Cholesterol and Triglycerides – these are two words that you would have probably heard a lot. This is primarily because more and more people are concerned about their cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels these days! If you’re wondering why, the answer is because they are major risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol and triglycerides in your body It is normal to have cholesterol in the body as it is used for manufacturing cell membranes and some hormones, and also serves other needed bodily functions. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in the body and are a major source of energy. They come from the food that you eat as well as from your body. However, you should be aware that too much cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood can negatively affect heart health. The good news is that following a healthy diet helps in reducing high blood cholesterol and triglycerides and also prevents them from increasing.
What should I eat? Aim to consume foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. To clarify, there are 2 main types of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are mainly found in animal products (butter, ghee, high fat meats, etc), whereas unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and beneficial to heart health (olive oil and other vegetable oils).
Good to know Cholesterol is only found in animal sources and not present in plant foods! Thus vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are inherently cholesterol-free.
What foods should I choose for better heart health?
- Fruits and vegetables (choose 5 or more servings per day)
- Grains especially whole grains like whole-wheat bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice and pasta (choose 6 or more servings per day)
- Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (2 to 4 servings per day)
- Lean meats like lean beef and veal, skinless chicken or turkey (choose up to 180 grams per day)
- Fish (at least 2-3 servings baked or grilled each week)
- Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds in limited amounts
- Vegetable oils in moderation, such as canola, corn, olive, sunflower and soybean
What foods should I limit?
- Whole milk, high fat yellow cheese, cream and regular ice cream
- Butter and egg yolks and foods made with them
- Organ meats like liver, kidney and brain
- High-fat and processed meats like sausage, salami, pastrami and hot dogs
- Bakery goods made with egg yolks, butter, shortening or whole milk
- Saturated oils such as coconut oil and palm oil
- Solid fats like shortening and margarine
- Fried foods
If I have high cholesterol, how many eggs can I have per week?
- Limit your intake to 2-3 whole eggs per week (boiled, not fried) since the egg yolk is high in cholesterol.
Some cooking tips to take into consideration:
- Broil or grill or bake instead of deep frying
- Cut off all visible fat from meat before cooking, and take off the skin from chickenUse a vegetable oil spray to brown or sauté foods
- Make egg-containing recipes with egg whites, not yolks
- Instead of regular cheeses and whole milk, use fat-free or low-fat cheeses and milk in your recipes As you can see, taking steps to lower your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels isn’t a difficult thing to do. Following these food tips will ensure that you feel the difference. Your blood cholesterol and triglyceride values will improve and you’ll also more likely feel lighter, healthier and more energetic.