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Heart Health

What can I do to lower my cholesterol?

In working to lower your cholesterol, you may be relieved to know you shouldn't start by eliminating all fat from your diet. Before even looking at the fat issue, start with the following eight-step approach: 1. Eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking up. Include both protein and carbohydrate foods. Just eating carbohydrates can raise blood sugar and increase the chances of storing some of this sugar as fat. Fruit topped with yogurt and a few nuts or tofu and a fruit shake are examples of well-balanced breakfasts. 2. Eat small meals with small snacks mixed in every three to four hours throughout the day. Avoid eating to the point of being stuffed. Eating regularly throughout the day to prevent ravenous hunger helps. 3. Limit your intake of foods with little or no nutritional value. Some examples include coffee, sugar, high-salt foods and alcohol. 4. Quit smoking; smoking decreases HDL - the good cholesterol. 5. Lose excess weight. 6. Add more fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grain products to your diet. 7. Exercise regularly to increase HDL. 8. Consider a stress management program if you are under a lot of pressure. Once you have mastered the eight steps above, work on following a low fat, but not zero fat diet. Here's how:
  • Eat lean meat and poultry and trim the visible fat. Keep portions to the size of the palm of your hand.
  • Avoid chicken skin
  • Limit or avoid processed meats
  • Use lower fat dairy products.
  • Eat cheese a maximum of three times each week.
  • Limit use of salad dressings, gravies, mayonnaise and sauces
  • Limit dessert and ice cream.
  • Use beans, tofu and fish in place of meat when possible.
  • Increase use of monounsaturated oils like canola, olive, flax and peanut oil.
  • Decrease saturated fat intake. This includes fats that are solid at room temperature like butter and margarine as well as hydrogenated fats and trans fats.

3 Day Cholesterol Lowering Meal Plan

Here is a sample of how to put your meals and snacks together in an effort to control your cholesterol level. Emphasize natural, high quality foods while de-emphasizing artificial sweeteners and low quality items that are simply fat free. Balanced eating rather than simply low fat is the key. This means planning all meals to include a large portion of vegetables and/or fruit accompanied by quality protein and moderate amounts of whole grain foods.

Day 1

Breakfast • 1 slice sprouted grain bread with 1½ tbsp natural peanut butter and 1 orange water Snack • 175g low fat yogurt (any flavor) • 6-8 almonds • water Lunch • Open face turkey sandwich on whole grain bread • 2 cups dark green salad with lots of vegetables and 1 tbsp dressing • water Snack • 4 whole grain crackers • 30 g (1 slice) cheddar cheese • water Dinner • 1 oven baked or grilled halibut fillet • 6 stalks asparagus • 1 cup stir-fried red peppers and mushrooms • ½ cup brown rice • water

Day 2

Breakfast • 1 cup cooked oatmeal • 1 cup 1% milk • 1-2 tbsp ground flax seed • 1 medium apple • water Snack • Fruitshake made with soy milk and frozen berries • water Lunch • 1½ cups pork and vegetable stir-fry • ½ a whole wheat pita pocket • fresh fruit salad • water Snack • 2 tbsp walnuts or pecans • ½ cup low sodium tomato juice • water Dinner • 4-ounces red wine • 1 small lamb chop (1 inch thick) • 1 cup green beans • 1 cup sweet potato • water

Day 3

Breakfast • ½ toasted whole grain bagel • 2 egg omelette with lots of colourful veggies • ¼ cup salsa • 1 cup fruit salad • water Snack • ½ cup 2% cottage cheese • 1 slice mango • 1 slice melon • water Lunch • ½ cup tuna salad • 1 slice whole grain bread • 1 cup vegetable soup • Carrot, pepper and celery sticks • water Snack • 1 energy bar (try Balance or BodySmart brand) • ½ cup purple grape juice • water Dinner • 1 skinless, grilled chicken breast half • 2 cups steamed broccoli & cauliflower • ½ cup garlic mashed potatoes • water

Commonly Asked Questions

See all the FAQ's
How much fish should I eat?
Fish contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease by making blood platelets less sticky and by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. It is recommended to eat a 3-4 ounce serving of fish 2-3 times a week.
What are hydrogenated and trans fats and how can I avoid them?
Hydrogenation is a process used in making some types of margarines and other processed food products. It changes a liquid oil into a solid fat. During the process of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Research indicates that trans fatty acids have a negative impact on health and should be kept to a minimum. Trans fats are found in some hard margarines, shortening, commercially baked goods, processed and fried foods. You’ll be happy to know that all our freshly baked goods in our Bakery department are trans-fat free.
Are all cholesterol-free foods okay to eat?
Don't simply eat foods labelled cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats. Many of these foods are still high in hydrogenated fats or trans fat and lack nutritional value. Choose high quality foods. And remember that it is acceptable to have up to 200-300 milligrams of cholesterol in your diet.
If I have high cholesterol, can I eat shrimp?
For those with high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease, shrimp can still be enjoyed. A serving of 6-8 medium shrimp supplies a total of 63 milligrams of cholesterol, well under the daily 200-300 milligram limit. Take precaution with shrimp sautéed in succulent butter sauce or the over-sized steak often paired with shrimp. A healthier way to enjoy shrimp is in shrimp cocktail, grilled or pan roasted or simply sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic.
Which is better, butter or margarine?
Both butter and margarine are nearly 100% fat. Butter, being an animal product, contains saturated fat and a little cholesterol where margarine does not. Some people feel butter is more natural. However, non-hydrogenated margarines are considered the healthiest choice among spreadable fats. Whether you use butter or margarine, the key is to spread them thinly. And remember that liquid oils are much healthier than solid fats and should be used more often than either butter or margarine.
How many eggs should I eat per week?
High cholesterol level or not, most people can easily eat 5-7 eggs a week without a negative impact. More important is often how the egg is prepared and what other high fat items such as bacon, sausage or hash browns are served with it.
I've heard about the beneficial fats in fish but I'm a vegetarian. Do any other foods contain these fats?
Try grinding flax seed on top of your cereal, use in baking or even on a salad. You can also snack on walnuts. Both flax and walnuts supply the beneficial omega-3 fats also found in fish.
See all the FAQ's
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