- Eat more fruits and veggies: Make them part of your snack time. By committing to do this often there is no more room for processed snacks. Fruits and veggies are a great quick snack to have on hand. Pair them with some type of protein (string cheese, cottage cheese, peanut butter, 6-12 nuts) to help make you feel satisfied until your next meal time.
- Include 3 servings of dairy a day (fat free milk, light yogurt, 1oz low fat cheese): Dairy products are also a great quick snack to have on hand. The natural mix of carbohydrates and protein in milk and yogurt is perfect for a mid day or post workout snack.
- Choose whole grain, high-fiber foods: Fiber can help keep you full longer and is also known to help decrease the risk of heart disease. Aim for 25-25 grams of fiber a day. Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, and popcorn are a good source of fiber.
- Include fish into your diet: It is recommended to eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish (8oz total) a week. Some fish high in essential fatty acids include salmon, sardines, and halibut. By including these fatty fish into your diet you may help reduce your risk of death from coronary heart disease.
- Cook with olive oil: A diet rich in olive oil can help increase your good cholesterol (HDL). Other foods that consist of these healthful monounsaturated fats include canola oil, hazelnuts, avocados, pecans, and pistachios.
- Increase consumption of plant sterols: Many foods are fortified with plant sterols which help reduce our bad cholesterol (LDL). Add foods that contain plant sterols into your diet. Some examples include fortified margarines, milk, organic juice, pasta, bread, and cheese. Look on the label to find those foods with plan sterols added. It is recommended that individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol get 2g/d of plant sterols.
- Add moderate amounts of alcohol into your diet (if you drink): Anything in excess can be harmful but research has shown that a maximum of 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men (12oz beer, 4oz wine, 1.5oz 80 proof spirits, or 1oz 100 proof spirits) may have beneficial effects.
- Choose lean meats: When we think of lean meat we often think of white meat (chicken and turkey). There are also many lean beef cuts available and they are an important part of a well balanced diet. Some lean cuts of beef include round, sirloin, chuck, and loin. Lean and extra lean ground beef are also part of the heart-healthy diet recommendations.
- Add beans and lentils into your diet: Research has shown that consumption of 3 cups per week (1/2 c. per day) or beans or lentils helps reduce intake of saturated fats and total fat. Beans and lentils are natural foods that are very high in fiber.
Don't feel like you have to make all these changes at once. Pick one suggestion above to work on and make a goal to included those foods into your weekly menu. Then next week pick another. Small steps can make a big difference! Here's to you!