Food choices that lower blood cholesterol levels
High blood cholesterol is a leading risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United Sates. Despite its harmful effect, cholesterol is a vital component in our bodies. It is used to make hormones, digest fats and make Vitamin D. In fact, the body makes it’s own cholesterol. The driving forces of blood cholesterol production in the body are your genetics and saturated fats. Any food that comes from animals contains saturated fat. Given that we cannot change our genetics, controlling the amount of saturated fat we eat is key to managing cholesterol levels.
Experts recommend limiting saturated fats consumed be based on our calorie pattern. For example a pattern of 1800 - 2000 calories per day would have a limit of 20 – 22 grams of saturated fats. When goal is to lower the LDL known as the “bad cholesterol” the limit is even lower. Modifying ingredients, recipes and eating pattern is our best bet to keep saturated fats and bad cholesterol in line.
Almost 20 % of saturated fats in the American diet comes from snacks and sweets. Ingredients and foods that come from animals or animal products are natural sources of saturated fats. Foods such as meat and meat products, milk and milk products such as cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, ice cream are rich sources of saturated fat and cholesterol. One ounce of regular cheese contains 6 - 9 grams of saturated fat, half a cup of ice cream contains about 6 grams and one tablespoon of butter contains about 7 grams. And they add up quickly. Limiting animal products and replacing it with plant foods and liquid oils is the most effective defense at our disposal. Opting for more plant based dishes from appetizers to dessert is a healthy way to cut back on saturated fat. Here is a delicious fruit based dessert that makes a perfect ending to any meal.
Pineapple and strawberries with spiced honey
1 pineapple, peeled and cubed
1 lb. strawberries, washed and cut in half
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
½ cup blueberries
Combine pineapple cubes and strawberries in a shallow bowl.
Bring 6 oz. of water to boil with the honey, cinnamon stick, cloves, and black peppercorn. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool and filter through a sieve. If desired refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Add the cooled syrup to the mixed fruit, if desired add blueberries for color.