Choose heart-healthy fats. Saturated (animal) and trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. Worse, trans fats found in commercial baked goods, snack foods and many deep-fried items also decrease HDL (good) cholesterol. Choose lean cuts of meat, poultry breast and low-fat dairy products.
Read the Nutrition Facts box on packaged foods. Choose foods with a daily value of no more than 10 per cent for saturated plus trans fats.
Choose unsaturated fats such as polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils and monounsaturated fats in olive oil, avocado and almonds. These can help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) and reduce inflammation.
Eat fatty fish. Oily fish like salmon, trout and sardines contain DHA and EPA, omega-3 fats linked to protection from heart attack. These fats make the blood less likely to form clots, reduce inflammation and protect against irregular heartbeats that can cause sudden cardiac death. An intake of at least 500 milligrams of DHA and EPA (combined) per day is recommended to help prevent heart disease. To increase your intake, eat oily fish twice a week. If you don't like fish, take a fish oil supplement.
Increase soluble fibre. Consume at least three grams of soluble fibre each day to help lower LDL cholesterol. Good sources include oats, oat bran, psyllium, flaxseed and barley. One cup of cooked oat bran, 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal and 1/3 cup of Kellogg's All Bran Buds each provide three grams of soluble fibre.
Add legumes and nuts. Include legumes (soybeans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils) to your diet at least four times a week. Add legumes to salads, soups, chili and tacos. Eat a small handful of unsalted nuts at least five times a week. Toss nuts into a stir-fry, sprinkle over hot cereal or enjoy them as a snack. Researchers attribute the cardio-protective effects of legumes and nuts to the vegetarian protein, fibre, folate, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants they contain.
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