To be heart-healthy, ensuring healthy levels of cholesterol is a good first step. Cleveland Clinic registered dietitian Julia Zumpano shares these diet tips:
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1. Cut back on animal fats
Forgo fatty meats, such as chicken or turkey with the skin; processed meats, such as bologna, salami and pepperoni; and fatty red meats, such as ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Also avoid full-fat dairy products such as cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol.
2. Make friends with fiber
Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, soluble fiber can bind to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and remove it. Look for soluble fiber in oats, flaxseed, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits and root vegetables, as well as some whole-grain cereals, cereal bars and pastas.
3. Go veggie
Choose at least one meatless meal per week. Substitute beans, tofu or nuts for red meat or poultry in a bean burrito or a tofu stir-fry to decrease your saturated fat intake and increase your fiber intake. Shoot for one meatless meal —breakfast, lunch or dinner — per day!
4. Be a loser
If you’re overweight or obese, shed the extra pounds. Weight loss helps lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Even small-to-moderate weight loss — just 10 to 20 pounds — can make an impact.