Celebrate the Last Few Days of American Heart Month – Lower Your Cholesterol!

American Heart Month is coming to a close, but don’t let that be an excuse to forget about eating for your heart! Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. Here are five foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.

1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.

2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating fatty fish can be heart-healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. Doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in such fish as salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and halibut, to name a few. Be sure bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. According to the FDA, eating about a handful a day of most nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched. The FDA recommends using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.

Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.

What are your favorite ways to include these foods daily?

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Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

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Celebrate American Heart Month! 5 Tips for a Healthy Heart

Although you might know eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

2. Choose low-fat protein sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites or egg substitutes are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.

Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are heart healthy because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides.

Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals; they are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits also contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.

4. Select whole grains
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.

5. Reduce the sodium in your food
Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon). People age 51 or older, African-Americans, and people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.