Extra Fiber + Reduced Fat = Improved Heart Health

Heartmail Summer 2018

JUNE 26, 2018

plate of fruits

When it Comes to Controlling Cholesterol, Food Choices are Key

A few changes to your diet can add up to significant improvements in cholesterol levels.

"By adding monounsaturated fats found in oils [including olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sesame oil] as well as nuts, seeds and avocados, you can raise levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol," explains Gianna Roma, RD, in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center‘s Outpatient Lipid and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Clinic. "At the same time, cutting back on fats, including trans fats [found in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes] can improve overall cholesterol levels.”

A simple tip Roma offers is to shop the perimeter of the supermarket, where natural, wholesome foods are located. Here are some other dietary changes to help you get started.

Add Foods High in Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Soluble fiber prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends you eat 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day (based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet) to maintain heart health. Pairing a few of the following can get you to your goal:

  • Oatmeal: ½ cup = 1g soluble fiber
  • Apple or banana: 1 medium-sized piece of fruit = 1g soluble fiber
  • Broccoli: ½ cup = 1g soluble fiber
  • Beans: ½ cup kidney beans or lima beans = 3g soluble fiber
  • Brussel sprouts: ½ cup = 3g soluble fiber

Limit Foods High in Fats

One of the keys to lowering cholesterol is to limit both total fat and saturated fat.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 5 to 6 percent of daily calories come from saturated fat. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, that means no more than 120 calories should come from saturated fat — about 13 grams per day. Where can you cut?

  • Regular ground beef (25 percent fat, 3 oz. cooked) = 6.1g saturated fat
  • Regular cheddar cheese (1 oz.) = 6g saturated fat
  • Regular ice cream (1/2 cup) = 4.9g saturated fat
  • Medium-sized croissant = 6.6g saturated fat
  • Chicken nuggets (6 pieces) = 3.9g saturated fat

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Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.