Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers
When you first start any type of diet, there is usually a long list of foods that you are restricted from consuming. What’s nice about a lipid-lowering diet is the variety of foods available to you to include in your meals. Following a diet to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides can give you a wide range of foods and tastes to enjoy — whether you are wanting to prepare a vegetarian breakfast or an Italian-inspired dinner.When selecting foods, you should focus on foods high in soluble fiber, phytosterols, protein, and other nutrients. Additionally, foods containing unsaturated fats should replace foods high in saturated or trans fats that you currently have in your diet. If you are starting your heart-healthy diet, the following types of foods should be included on your list of items to get on your next trip to the grocery store.
Fruits and vegetables are high on the list of foods to include in your lipid-lowering diet. Not only are these foods high in nutrients, but they are also high in fiber and phytosterols — two healthy chemicals that can help you to keep your LDL levels in check. Any type of produce can be included in your diet, including:
- Leafy greens – such as spinach, lettuce, and kale
- Citrus fruits -including kiwi, orange, and grapefruit
- Apples, pears, and plums
- Root veggies – such as carrots, beets, rutabaga
- Cucumbers, celery, peppers
Whole Grain Foods
Whole grain foods are typically higher in fiber than their more refined counterparts. There are many types of whole grains available, so it is fairly easy to experiment with them in your healthy meals. The more common whole grains include:
Additionally, there are many types of pre-packaged, whole wheat or whole grain flour or rice — both of which are also high in fiber because the product has not been as processed in comparison to carbohydrates such as all-purpose flour or white rice. However, you should make sure to check your food packages to note the fiber content and total carbohydrate content, since some already-prepared grains may contain added sugars.
Fish can be a delicious addition to your heart-healthy diet. Fish are low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein. More commonly available fish include halibut, tilapia, and cod. Additionally, some fish — such as tuna, salmon, and herring — contain omega-3 fats, a type of healthy fat that has been shown to help reduce triglyceride levels. When preparing your foods, you should bake, grill, or lightly sauté your fish. Frying your fish will introduce calories and unhealthy fats to your meal.
Nuts are high in omega-3 fats but are also surprisingly high in fiber and other healthy nutrients. Practically any type of nut will do, however, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios are the more commonly consumed nuts. Studies have shown that roughly a handful of nuts daily can have a positive impact on your lipid levels. However, you shouldn’t go overboard — nuts are also high in calories and can add to your waistline if you do not consume them in moderation.
Although legumes are sometimes ignored, these high-protein, low-fat foods can have a powerful impact on your lipid-lowering diet. Not only are these foods chock-full of healthy nutrients that can help keep your lipid levels in check, but they can also be very filling — preventing the munchies after you’ve eaten your meals. Foods that fall under the legumes category include:
- Certain peas
Most legumes have a fairly neutral taste, so they can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, sides, dips, and entrees. However, you should be careful about what you add to them. Although it is tempting, adding sugary sauces or fatty ingredients could increase the calorie content of this otherwise low-calorie food.
Yes, you can eat meat on a lipid-lowering diet — but you must be careful about the types of meat that you include. Lean proteins, including turkey, soy, or chicken — are your best bet when looking for options to include in your diet, since these typically contain saturated fat and calories than fattier proteins. You can even include cuts of animal meat in some of your meals, but you should take steps to cut any additional fat from these meats since animal meats tend to be higher in saturated fat in comparison to other types of protein. Some ways to cut fat from your animal meats include:
- Selecting cuts of meat that do not have any visible pieces of fat on them
- Cutting away any fat on the piece of meat before serving
- Using healthy cooking methods that will not add more fat to your meat. Grilling, broiling, or roasting are all healthy options to prepare your meat.