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Heart-Healthy Choices

1. Switch your dairy

  • Make the change from whole or two-percent milk to one-percent and then to skim, for drinking and in recipes. Or try almond milk or rice milk for a nondairy alternative.
  • Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and ice cream.

2. Choose lean cuts

  • Beef tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round, ground beef with 10 percent or less fat and pork tenderloin are good choices.
  • Other alternatives include white meat chicken or turkey.
  • Remove the skin before cooking any poultry.

3. Cook with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils

  • These include olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils.

4. Use more plant-based proteins instead of animal products

  • These include beans and peas—black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils—and tofu or soy. Try veggie burgers (soy-based or grain-based) for an alternative to beef.

5. Boost your intake of foods that are high in soluble fiber

  • This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from your body. Good sources include oatmeal, oatmeal bread, oat bran cereal, beans and peas, apples, bananas and citrus fruits.

6. Increase whole grains in your diet

  • Choose bread with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole-grain pastas and brown rice.

7. Use products containing plant sterol and stanol esters

  • These components help keep your body from absorbing cholesterol.
  • Consuming two to three grams a day decreases LDL cholesterol by 6 percent to 15 percent.
  • Food products that have added cholesterol-lowering sterols and stanols include margarines, orange juice and yogurt.

8. Eat fatty fish twice a week

  • Choose wild salmon over farm-raised to reduce possible toxin exposure.
  • Pregnant or nursing women and children should limit tuna intake to 6 ounces a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels.

9. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat

  • Most women should have 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables (without cheese sauce!) every day, according to new guidelines.
  • Adding more of these to your diet fills you up, adds fiber and important nutrients and helps replace foods with saturated fats.
  • For details on the new dietary recommendations, visit myplate.gov.

10. Keep an eye on dietary cholesterol

  • Dietary cholesterol, such as is found in eggs, dairy products and some other foods, may raise cholesterol in the blood slightly, but newer studies find that consumption of dietary cholesterol is unlikely to substantially increase risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy men and women. If you have other existing health conditions or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease, you may need to monitor dietary cholesterol more closely.
  • Egg yolks are filled with dietary cholesterol—213 milligrams in each. If you have elevated cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends you keep your consumption under 200 milligrams per day.
  • Egg whites are cholesterol-free, so use two for each whole egg in recipes, or use cholesterol-free egg substitute, which works well in baking and omelettes.

RELATED INFO
  • Nutrition.Answers.com is an informative and comprehensive nutritional guide containing a variety of articles centered on healthy living.

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