Guidelines For Heart-Healthy
Six Guidelines To Healthy Living
Whatever your blood cholesterol level, you can make
changes to help lower it or keep it low and reduce your risk for heart disease.
These are guidelines for heart-healthy living that the whole family (including
children ages 2 and above) can follow:
1) Choose foods low in saturated fat
All foods that contain fat are made up of a mixture
of saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fat raises your blood cholesterol
level more than anything else you eat. The best way to reduce blood cholesterol
is to choose foods lower in saturated fat. One way to help your family do this
is by choosing foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains--foods
naturally low in total fat and high in starch and fiber.
2) Choose foods low in total fat
Since many foods high in total fat are also high in
saturated fat, eating foods low in total fat will help your family eat less
saturated fat. When you do eat fat, substitute unsaturated fat--either
polyunsaturated or monounsaturated--for saturated fat. Fat is a rich source of
calories, so eating foods low in fat will also help you eat fewer calories.
Eating fewer calories can help you lose weight--and, if you are overweight,
losing weight is an important part of lowering your blood cholesterol. (Consult
your family doctor if you have a concern about your child's weight.)
3) Choose foods high in starch and fiber
Foods high in starch and fiber are excellent
substitutes for foods high in saturated fat. These foods--breads, cereals,
pasta, grains, fruits, and vegetables--are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
They are also lower in calories than foods that are high in fat. But limit fatty
toppings and spreads like butter and sauces made with cream and whole milk dairy
products. Foods high in starch and fiber are also good sources of vitamins and
When eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat
and cholesterol, foods with soluble fiber--like oat and barley bran and dry peas
and beans--may help to lower blood cholesterol.
4) Choose foods low in cholesterol
Remember, dietary cholesterol can raise blood
cholesterol, although usually not as much as saturated fat. So it's important
for your family to choose foods low in dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol
is found only in foods that come from animals. And even if an animal food is low
in saturated fat, it may be high in cholesterol; for instance, organ meats like
liver and egg yolks are low in saturated fat but high in cholesterol. Egg whites
and foods from plant sources do not have cholesterol.
5) Be more physically active
Being physically active helps improve blood
cholesterol levels: it can raise HDL and lower LDL. Being more active also can
help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve the fitness of your
heart and blood vessels, and reduce stress. And being active together is great
for the entire family.
6) Maintain a healthy weight, and lose weight if
you are overweight
People who are overweight tend to have higher
blood cholesterol levels than people of a healthy weight. Overweight adults with
an "apple" shape--bigger (pot) belly--tend to have a higher risk for
heart disease than those with a "pear" shape--bigger hips and thighs.
Whatever your body shape, when you cut the fat in
your diet, you cut down on the richest source of calories. A family eating
pattern high in starch and fiber instead of fat is a good way to help control
weight. Do not go on crash diets that are very low in calories since they can be
harmful to your health. If you are overweight, losing even a little weight can
help to lower LDL-cholesterol and raise HDL-cholesterol.
The Guidelines Work: Eat the Heart Healthy Way
Look at how your family eats now and begin to plan.
You don't have to cut out all high saturated fat, high cholesterol foods. Just
substitute one or two low saturated fat or low cholesterol foods each day, and
soon you will reach your goal of heart-healthy eating for you and your family.
By making the changes slowly, you are more likely to stick with your new eating