High cholesterol increases the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, 40-50% of Americans have cholesterol levels above the recommended upper limit of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
What can you do to lower your cholesterol? Being active and eating healthy are a good start. If you follow a few simple guidelines and visit your health practitioner regularly, you will be on your way to lowering your heart disease risk.
Eating to lower your cholesterol can be easy if you learn a few simple tricks for eating healthy while still enjoying your favorite foods. The secret lies in how we prepare the foods we love.
A few minor, simple changes to your favorite recipes can make them healthier. While some substitutions may change the taste of certain foods, you may find that you like the new taste better. Just remember to always keep an open mind, or else you may talk yourself out of liking a perfectly tasty food.
- Instead of using shortening or butter when baking, use fruit purees like applesauce or prune puree for half the fat.
- As a topping for garlic bread, veggies, waffles, rice or noodles, use a spray butter instead of regular butter.
- Buy skim or 1% milk.
- When sautéing veggies or meats, opt for a fat-free cooking spray, spray butter or low-sodium broth.
- Buy low-fat or non-fat versions of cheeses and creams, like sour cream or whipping cream. Add low-fat cheeses near the end of cooking times for the best results.
- Egg substitutes are real eggs, just without the yolk (which contains most of the fat). Try them in recipes and when making scrambled eggs. 2 egg whites or 1/2 cup = 1 egg. If baked goods end up too hard, whip the egg whites before adding them.
- Instead of frying, try baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, poaching, roasting, stir-frying or even cooking in the microwave.
- Use low-fat versions of mayonnaise and salad dressings. Try substituting mustard and vinegar for high fat sauces to keep the flavor without the fat.
- Buy canned meats, like canned tuna, that are packed in water instead of oil.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat and remove the skin from poultry. Also, drain the juice when browning meat in a skillet when cooking fattier meats.
- Eat low-fat frozen yogurt – add your favorite fruit to mix things up and create new flavors.
- For a cool treat, mix together 100 percent fruit juice and fresh fruit pieces, pour the mixture into popsicle molds, and freeze to make your own popsicles!
Other healthy habits include eating a handful of nuts (like almonds or walnuts) every day and fish twice a week. As you can see, you don’t have to take foods out of your diet to be healthy. Being healthy just requires knowing what foods should be eaten in moderation and how to prepare foods in healthy ways!