September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Here are a few tips from the American Diabetes Association to better your cholesterol, along with a yummy heart-healthy recipe for a Tuna Salad Wrap.
1) Get a lipid profile. Ask your doctor for a lipid profile on a yearly basis or more often if you have a high concentration of lipids (or fats) in your blood. A lipid profile is a laboratory blood test that requires a small blood sample. This profile tells you what your blood levels are for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Compare your levels with the following recommended levels:
More than 40 mg/dl for women
More than 50 mg/dl for men
100 mg/dl or less
Less than 70 mg/dl for those with diabetes and heart disease
Less than 150 mg/dl
Your doctor also may give you a “total” cholesterol number. A good total cholesterol goal is less than 200 mg/dl.
2) Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you determine how much fat you should be eating each day. This is different for all people and depends on many factors, such as weight, age, activity level, cultural background, total calorie intake, lipid levels and family history of heart disease.
3) Investigate your risk factors for cardiometabolic disease. Many of these risk factors are controllable or have a relationship with food intake.
4) Instead of frying, try to broil, steam, bake or grill your foods.
5) Use only half the amount of oil in recipes and in main dishes. If you do use oil, use monounsaturated oil, such as olive, canola, or peanut oil, or purchase these in nonstick cooking sprays.
6) Read food labels. The upper part of the food label will tell you how many calories come from fat. As long as your daily intake of fat is 20-35% of your total calories, it is okay if an individual food is higher. Total fat grams per serving and how much of the total fat is coming from saturated fat or trans-fat are listed just below the calories. Some manufacturers might even tell you the amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in their products. Make sure to also review the nutrient claims for fat and remember that the fat claims only apply to one serving.