3 Heart-Healthy Food Swaps to Raise Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol

Heart-Healthy Food Swaps

Show your heart some love, especially during American Heart Month, by learning how to protect it. Follow 3 heart-healthy food swaps to raise your ‘Good’ cholesterol. One of the ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease is by making sure that you’re raising your HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, to defend your arteries.

Heart-Healthy Food Swaps

‘Good” cholesterol are lipoproteins that act as cholesterol scavengers. They pick up excess cholesterol in your blood. Take it back to your liver where it’s broken down. Therefore protecting against the accumulation of potentially dangerous plaque on artery walls. While some of us have higher or lower levels of HDLs in our blood determined by our genetics, there are also diet and lifestyle factors that can impact our levels. Here are 3 simple swaps you can make to increase your HDLs and keep your heart healthy.

1. Replace refined carbs with good fats

According to research, the most effective way to increase HDL levels is to replace refined carbs (found in soda, white breads, and pasta) and saturated fats in your diet with healthy fats, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. These include olive oil and olives, canola oil, avocado, fish, nuts (and nut butters), and seeds. Many people assume that eating a low-fat diet is the best thing to for the heart. But in fact, a heart-healthy diet contains between 25 and 35 percent of total daily calories from fat. The trick is the quality of the fats you choose. Aim for less than 7 percent of saturated fat per day.

2. Replace red meat with fish

This might seem like a difficult swap to make at first but omega-3 rich fish like salmon, sardines, and herring have been shown in studies to increase HDL in the short and the long-term. Current recommendations suggest you aim for two servings of fish a week, but start with one if you are new to fish. You can experiment with various ways of preparing it so it appeals to your taste buds, and use healthy oils (mentioned above) instead of butter to double up on the healthy benefits.

3. Replace fruit-flavored beverages with cranberry juice

Instead of gulping down a fruit-flavored beverage, opt for a glass of cranberry juice. It gives your blood lots of disease-fighting antioxidants and can raise your HDL levels. In fact, drinking a few cups of cranberry juice daily can raise your ‘good’ cholesterol by 10 percent and reduce heart disease by 40 percent, according to a study at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Plant compounds called polyphenols are believed to be responsible for this favorable effect since they help relax your arteries. Tip: Cut the cranberry juice with seltzer or water so you get less sugar!

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