With family heart disease in mind, it's important to take stock of your food choices and how they impact our health. Small changes in your food choices can lead to improved health and wellbeing. We know a healthy low saturated fat eating plan may not be enough to lower cholesterol in individuals with an inherited dyslipidemia, (such as high Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] or Familial Hypercholesterolemia [FH] ) and medication is required to manage cholesterol levels. Eating healthy will help to lower your risk for other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. It is important to maximize your food choices to reduce inflammation and to not add to an already elevated cholesterol level.
Let’s focus on VEGETABLES since most of us don’t eat enough of these nutrient packed foods that are also low in calories. It’s time to move beyond white potatoes and corn. And for the record, catsup is not a vegetable!
Eat a variety of vegetables each day and remember the more color the vegetable has, the greater its nutrient value. For example, spinach or kale are richer in nutrients compared to iceberg lettuce.
TIP: It is best to eat vegetables and not depend on a pill or gummy to obtain your nutrients. Buy local in season vegetables as often as you can. Frozen vegetables without added salt or sauce are a great alternative to fresh. If using canned vegetables – try to find “no salt added." If salt is added, rinse vegetable under water before using – this technique helps to reduce the added salt.
For starters, try the following suggestions to increase your vegetable intake:
- Add leftover roasted vegetables to your egg white omelet
- Make an egg wrap with onions, mushrooms, peppers and tomato salsa
- Make a Smoothie with spinach, frozen fruit, soy or pea protein milk
- Add mixed greens to your sandwich
- Have cut up cucumber, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes in place of chips.
- Make a big salad with a variety of vegetables and salad greens.
- Add vegetables and lean protein to fun shaped pasta tossed with an oil base dressing.
- Make a bean and vegetable based soup like minestrone
TIP: combine a variety of washed and dried salad greens in a large zip lock bag, squeeze out all the air and store in the refrigerator for later use. Store individual cut up vegetables in separate containers for later use in your salad, this is a time saver all week long.
- Make half your plate vegetables
- Add diced cooked vegetables to pasta and sauce
- Roast a variety of vegetables with olive oil and seasoning
- Stir fry a mix of vegetables with sesame oil, garlic and ginger
- Try riced cauliflower and broccoli as sides in place of white rice
- Hummus with cut up carrots, sugar snap peas and peppers
- Cup of homemade pumpkin soup
The benefits of eating more vegetables include an increase of well -known nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamins B and C, lutein and beta carotene to name a few. Other beneficial not well -known plant compounds include polyphenols, flavonoids, sulforaphane and anthocyanins.
Many of these plant compounds are known to be anti-inflammatory. Individuals who eat more vegetables and fruit tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke based on the DASH diet research.
If you are interested in a variety of recipes and tips, I highly recommend the following book:
The Volumetrics Eating Plan
Barbara Rolls, PhD
2005 (hardcover), (2007 paperback)
Harper Collins Publishers
Mary Card, MBA, RD
Sr. Clinical Associate
The Family Heart Foundation