HEART HEALTH

LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL WITH YOUR CART

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol – specifically elevated triglycerides – it is time to wake up and change your diet. Your body is trying to tell you that what you are currently eating isn’t working. The good news is you can take control of your health and make a few changes starting with your grocery cart.

It is best to find time to sit down with your physician or a dietitian or and have them explain in detail each one of your cholesterol lab values (Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides, Ratio, Non-HDL), review all past lab values, look for any patterns and discuss what dietary interventions may have an impact on each lab value.

3 NUTRIENTS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET TO LOWER TRIGLYCERIDES

Elevated triglycerides can lead to clogged arteries and even heart attack or stroke. Diet choices are largely responsible for increases in triglycerides. If you happen to also have high blood pressure, high blood sugar and belly fat in addition to your high triglycerides, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times more likely to develop diabetes. This condition is called metabolic syndrome and it will likely overtake smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease in the near future. You can avoid this by making some simple changes in your diet and exercise habits.

1. Fuel up on FIBER

Fiber helps lower your triglycerides. Americans typically fall about 15 grams short of the daily recommendation of 25 to 35 grams per day.

Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.

  • Best Fruit Choices
    • Apples contain five grams of fiber, make sure you wash the apple really well and eat the skin to get all the fiber.
    • Blackberries and Raspberries contain 8 grams of fiber per cup! 
    • 1/2 of an avocado gives you five grams of fiber
  • Best Vegetable Choices
    • Green peas pack seven grams in 1/2 cup.
    • Brussels Sprouts have five grams per cup. 
  • Top Whole Grain Choices
    • Try quinoa (Keen-wa). This whole grain delivers five grams in one cup.
    • Popcorn delivers four grams of fiber in three cups.
  • Beans average around seven grams of fiber in ½ cup.

2. FAT is actually good for you

Fat is good for you when it is the right kind of fat. Incorporate the following foods into your diet to lower triglycerides.

  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Olive Oil

3. Always get OMEGAs

  • Go FISH! Adding fish to your diet at least two times per week is recommended to get a good dose of omega-3 fats for heart health, and can lower triglycerides, as well as fight inflammation.
    • Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, albacore tuna, and sardines are especially high in omega-3s. 
  • Other sources of omegas are walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds. 
  • Omegas are also found in spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts.

3 FOODS TO LIMIT/AVOID IN YOUR DIET TO LOWER TRIGLYCERIDES 

1. SUGAR

  • Try to keep grams of added sugar to under 25 per day. This includes honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, table sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup. There are about 50 products that are forms of sugar that show up in our food, so it may be difficult to recognize all of them in the ingredient listing. Just make sure to read the label to see how many grams of sugar are in each serving before you dig in. You will find added sugar in baked goods such as muffins, pop tarts, and cookies; beverages such as sweet tea, soda, and coffee drinks; candy; breakfast cereals such as flavored oatmeal packets and cold cereals; and flavored yogurt and ice cream.

2. PROCESSED FOOD

  • As a general rule, if you wouldn’t use an ingredients listed on the label to cook with at home, then don’t buy it.
  • Processed foods are foods that have been changed from their natural state for added taste, texture, convenience, safety reasons or to extend their shelf life. Processed food tends to have fewer nutrients yet more fat, more sugar and more salt. Not to mention so much of today’s food supply is full of chemicals, additives, hormones, preservatives and genetically modified ingredients. It is best to try to avoid these as much as possible as they increase the toxic burden on the liver. 

Growing research supports that processed foods do more harm than what previously was thought.

  • Trans fat is one of the most widely recognized processed fats and has been removed from many products due to its ability to increase cholesterol and a link to breast cancer. The FDA requires that this be labeled separately to inform consumers when it’s included in a product.
  • Food dyes have been banned in other countries. These coloring agents have been linked to ADHD, asthma and inflammatory skin conditions. 
  • Artificial sweeteners have been linked with decreasing your good gut microbes that support a healthy immune system. 
  • Sulfites, a common preservative, cannot be used in products that have vitamin B1 because it destroys this vitamin. The FDA banned the use of sulfites on fruits and vegetables in 1986. They are examining whether or not to ban it from other uses. Sulfites have been found to aggravate asthma in children and adults. 
  • BHA and BHT have been banned in England and the state of California lists this ingredient as a possible carcinogen. 

3. ALCOHOL

Alcohol consumption is one cause of high triglycerides. The impact of alcohol depends greatly on the individual. The current recommended limit of alcohol is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Some people find even small amounts of alcohol can raise their triglycerides.

PATIENCE IS KEY

We are all individuals and our bodies will all respond differently to dietary changes. Just because some people lower their cholesterol through a vegetarian diet does not mean it will work for you. Some people find that they lower cholesterol just by doing one of the following or a combination of the following: adding avocados daily, exercising three times per week, adding fish oil to the diet, cutting out all sugar, decreasing red meat consumption and/or adding more fiber to their diet.  It is important to make the necessary diet changes and then follow-up and get retested at least three months later. If your levels did not improve, you may want to seek out the help of a registered dietitian to help you choose and implement the right dietary changes for you.