Do you have high cholesterol? The best diet plan to protect your arteries

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Also known as hyperlipidemia, high cholesterol means there’s too many fats in your blood – notably cholesterol and triglycerides. These can clump together and stick to the artery walls in a process known as atherosclerosis.

The American Heart Association (AHA) asserted that “high cholesterol can be lowered”.

“The best way to lower your cholesterol is to reduce your intake of saturated fat and trans fat,” stated the AHA.

What are saturated fats?

Typically solid at room temperature, the majority of saturated fats come from animal sources.

Fatty cuts of beef, lamb, and pork are examples of foods high in saturated fat.

In addition, so are lard, cream, butter, cheese and dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (two percent) milk.

Many baked goods and fried foods can contain high levels of saturated fats too.

What are trans fats?

There are “naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats”, clarified the AHA.

Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals, and foods made from these animals; examples include milk and meat products.

Artificial trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to “make them more solid”.

Trans fats are an inexpensive, long-lasting product that can “give foods a desirable taste and texture”.

“Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers,” explained the ADA.

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As trans fats can be labelled as “partially hydrogenated oils”, look out for it on nutrition labels, in particular keep an eye on:

  • Baked goods
  • Doughnuts
  • Cakes
  • Pie crusts
  • Biscuits
  • Frozen pizza
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Stick margarines
  • Spreads

In order to minimise how much saturated fat and trans fats you have in your diet, you need to focus on healthy eating.

A heart-healthy diet is usually best when it comes to reducing your cholesterol levels.

This type of diet emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and “nontropical vegetable oils”.

Healthy cooking oils

Otherwise referred to as “nontropical vegetable oils” by the ADA, these are the following cooking oils:

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Safflower
  • Soybean
  • Sunflower

If you do want to choose lean cuts of meat (with minimal visible fat), consider the following:

  • Beef – round, chuck, sirloin or loin cut of meat
  • Pork – tenderloin or loin chop
  • Lamb – leg, arm, or loin

Do trim all visible fat from meat before cooking, and if you’re opting for “ground beef” then choose the “extra lean” version.

Fish

Choose oily fish, such as salmon, trout and herring – these are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Shrimp, crab and lobster are also good choices in place of many cuts of meat and poultry.

Meatless meals featuring vegetables and beans are an easy way to lower your cholesterol.

Examples of tasty vegetarian meals include aubergine lasagna, or a big, grilled mushroom burger.

Vegetables

Adding herbs and spices to vegetables can really make them taste delicious. If you’d like any ideas, the ADA suggests the following:

  • Rosemary with peas, cauliflower and squash
  • Oregano with courgette
  • Dill with green beans
  • Marjoram with Brussels sprouts, carrots and spinach
  • Basil with tomatoes

Chopped parsley and chives sprinkled on before serving can also add a burst of flavour to your meals.

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