Food high in cholesterol has become the norm for many of us in our fast-paced, fast food world. Fatty meats and fried delicacies occupy the center stage in our daily meals. This is a far cry from the low cholesterol diets that we should be eating. For many people low cholesterol food is not as appealing as food high in cholesterol.
But this aesthetic choice is killing us.
But there are many who have made concerted efforts to consume low cholesterol diets. This is certainly commendable and wise. In this attempt some folks have been following the USDA's old food pyramid as a model for heart healthy eating. Others have followed whatever dieting trend is in vogue at the moment.
Then there are folks like me who confused youth with immortality and would eat whatever they wanted. Well youth is not immortality and I am not so young anymore. But back to the food pyramid...
More recent studies have revealed that the old pyramid's approach to healthy eating perhaps is not as healthy as once thought. It is not as though the approach was completely flawed. Perhaps the real weakness of the pyramid is that it grouped foods together without any distinction within the groupings. Let's break it down a bit and see what this means.
The bottom of the pyramid consists of the carbohydrates group. This would include...
The suggestion is 6 to 11 servings per day. Carbohydrates are energy food. The USDA was right to say that we all need carbohydrates. (Of course this may sound like heresy in these days of low carb high protein diets.) Without carbohydrates our bodies do not have the energy necessary to carry on all needed functions.
The reason carbohydrates are so big in this model is because proteins, especially those from meat, are high in fats. If we can't eat fats we must eat carbohydrates. It was an attempt to avoid food high in cholesterol.
The problem with this recommendation is two-fold. The first mistake is the assumption that all fats are bad. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The other mistake is the assumption that all carbohydrates are the same. O.K. perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps the latter statement is farther from the truth.
The next stage of the pyramid recommends 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruit per day. No one can argue with fruits and vegetables. They are tops in the battle against heart disease, cancer and several other chronic diseases. The only problem with the recommendation is we should consume much more than stated here.
The protein group comes next. This would include...
... to the tune of 2 to 3 servings a day. Apparently I am free to pick here. I will choose bacon at every meal. I like it better than dry beans. Not exactly the stuff low cholesterol diets are made of. I may enjoy my meals more but I would probably disprove the old adage, "Only the good die young."
The point is not all proteins are the same.
Up the pyramid we go to the calcium group. Here we find...
But calcium is not the only thing strong bones need. They also need vitamin D and plenty of exercise. Further, dairy products are not the only source of calcium. They are loaded with fat and cause allergic reactions in many people.
Finally we reach the top and find the things we should only occasionally eat. They are fats, oils and sweets. O.K. I cannot argue that we should eat more sweets. Further we should avoid some oils and fats. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record...
Not all fats and oils are the same.
The truth is many fats and oils are absolutely essential for good heart health as well as health in general.
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Are you sick and tired of just not
Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…
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Did you know that these health problems – as well as more serious chronic diseases – can be the result of …
Many people have come to realize this and have made changes to recapture their health. We have a great – FREE – resource we want you to have. Simply click the link below.
In response to the USDA's food pyramid faculty members at the Harvard School of Public Health built what they call the Healthy Eating Pyramid. They have produced a much more balanced approach to a heart healthy diet. Though this will always be a work in progress theirs is a great improvement over the older version.And it is more consistent with low cholesterol diets.
At the base of the pyramid, the foundation, they begin with whole grain foods recommending them at most meals. These would include...
What kind of an outrage is this? Carbohydrates as the basis of a diet? Before you shut down consider this. The sources of carbohydrates most people eat are from highly processed simple starches and sugars. Here I go again, not all carbohydrates are the same.
Whole grain sources, i.e. brown rice as well as, whole wheat and whole grain breads, are much more difficult for the body to digest than their highly processed and usually white counter-parts. This keeps blood sugar fluctuations in check and can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Also the whole grains include the germ and the bran that provide the body with an abundance of nutrition. To top it all off eating whole grains can actually keep hunger at bay. How is that for a diet strategy?
Food high in cholesterol and the wonder of grains.
Next is plant oils. The old model recommended staying away from all fats in an attempt to stick with food high in cholesterol. But now we are being told to indulge. The average American gets one third of his calories from fats. However few of these fats promote a healthy heart.
Saturated fats are death if consumed at high levels. But the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in many plant and cold water fish sources are not only O.K. to eat...
But are actually essential to a heart healthy diet.
They can reduce total blood cholesterol and protect from serious heart rhythm problems. To mention a few of these heart healthy fats we have...
There are also oils from...
Make sure, however, that you avoid processed oils and especially those which have undergone the hydrogenation process. These can be as damaging as saturated fats.
Vegetables and fruits come next. Of course fresh organically grown varieties are best especially if they have not been sitting long. Frozen vegetables are good too if they are frozen soon after harvesting. A diet rich in vegetables can go a long way toward the prevention of...
And many other serious ailments. Eat lots of them, the darker and richer the color the better. And when you can't get enough supplement with a whole food vitamin. This will not only help provide the rich nutrients in plants but also the phytonutrients.
Most people do not eat nearly enough fruits or vegetables. Some people don't like them and many don't take the time to prepare them. One way of getting more vegetables into the diet that is gaining in popularity is by using a juicer.
Juicers produce concoctions of pure vegetable and fruit juice that are quite delicious. And because raw vegetables are used there is no loss of nutrition from cooking. The whole vegetable is used providing all the fiber and nutrients available.
More discussion on fruits.
The next group is part of the protein group. It includes fish, poultry and eggs (yes eggs!). Fish is a great source of protein as well as omega-3 oils which are so potent in reducing bad cholesterol.
Poultry is a good source of protein and is relatively low in saturated fats, (especially if not fried and with the skin removed.) Eggs have been the bad guys for years. But in reality they are a great source of protein and are lower in cholesterol than a doughnut cooked in oil or a bagel made from processed flour.
Of the three, fish is the best, and salmon among the best of fish. For more discussion on fish and fish oils select the Fish Oils and Omega-3 button in the left margin.
Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of...
Popular legumes include, black beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans and other beans sold dried. Nuts contain fats and therefore are shunned by some as fattening. But they are chock full of vitamins and healthy fats in addition to protein.
Food high in cholesterol and nuts in the heart healthy diet.
It is no surprise that red meats and butter should be used sparingly. Fish and secondly poultry are better sources of protein and do not contain the high levels of saturated fats. Don't eat much of these.
White rice, white bread and other processed starches like pastas and sweets should be consumed only sparingly. These are the foundation of the old USDA food pyramid and should be avoided. These highly processed foods are stripped of most of their nutritional value. Further they are digested much more easily than whole grains causing blood sugar to fluctuate drastically.
This can lead to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. The body actually has to use stored vitamins in order to process these foods which have very little nutrition to give in return. Stick with the grains as they are in nature.
To top off this pyramid take a good daily multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement. Include a calcium supplement as needed. Dairy products are high in fat. Dietary supplements can provide needed calcium without the fat.
For wonderful ideas on preparing salmon check out these great salmon recipes.
Traditional Japanese food and recipes for improved nutrition, help with weight loss and long life.
See also The Medicine Hut: The site for herbal remedies.
A Challenge For You!
People are making great improvements in their heart health.
How... are they doing it? By challenging themselves to change the way they eat. Really!
I have a challenge for you. It is my double dog dare.