avocados, olives and nutsBy Karen Ansel, RD
Tops for Your Ticker
Trying to eat healthier? Instead of avoiding all fat, pay attention to the type that's on your plate. Experts say up to 35% of your daily calories can come from good fats, so focus on the three best kinds for your heart. Photo by Rita Maas/Getty Images.
How they help: Not only do they lower harmful LDL cholesterol, they may also boost beneficial HDL.
Best sources: Avocados, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and certain oils (olive and canola).
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
How they help: These polyunsaturated fats help control both total and LDL cholesterol.
Best sources: Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and oils such as soybean and corn.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
How they help: In addition to protecting against irregular heart rhythms, they clean up harmful fats known as triglycerides in your blood and keep arteries clear of plaque.
Best sources: Oily fish like herring, salmon, sardines, lake trout and albacore tuna. You can also get smaller amounts from flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and canola oil.
1-Day Meal Plan
This satisfying menu is only 1,500 calories.
Breakfast: Apple muesli
Toss ½ cup oats + 1 large pinch cinnamon + 1 chopped apple + 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts. Top with ½ cup 1% milk.
Lunch: Lemony tuna toss
Mix 4 oz canned tuna + ½ cup chopped canned artichoke hearts + 10 halved grape tomatoes + ½ cup no-salt-added canned chickpeas + 2 Tbsp chopped red onion + 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice + 2 tsp olive oil. Serve with 1 whole-wheat roll.
Slice 1 hard-boiled egg in half, removing the yolk. Stuff each with 2 Tbsp guacamole.
Dinner: Orange-olive chicken
Sauté 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast in 2 tsp olive oil. Top with 1 sectioned orange + 5 chopped olives. Serve with ¼ cup* whole-wheat couscous.
Daily total 1,512 cal, 49 g fat (29%), 9 g sat fat (5%)
Watch out for this sneaky clogger.
There's a reason you should avoid trans fats: They raise total and LDL cholesterol while lowering good HDL. Thanks to updated labeling laws, they're easier to spot on many products, but the bad news is, they still lurk (unlabeled) in margarine, shortening, frozen baked goods, doughnuts and fast-food french fries. Many people still consume nearly a gram and a half per day. Since no amount is safe, steer clear of these foods completely.
SOURCE: Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition, University of Vermont, and chair, American Heart Association Nutrition Committee.