A diet that is healthy for your heart is one that is low in cholesterol, salt and fat. It is important to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol, which is animal fat, every day according to the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, you should make sure to limit trans fats to only 1% of your daily calories and saturated fat to only 7% of those calories. It is also recommended by the American Heart Association that you get no more than 1,500 mg of sodium, about 3/4 tsp. of salt daily. Luckily, there are a large variety of foods that are low in fat, salt and cholesterol.
What the Normal Cholesterol Levels
The following numbers are the recommended cholesterol levels for men and women as established by experts:
– Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
– HDL cholesterol: between 40 and 59 mg/dL with over 60 mg/dL ideal
– LDL cholesterol: lower than 100 mg/dL
– Triglycerides: below 150 mg/dL
For complete information on the healthy levels, you can refer to the following pages:
– Normal Cholesterol Levels Chart – Total, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides http://www.cholesterollevels.net/
– Cholesterol Levels Chart – Total, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides http://www.cholesterolmenu.com/cholesterol-levels-chart/
Dietary Cholesterol Recommendations
You are at a much greater danger of having heart disease, along with clogged arteries, if you have high cholesterol. Although saturated fat does affect cholesterol levels even more than cholesterol from your diet, the latter does make a difference. According to the recommendations of the AHA, you should limit your daily intake of cholesterol to 300 mg. and no more. The only foods that contain cholesterol are animal proteins, including full-fat dairy products, meats and eggs. These are the main sources of cholesterol in the diet. You can limit your intake of cholesterol if you use fat-free dairy products and plant-based sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds or legumes.
Fruits and Vegetables
The good news is that both vegetables and fruits have no cholesterol and are low in fat. It is recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program that you should eat at least three to five servings daily of vegetables and fruits. This is fairly easy to do, because you can use vegetables and fruits in side dishes, in a salad, or even as your main dish. It’s good to have no-meat meals at times. Another tip is to keep carrot sticks, fruits and celery always available to have for your snack. It is okay to eat frozen, canned or fresh fruit, but try to keep away from products with sugar added. Also, it is good to have steamed or raw vegetables as part of your meals. At the same time, try not to have cream-style vegetables or those that have been fried.
Implement Healthy Cooking Methods
You will be able to add flavor to your diet without adding a lot of high-salt foods, oils and other fatty choices. If your food is cooked in an unhealthy way, it doesn’t matter if you buy the healthiest foods. Doing that completely defeats the purpose of eating well. If you use cooked methods that are healthy, you will be able to have low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-calorie foods all the time. The good ways to cook include, poaching, baking without extra oil, steaming, boiling, grilling and broiling. According to the American Heart Association, you can use spices in place of salt to keep down the sodium in your food because spices don’t contain any fat or cholesterol and their salt content is low. So use unsaturated oils that are heart-healthy and plant-based. For example, oils like cottonseed, olive, sunflower and/or soy make a great choice.
Foods to Avoid
To follow a meal plan that is low in carbohydrates, you will not be able to eat grains, sugary foods, bread, rice and legumes. You should also try not to eat starchy vegetables like squash, beets, peas, potatoes, grapes, cherries, berries and bananas. Also, to ensure that your cholesterol and fat levels stay low, you should avoid egg yolks, butter, processed snacks, fried dishes, fatty meats and chicken skin.