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Steps to a Healthier Cholesterol Level
Get at least 30 minutes of “heart-pumping” exercise every day to raise high-density lipoprotein
(HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol in your bloodstream. Do a variety of activities to
benefit the muscles in all parts of your body. Some ideas to try are:
 Brisk walking or running
 Cycling
 Swimming
 Zumba
 Aerobics
Choose fat-free and low-fat dairy products. Eat less butter, red meat, sausage, bacon, and tropical
oils (coconut and palm). Plan your meals with plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, and
whole grains. Include smaller amounts of foods from animal sources, aiming for foods low in
saturated fat but high in protein, such as nonfat dairy products, fish, and egg whites. Cut even
more saturated fat intake by taking the skin from chicken and turkey, trimming the fat from meat,
and choosing lean beef, pork, lamb, or veal.
Avoid foods with trans fat or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. They are found in fried and
processed foods, margarine, and baked goods. Always check the ingredients on food labels. Aim
for less than 2 grams (g) or 1% of your total daily calories in trans fat each day.
Eat foods that are naturally high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Try eating more of these
foods high in soluble fiber:
 Oats
 Fruits
 Root vegetables
 Barley
 Flaxseeds
Eat unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated and omega-3s. Cook with canola oil or olive
oil. Avoid frying foods. When baking, replace oil or melted butter with an equal amount of plain
applesauce. Enjoy nuts and seeds regularly (1 ounce = 1 serving). Eat a 3-ounce serving of fatty
(high in omega-3s) fish at least twice each week.
2010 Developed by: Helenia Sedoski, WVU Dietetic Intern
Get in touch with your body’s feelings of fullness. Eat four to six smaller meals each day, instead
of one or two large meals. This keeps you full through the day and helps you avoid overeating
when you are hungry. Drink plenty of water between meals and with your meals.
Consider eating foods, beverages, and condiments containing plant sterols or stanols to help
reduce LDL cholesterol. Plant sterols/stanols are found in some brands of margarine, yogurt, and
salad dressing.
Eat less added sugar to help lower fats called triglycerides in your blood and manage your
weight. Limit these foods which are loaded with added sugars:
 Sodas
 Juices and juice drinks
 Baked goods
 Candy
 Sweetened beverages, such as iced tea and coffee
 Many breakfast cereals
If you are overweight and trying to lose weight, all of the above steps will help you. Focus on
your health as your number one priority, instead of a specific weight goal. Making small changes
to improve your health will boost your confidence and help you feel your best. Gradually add
more movement, steps, and overall activity to every day.
Harsha DW, Lin PH, Obarzanek E, Karanja NM, Moore TJ, Caballero B. Dietary approaches to stop hypertension: a
summary of study results. J Am Diet Assoc. 1999;99:S35-S39.
National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Third Report of the National Cholesterol
Education Program (NCEP) on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult
Treatment Panel III) Final Report. Available at: Accessed
March 17, 2009. NIH Publication 02-5215.
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health. 2nd ed.
Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2000.
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Surgeon General’s
Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the
Surgeon General, January 2010.
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. FDA Talk Paper: FDA authorizes new
coronary heart disease health claim for plant sterol and plant stanol esters. Rockville, MD: National Press Office;
September 5, 2000. Talk Paper T00-40.
Adapted from:
2010 Developed by: Helenia Sedoski, WVU Dietetic Intern