Managing Cholesterol with Ease
In this fast paced life, full of family activities, work, church, and sports practices, eating healthy becomes less of a priority. Healthy eating can appear overwhelming, but it does not have to be as hard as it seems. It is even possible to manage medical problems like high cholesterol with ease. First, it is essential to know where cholesterol is found and what raises it, and second, learn how to make wise choices to control cholesterol levels. Let’s see how this can be done.
Cholesterol is made naturally in the body. It is also found in all foods derived from animals. Because it is naturally produced, it can be almost entirely cut from one’s diet. Foods that contain cholesterol include whole milk, cheese, meat, shellfish, and egg yokes. Saturated fats and trans-fats, however, are known to raise cholesterol levels more than edible cholesterols found in the foods listed above, as well as processed foods like chips and snack cakes.
When it comes to cooking, try new recipes or modify old ones to make them healthier. Replace butter or margarine with olive or canola oil. The use of nonstick cookware also eliminates the need for extra oil. Look for lean cuts of meat by finding “loin” in the name, (ex. sirloin) and before cooking trim off all visible fat and/or skin. In some recipes it is possible to use beans or legumes to replace all or part of the meat. If eating a sandwich, avoid processed deli meats by selecting turkey, chicken, lean roast beef, or ham. The American Heart Association recommends setting a goal to eat fish twice a week, and remember to have it baked, broiled, or grilled, instead of battered and fried.
Eating at a restaurant can appear overwhelming, but healthy choices can be found while still enjoying a meal out with friends or family. Starting with the appetizer, look for soups with clear broth. Also consider salads, but take caution: some salads can be loaded with hidden fats and cholesterol in cheeses, dressing, and croutons. Ask for the dressing on the side as a way to control portion sizes, and choose vinaigrette, low fat, or fat free dressing to decrease saturated fat.
For the main course, find items that are grilled, broiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. Like the dressings, request that cream sauces and gravies be left off or put on the side. Substitute French fries for a plain baked potato, or rice. Healthy desserts are more difficult to find, but some restaurants offer fruit or sherbet. Keep in mind when eating at a fast food restaurant, the same tips apply.
As well as eating healthy, it is essential to include physical activity in the daily routine to improve levels of cholesterol. Finding time to be active can be challenging but prioritizing it is vital. Choose enjoyable activities, such as playing with grandchildren, brisk walking, or gardening.
Knowing what raises cholesterol and what to do to reduce it becomes easier with time. With practice it will become simple to identify and eliminate extra fats and cholesterol from the diet. Experimenting with new recipes or modifying old favorites can be fun ways to reduce added fats. In doing all these things, one will feel better and have more energy to balance their busy everyday schedule.
Rebekah Simmons, RD/LD
Chicken and Corn Soup
- 2 skinless chicken breasts ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 30 ounces stewed tomatoes 1 ½ cups corn
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder 2 small onions, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin 3 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt 2 ½ cups pinto beans
- Ground pepper to taste
- Soak beans over night in cool water.
- Drain and rinse beans, then add 15 cups (120 ounces) of fresh water and salt.
- Cook beans on stove top over low heat for 7 hours or until tender (or use slow cooker)
- Cook chicken in skillet with tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
- Shred chicken and add the tomato mixture as well as corn to the beans. Salt and pepper to taste.