Updated: Sep 7
Eating more fresh vegetables and fruit is good for heart health.
It’s important to monitor your cholesterol levels in order to treat and prevent heart disease. Many patients know they should eat a healthier diet, but they don’t always know what a heart-healthy menu looks like. Below I discuss the types of cholesterol, provide tips for reducing bad cholesterol, and list a sample daily menu with recipes. Enjoy!
Cholesterol is a type of fat or lipid that is found in all of our cells. Cholesterol makes up part of our cell membranes and is also involved in the synthesis of numerous hormones. It’s also important for the nervous system, Vitamin D synthesis and proper digestion of fats.
LDL is generally considered the “bad” cholesterol because it is usually associated with heart disease when found in high levels on a blood test. The body needs LDL for various bodily functions, but there are certain blood levels for LDL to function optimally. When LDLs are elevated, they can affect the function of HDLs, which is often an early sign of heart disease.
What Can I Do to Optimize my Blood Cholesterol Level?
Limit consumption of saturated fats and eliminate consumption of trans-fats.
Increase consumption of healthy fats.
When eating meat, choose options that are about the size of a deck of cards.
Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables!
Increase consumption of soluble fiber (apples, pears, prunes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, green leafy veggies).
Decrease or eliminate sugar consumption.
Steam, bake, roast or boil vegetables instead of frying, sautéing, stir-frying, etc.
Season vegetables with herbs and spices, rather than with sauces.
Sample Daily Menu for Heart Health
Minty Green Smoothie
1 banana – break into smaller pieces and freeze night before
1 apple – remove core and cut into smaller pieces
1 pear – remove core and cut into smaller pieces
1 lemon – just going to squeeze juice into blender
1 lime – just going to squeeze juice into blender
2-3 cups water – depending on how you like the consistency
Small handful of baby spinach leaves – clean with water first!
4 kale leaves – remove stem and cut into smaller pieces
3 TBS fresh mint leaves
Blend the fruit and fluid first. May need to add a splash of fluid depending on the blender. Once smooth add the remaining ingredients until completely smooth. This one takes an extra few seconds to blend compared to the other smoothies, you don’t want chunks of greens. More fluid may be needed. Add a splash at a time. For more protein: add a scope of your favorite protein.
Avocado and Olive Salad
2 cups spring mix
¼ cup kalamata olives
½ avocado, sliced
½ tomato chopped
Juice from half lemon
¼ tbs olive oil
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried sage
Combine spring mix, olives, avocado and tomato in large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil with rosemary, sage, and salt and toss together. Serve.
Salmon: serve with garden salad of choice
2 tbs. coconut oil
½ lb. sockeye salmon
Dash salt and pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried dill
2 cloves chopped or minced garlic
Preheat oven to 400. Place 1 tbs. coconut oil in oven pan divided into several equal portions. Rinse salmon under water and pat dry. Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried dill in mixing bowl. Apply to salmon. Place remaining 1 TBS of coconut oil and minced garlic on top of salmon in baking dish. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes, or until salmon flakes with fork.