats. But, according to this practical article from Health.com, it couldn’t be easier to cut cholesterol without cutting taste. Many of my patients are afraid that any meals that are “good for my cholesterol” are meals that are joyless (and tasteless). However, a low-cholesterol diet doesn’t have to be all oat bran and tofu. If you want to know more, here are some simple substitutions that you can make to the food you already eat to help fight cholesterol painlessly.
1) Sprinkle walnuts, skip croutons
Carbohydrates can cause high levels of a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. For a healthier salad, replace your carbo-laden croutons with walnuts, which are high in polyunsaturated fat—a good fat that can lower LDL while boosting HDL (aka good cholesterol).
2) Yes to edamame and nuts, no to cheese and crackers
For a predinner snack, skip the crackers and cheese, which are sky-high in saturated fat—one of the prime culprits behind high cholesterol. Instead, put out some almonds, which have been shown to lower LDL, and edamame, the boiled baby soybeans that are a common appetite whetter in Japanese restaurants. Edamame is low in saturated fat and one cup contains about 25 grams of soy protein, which is thought to actively lower LDL (although the evidence is conflicting). Buy them frozen, dump them into boiling water, and drain after 5 minutes: That’s all there is to it.
3) Vinegar and lemon juice beats salad dressing
As everyone knows by now, drenching a salad in high-fat salad dressing is like smoking cigarettes while jogging: It totally defeats the purpose. A low-fat alternative—such as our shallot and grapefruit dressing—is a step in the right direction, but the best option for lower cholesterol is drizzling your salad with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
4) Ditch the butter for margarine spread
One tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fat—that’s more than a third of the recommended daily value. It also contains 10% of your daily value for dietary cholesterol, which, though it isn’t as harmful as was once thought, is one of the main sources of high cholesterol (and atherosclerosis). Switch the butter with a vegetable-oil-based spread such as Smart Balance or Olivio (which also contains olive oil); you’ll be replacing a bad fat with a good fat. And instead of using butter to grease the pan while cooking, try olive oil or white wine vinegar.
5) Use ground turkey, not ground beef
Red meat is a source of both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol—two of the main sources of blood cholesterol. Ground turkey contains half the saturated fat of 85% lean ground beef, and it can be substituted easily for beef in most recipes.
6) Quinoa is a tasty alternative to rice
“I’m keen, you’re keen, we’re all keen on quinoa!” People with high cholesterol will be singing this tune once they realize the benefits of quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”), a South American seed that serves as a tasty and healthful stand-in for rice or couscous. One cup of cooked quinoa has 15% fewer carbohydrates and 60% more protein than a comparable amount of brown rice; it also has 25% more fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol.
7) Chicken is OK, fish is better
While they have less saturated fat than red meat, turkey and chicken aren’t entirely without cholesterol. One of the best strategies for reducing cholesterol through diet is eating more fish, which is very low in fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
8) Munch on popcorn, not tortilla chips
Tortilla chips are often considered a healthy alternative to potato chips. They are certainly healthier, but an even better snack is homemade air-popped popcorn, which has 80% less saturated fat than tortilla chips and more than twice the fiber.
9) Skip the fatty sour cream, choose fat-free Greek yogurt
Whether it’s used as a garnish or in a sauce, sour cream adds a shot of saturated fat to otherwise heart-healthy meals. To cut out that excess fat without sacrificing taste or texture, swap the sour cream with no-fat Greek yogurt—one of the world’s healthiest foods. Just about any recipe that calls for sour cream can be made with Greek yogurt instead.
10) Sip red wine, not cocktails
Research suggests that moderate alcohol intake can produce a slight rise in HDL cholesterol (a so-called good cholesterol). But that won’t do you much good if you’re tossing back margaritas or mixed drinks with fruit juice, which contain carbohydrates. Switch to red wine; it has about a tenth of the carbohydrates of a margarita, and you’ll also get antioxidants such as flavonoids that are believed to lower LDL and boost HDL. Given the risks of alcohol, however, the American Heart Association recommends that you limit your daily intake to two glasses (for men) or one glass (for women).
So, here’s to some tasty swaps that are also highly healthy.
As we head into the Easter weekend, I wanted to offer you some blogs on healthier nutrition choices. Here are ten choices that you can make that will be heart healthy and are adapted from an article at Health.com.
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties—which contain more fiber—and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.
Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third. “Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks. But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals. Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to up the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. “Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids—especially beta-carotene and lycopene—which are essential for heart health.”
4) Olive oil
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties—they’re the least processed—and use them instead of butter when cooking.
Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids and, along with almonds and macadamia nuts, are loaded with mono- and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever berry you like best—are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. “Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.”
Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber.
Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber. But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost. The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%.
Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.
Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet. Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.
So, use these tips to have a happy and highly healthy Easter … and make it a heart healthy one at that.
We know a Mediterranean diet is healthy and lengthens life. But, which items in this diet are most helpful? Well, finally, at study has teased out items in the Mediterranean diet that are most responsible.
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