Cooking and Cholesterol
If you want to lower your cholesterol, you will want to cook your own meals more often. This is because many restaurants add lots of fat and salt to their foods in order to cheaply add texture and taste. Convenience foods, of course, are notorious for offering poor nutrition and plenty of fat, salt, and sugar.
If you want to lower your cholesterol over the next 30 days, avoid all fast-food, convenience, and prepackaged meals.
This isn’t hard to do, even if you are lost in the kitchen. There are a number of very fast and easy ways to ensure that you can whip up tasty and cholesterol-friendly meals - no matter how harried your schedule:
- If you are very busy and tired at the end of a long day, a salad and sandwich take less time to put together than it takes to phone the pizza parlor. Wrap some veggies in a tortilla, cut more veggies into a salad, and drizzle the salad with olive oil and lemon juice. Use a mashed avocado or salt-free salsa as the “dressing” on your sandwich. Soups and stir-fries are other kitchen friends of busy people who aren’t very handy in the kitchen.
- Keep fresh ingredients on hand and don’t tempt yourself by keeping convenience foods and junk food in your house.
- Choose fresh ingredients - the very freshest you can. Not only is this healthier for you, but you will need less fat and salt in your cooking if your food ingredients are flavorful on their own.
- Find low-fat and cholesterol-friendly recipes in cookweb sites and plan to make these recipes. There are many recipe web sites at your local library - and many of these feature heart-healthy and fast recipes that can make cholesterol-friendly eating a snap. Don’t overlook cookweb sites that feature Chinese, Japanese, Raw food, Vegan, and Indian recipes. These are often heart-friendly and contain enough variety to keep you happy with your low-fat diet forever.
- Buy some fresh herbs. Use these to add flavor to your cooking rather than relying on salt. If you must use salt, use only a pinch of the best sea salt you are able to buy.
- If you have recipes you cannot part with, switch ingredients to healthier alternatives. Use good olive oil instead of butter, low-fat products instead of the regular kind and experiment with cutting salt out of recipes entirely.
Cooking to lower your cholesterol is not very hard. There are a few basic foods that almost anyone can make that can keep your health in good shape:
Even if you are not an excellent cook, you can easily create a salad that is enticing. Simply chop up some favorite salad greens (mescalin mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, herbs) and garnish with a few nuts. You can make your own dressing by mixing herbs (such as basil or thyme) and a squirt of lemon or you can choose prepared dressings that are very low in salt and fats. You can also create a very low fat salad dressing by combining half an avocado with some herbs and lemon juice. Avoid croutons, bacon bits, whole milk products such as chesses, eggs, and other high-fat foods in your salads. If you do want to add meat to your salad, opt for skinless poultry.
Chopping up some of your favorite fruits, berries, and lemons can make a beautiful and attractive salad that is very low fat. If you are using apples or other fruits that tend to “brown” in your salad, a squirt of lemon juice over your salad will keep your fruit salad attractive and healthy. A fruit salad is an especially excellent choice for breakfast or a later meal and is appropriate even for those who have very high cholesterol and so must follow a very low-fat and very low-cholesterol diet.
Sandwiches are quite easy to make. Simply choose healthy breads or pitas or tortillas that are low in fats and salts and choose lots of vegetables for your sandwiches. Avoid highly processed deli and sandwich meats. Instead, use lean and skinless chicken or other poultry. Instead of fats or mayonnaise on your sandwiches - which can increase the fat content of you sandwiches considerably - choose to flavor your sandwich with fresh sweet onions or low-sodium mustard or salsa.
There are a number of pastas available, from fresh pasta or dried pasta to vegetable pastas and rice pastas. All can be made into delicious and heart-friendly meals in minutes. Simply cook the pasta in a pot. Shred your favorite vegetables or cut them into very small pieces. Combine the vegetables with some low-sodium and low-fat chicken or vegetable broth and cook until vegetables are softer but still crisp. Add the pasta and toss until the vegetables are the desired consistency. Add your favorite fresh herbs (basil is a good choice) and combine. This can be a very tasty combination and is still quite healthy for you. You can make similar meals with rice or even low-fat tofu. Many prepared pasta dishes use plenty of salt or cream-based sauces, but some combination of this recipe can give you a tasty meal with less fat.
Combine your favorite fresh fruits in a blender with fresh fruit juice and a small squirt of honey. Combine until blended. This makes an excellent and very healthy snack. It can also be a great quick breakfast on days when you are in a rush. Experiment with different fruit combinations to find different tastes. Chilling or even freezing some of the fruit before serving can produce a nice chilled drink that is perfect for summer. If you are craving desserts, you can add a small amount of very low fat frozen yogurt to this recipe and use frozen fruits to get a tasty and heart-friendly alternative to ice cream and other desserts.
Brushing vegetables and lean meats with lemon juice and herbs and grilling on the barbeque is a great way to enjoy fat-free good-for-you foods that are easy and fast to create.
Lean meat dishes:
When you have chosen your lean cuts of meat, you can make these foods even healthier by reducing the amount of fat you use in preparing them. For example, marinating poultry and other meats in lemon juice and fresh dill or in pureed fruits and vegetables is a heart-friendly way to get plenty of flavor into your cooking without adding fat. At many fish shops, you can get planks of cedar that are perfect for baking or grilling fish - simply place the fish on the cedar, cover with lemon juice and possibly herbs and grill or bake until done.
Desserts and Snacks:
Limiting desserts and snacks in general can help you control your weight and your calories intake and so keep your heart healthy. If you absolutely crave a dessert or snack, though, try to stave off the craving with fresh fruit. If this does not work, occasionally eating low-fat desserts and snacks such as angel food cake, fig and fruit bars, low-fat yogurt, fruit sherbert, Jello, animal or graham crackers, wafers, puddings made with low-fat milk that make lower-fat alternatives. However, these products still do often contain sodium, plenty of calories and some fats, so overindulging in these will certainly not allow you to keep your heart healthy. Also, take care to read the labels on these snacks and choose the brands with the least sugar, calories, fat, and salt that you can.
A low cholesterol diet is achieved by eating foods low in saturated fat and concentrating on the following:
- Use herbs instead of salt in cooking.
- Consume fat free, skim, or 1% dairy products
- Watch out for bottled and canned drinks and especially for sports beverages - many are very high in sodium, calories, and sugars.
- Choose only lean meats. Enjoy white meats, fish, and poultry rather than red meats.
- Eat plenty of fish
- Enjoy only skinless poultry
- Select plenty of whole grain foods
- Eat lots of fruits
- Read food labels and choose foods low in fats (especially saturated, polyunsaturated, and hydrogenated fats), sodium, and cholesterol
- Choose fresh rather than processed, spiced, prepared, pickled or tinned foods. If you cannot find fresh produce out of season, try frozen foods that have no sauces or other ingredients added.
- Eat lots of vegetables
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