Healthy foods for the heart

Monday, January 4, 2010
Healthy foods for your heart.

Need to lower your blood cholesterol? Change your diet to one that is low in saturated fats and follow general healthy eating guidelines.

It's easier than you think to change your eating pattern to one that is much healthier and lower in the "bad fats". Here's what you need to do:

  • Go for margarine spreads instead of butter or dairy blends.
  • Cook with a variety of oils — great choices include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive and peanut.
  • Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and olive.
  • Choose low- or reduced-fat milk and yogurt or "added calcium" soy beverages.
  • Try to limit cheese and ice-cream to twice a week.
  • Eat fish (any type, fresh or canned) at least twice a week.
  • Choose lean meat (trimmed of fat, chicken without skin). Try to limit fatty meats including sausages and delicatessen meats such as salami.
  • Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit.
  • Incorporate dried peas (for example, split peas), dried beans (for example, haricot beans, kidney beans), canned beans (for example, baked beans, three-bean mix) or lentils into two meals a week.
  • Make vegetables and grain-based foods such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, noodles and rice the major part of each meal.
  • Limit takeaway foods (pastries, pies, pizza, hamburgers and creamy pasta dishes) to once a week.
  • Limit snack foods (potato crisps, corn chips) to once a week.
  • Limit cakes, pastries and chocolate or creamy biscuits to once a week.

Plant-based foods
By eliminating foods high in saturated fat from your diet, you may find you now have a gap in your daily food intake. Replace the bad foods with more the following healthier options. They're low in saturated fats, higher in the poly and monounsaturated fats and are good sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals:

  • Bread (preferably wholegrain)
  • Cereals (preferably wholegrain)
  • Pasta, rice, noodles
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes (for example, kidney beans, baked beans, lentils)

Cholesterol in food
So-called "dietary" cholesterol is found only in animal products. There is none in avocado, nuts, vegetable oils, grains, fruit or vegetables.

Cholesterol in food can raise cholesterol in the blood, but not to the same extent as saturated fats. If you're at risk of heart disease you should restrict your intake of cholesterol foods such asofffal (for example, brains, liver, kidneys) and egg yolks.

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