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Heart Healthy Diet: Eight Easy Steps to Prevent Heart Disease, Part III of IV

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4. Reduce unhealthy fats and cholesterol (con’t)

The best way to reduce trans fats and saturated fats from your diet is to limit the solid fats like butter, shortening and margarine you add to food.   Also you can limit the amount of saturated fat by trimming fat off your meat or choosing leaner meats ideally with less than 10 percent fat.

Using low-fat substitutions helps when possible to achieve a heart healthy diet.   For example, rather than top your baked potato sour cream or butter use salsa or low-fat yogurt, or instead of butter or margarine use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast.

It is also important to check the food labels of cookies, crackers and chips.   Many of these snacks, even though they are labeled as reduced fat, may often be made with oils containing trans fats.   If the ingredient list contains the phrase “partially hydrogenated”  the food has some trans fats.

When you do use fats, monounsaturated fats are best, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in seeds and nuts and seeds, also are good choices.   Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol, when used in place of saturated fat.   Keep in mind moderation is essential as all types of fat are highly caloric.

Table 4 Fats to choose and avoid

Heart Healthy Way

  • Cholesterol lowering margarine
  • Margarine free of trans fats
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

The Other Way

  • Palm, coconut, cottonseed oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Shortening or hydrogenated margarine
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Bacon fat
  • Lard
  • Butter

5. Choose low-fat protein sources


Low Fat Meat and Dairy Image

Poultry, lean meat and fish, egg whites or egg substitutes, and low-fat dairy products, are your best sources of protein.   Choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken rather than fried chicken patties.

Fish is a great alternative to high-fat meats. As a bonus certain fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can also lower blood fats called triglycerides.  The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and herring.  Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids  can be found in walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and soybeans.

Legumes like pea, beans, and lentils are great sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them ideal substitutes for meat.   Further, by substituting plant protein for animal protein, like soy or bean burger for a hamburger will reduce your cholesterol and fat intake.

Table 5 Protein to choose and avoid

Heart Healthy Way

  •  Lean ground meats
  • Soybean products like tofu
  • Legumes
  • Skinless poultry
  • Fatty cold water fish like salmon
  • Egg whites
  • Low fat dairy products (skim milk, low fat cheese and yogurt)

The Other Way

  • Fried or breaded meats
  • Bacon
  • Sausages and hot dogs
  • Cold cuts and ribs
  • Fatty or marbled meats
  • Egg yolks
  • Liver
  • Full fat dairy products


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