Heart Healthy Menu

002A good heart healthy menu may also be classified as a low fat/low cholesterol diet.  The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to promote good health but too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol will cause damage to your heart and other organs.  Cholesterol comes from the foods you eat and it is also manufactured by your body.  Menus that are heart healthy take in consideration the amount of good cholesterol the body needs from the daily intake of foods as well as limiting the intake of the bad cholesterol.

What is a low fat/low cholesterol diet?

A low fat/low cholesterol diet is about limiting the amount of saturated fats and trans fats ingested each day.  Why?  The LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind of cholesterol, is increased when too much trans fat or saturated fats are included in the daily meal plan.  The HDL or the good cholesterol levels are decreased when too much of the wrong fats are ingested every day.  This will definitely lead to a big risk factor for heart disease.

gestational diabetesHigh fiber foods like natural vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts will help to decrease cholesterol levels. Fill up on these natural foods and half the battle against heart disease is already won.

Eating at least two servings of fish like salmon is a great way to get a sufficient amount of the good fat, omega-3 fatty acids that will go a long way in the prevention of a stroke or heart disease.  Other good fish choices are cold water fish, flounder, oysters, sole, tuna, lobster, swordfish and trout.

In fact, these foods are also known as great ‘fat fighters’:
Foods containing Flavnoids

  • apples
  • broad beans
  • chocolate
  • leeks
  • onions
  • pears
  • sweet peppers
  • tea

A low cholesterol diet will limit the total number of fat grams ingested daily.  Foods like snack foods, sweets, salad dressing, fried foods, hard margarine, desserts and butter are all known to contain trans fats or saturated fats.  These need to be limited for sure.  How the food is prepared makes a big difference in the daily amounts of fats or cholesterol.  Cooking foods will often require adding oils so make sure these are high in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil.

Cholesterol and saturated fats usually hang out in the same foods.  Making good choices of the foods you eat means choosing as many slow or complex carbohydrates as possible like sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, whole-wheat pasta instead of pasta made with white flour, whole-grain breads instead of white bread.  Little changes to your eating habits will go a long way toward a healthy heart.

Eating one egg a day for a healthy person is acceptable but a better choice is egg whites.  Some fresh salsa added makes this a very tasty morning treat.  All of your food choices need to be heart-smart friendly.  Reading the labels is a must these days.  The first four ingredients listed on the label will tell you the highest quantities that the food contains.  Watch for the cholesterol levels on the foods labels.  The recommended daily requirement of cholesterol should not exceed 300 milligrams in a healthy person.  Don’t forget about the liquids you take each day.  These too can be laden with heart damaging ingredients like excessive simple sugar or chemicals in diet drinks like aspartame.  Choosing an herbal tea instead of soda or tea sweetened with sugar is always a better idea for your heart’s health.

Finding the right balance of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol is no easy task.  The best course of action is to follow a well constructed heart healthy menu that includes a low fat/low cholesterol diet plan.

About Mathea

Mathea Ford, RD/LD, is the owner of Healthy Diet Menus For You, LLC. She has over 22 books on Amazon, check out her work at http://www.renaldiethq.com/go/author

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