Eat smart for your heart
You’ve heard it time and time again – if you care about your heart, high blood-cholesterol is a health risk you can’t afford to ignore.
Too much saturated fat is the main dietary cause for high cholesterol levels. That's why saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of your total calories.
Try these tips to help you keep your saturated fat intake and your cholesterol levels down, and improve your weight control while you're at it.
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Next time you’re about to gulp down a serving of fries, picture this: All the fat in those fries is going to congeal into one solid greasy lump which travels through your body into your blood vessels and comes to rest along your artery walls. Still want fries with that?
This image is not exactly text-book, but essentially it’s what happens when you overload on saturated fat. Your body reacts by making more cholesterol than it needs, and the surplus ends up in your blood, clogging up your arteries and preventing blood flow, and may eventually lead to a heart attack.
Burgers, hot dogs, fries and most other fast-foods are high in saturated fat, so try to avoid them. Don’t be fooled by words like “flame-grilled” either – that doesn't translate to low-fat or low-cholesterol.
Olive or canola oil is a heart-healthier alternative to butter
As well as avoiding fried and take-away foods, there are several other ways to reduce saturated fat intake. Allan Borushek, (the Calorie King!), offers these tips:
- When it comes to dairy products, choose low-fat or skim milk, yoghurt, cheese, and ice cream.
- Avoid adding cream to desserts.
- Choose lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry, and avoid processed meats and sausages.
- Enjoy fish instead; fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fat, which is good for cholesterol levels.
- Cook with vegetable oils such as canola, olive, sunflower and rice bran instead of butter or margarine.
- Be careful to limit cakes, pastries and biscuits, as most of these are high in fat and contain hydrogenated vegetable fats. (Hydrogenated vegetable fats are a form of trans fat which also raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease).