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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Choose Low Cholesterol Alternatives

If you have been surprised by high cholesterol readings from your latest visit to the doctor, you are not alone. Whether through heredity, lifestyle, or a combination of both, having high cholesterol is a common health problem that raises the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

The good news is that cholesterol numbers can improve through lifestyle changes. Healthy eating is one of the most significant lifestyle changes recommended by the Mayo Clinic to help lower cholesterol. Here are some ways you can choose low cholesterol alternatives to help improve your health.

Better Snacking

Potato chips are on their way out as a snack food, but that does not mean that you have to feel deprived. In addition to snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts are a great option. They quiet a rumbling stomach before dinner time, and are full of protein, omega-3 and essential minerals. They may even lower LDL cholesterol levels. Walnuts are a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. To make vegetables more palatable to snack on, try a mashed chickpea dip called hummus. It has tons of fiber and no saturated fat.

Healthy Salad Toppings

Salads full of nutritious and high fiber fruits and vegetables are great, but their benefits can almost be cancelled out by creamy high fat dressings and high sodium croutons with little nutrition. Choose a simple dressing made from olive oil, your choice of vinegar, and a salt free spice blend. Add some canned beans such as kidney or cannellini for extra color and texture in your salad that will add extra nutrition without cholesterol. Here are some great ideas for assembling a great heart healthy salad. They include adding extra vegetables, whole grains, fruit, herbs and proteins to the standard salad that make it a meal.

Good Meat Choices

In order to increase the effectiveness of your efforts to lower your cholesterol, consumption of red meat must be reduced. Increasing fish consumption is one way to promote lower cholesterol. Replacing red meat with fish such as salmon gives you a rich taste that is full of fats that are good for you. Lean ground turkey can replace ground beef in your favorite casseroles and burgers, especially if you season it with a high quality herb and spice blend. There are some good turkey bacon options that can satisfy your craving as well. Even if you are a pork bacon purist, there is an option for you. Canadian bacon is actually lean ham slices and contains one quarter of the fat of standard bacon.

Go Plant Based

By choosing more foods made from plants, you are reducing your exposure to foods that are heavy in saturated fat and carbohydrates. Vegetables, fruits, and legumes should be the centerpiece of your low cholesterol diet. Thanks to forward thinking food producers, the choices will not need to be so hard into the future, because even foods that are in packages at the market can be healthy and plant based. Hampton Creek is a company that started out by making Just Mayo, a mayonnaise alternative that substitutes yellow field peas for eggs in order to emulsify its spread.

Smarter Bread Choices

Skip the saturated fat-laden pastries made with butter and sugar for breakfast. Instead, choose whole grain toast dressed up with a little peanut butter or no sugar added jam. You will avoid the fat while adding fiber to the first meal of the day.

Choose Dark Chocolate

Even though you want to adapt to a healthier diet, you can still have a treat once in a while. Skip the carbohydrate heavy candy and opt for dark chocolate. The oleic acid in cocoa butter is a monounsaturated fat that can lower LDL cholesterol. You will want to skip milk chocolate because it contains saturated fat, but dark chocolate with 70 to 80 percent cocoa is a great treat choice that may raise the level of your good HDL cholesterol.

There have been many advances in the treatment of high cholesterol, from the awareness of the importance of diet to cholesterol lowering medications. Treating high cholesterol as soon as possible after its onset will decrease your chances of a heart attack or stroke. Proper low fat eating, combined with exercise and quitting smoking, may be enough to avoid having to take statin medication. Even if you inherited your high cholesterol, making modifications to your eating habits and lifestyle can positively impact your cholesterol numbers.

This is a guest blog post.

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