The next time your midday hunger is growling, have a nice sandwich on whole wheat bread with some lean turkey and lots of fresh veggies (hold the mayo). Skip the hot dogs, bologna and salami; highly processed meats are filled with fat and cholesterol.
Dive into a meal of fish high in heart-healthy omega-3s. Fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel are a great catch. (If you aren't into fish, you can get omega-3s from flax seed and flax seed oil.)
Not only do trans fats raise the "bad for you" LDL cholesterol, they can also lower your "good for you" HDL cholesterol levels. Stay away from foods like margarine, shortening, and processed foods containing partially hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fat is also listed on the nutrition labels of packaged foods).
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews and pecans may be high in fat, but the fat is unsaturated and considered heart-healthy.
Instead of reaching for the richest, most decadent dessert, go for healthier ones with less fat and fewer calories. Opt for angel food cake and fruit, fruit smoothies, graham crackers, Jell-O, low-fat frozen yogurt or light ice cream.
Fiber is a superstar when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Make whole grains, whole wheat bread, high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, and beans the foundation of your diet. (And when choosing packaged foods, look for a label that says "may help lower cholesterol.")
Cooking methods such as broiling, roasting and grilling can help reduce your fat intake when it comes to meats. Instead of letting meat sit in a fatty sauce or its own fat, these cooking methods allow for some of the fat to drip off. Another heart-healthy move is to choose leaner cuts of meat even before you start cooking.
Salads are naturally beneficial for heart-health and lowering cholesterol – as long as they are tossed in a heart-healthy dressing and aren't laden with bacon bits and fried croutons. Make your salad with a bounty of fresh veggies and fruit for a delicious dose of fiber. Then, ditch the store-bought salad dressing (many of them are high in saturated or trans fats) and make your own by whisking together extra virgin olive oil, herbs and vinegar or lemon juice.
Fruits and veggies contain no cholesterol, are low in calories, provide a delectable array of tastes and textures, and are packed with fiber and antioxidants. Aim for 5 to 10 servings per day and eat a wide variety for the best range of beneficial nutrients.
In addition to fatty hamburgers, forgo those French fries and any other foods cooked in the deep fryer. Fast food items are typically high in saturated and trans fats, calories and sodium, all of which are bad for the heart.
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