Many Americans, infatuated with high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, have concluded that the standard lifestyle advice for heart health doesn't work. It's true that the message has changed somewhat: Modest amounts of unsaturated fat, found mainly in non-tropi cal vegetable oils, may help control weight and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels; eating lots of refined grains may have the opposite effects.
But the traditional cholesterol-lowering diet and other steps still playa central role in protecting the heart. Indeed, despite the new emphasis on medication, some people with a high LD L can still get by with lifestyle steps alone. And all people who take the drugs must make those changes too, since they're unlikely to reach their goals otherwise and because those steps protect the heart in many other ways as well.
Specifically, they should adopt the healthy habits listed below.
Reduce intake of saturated fat, found mainly in animal foods, to less than 7 percent of total calories. And minimize your intake of trans fat, found in foods containing partially hydrogenated oil, such as most margarines and many fat or packaged foods. However, you don't have to conserve less unsaturated fat unless you have difficulty limiting your total caloric intake.
Consume less than 200 milligrams per day of cho lesterol, the amount in about one egg yolk, 10 ounces of lean sirloin, or 8 ounces of skinless chicken breast. Consume lots of fiber, mainly from whole grain fruits, vegetables, and beans. Women should aim for 25 grams a day up to age 50, and 21 grams after that age; men in those age groups should aim for 38 and 30g respectively.
Lose excess weight by cutting calories and exercising. Consuming lots of fiber and moderate amounts of unsat urated fat may help by curbing hunger. Regardless of your weight, work out regularly. Exercise can raise the HDL level and may help lower LDL as well.
Consider consuming about 2 grams a day of plant sterols or sterol derivatives, from products such as Benecol and Take Control margarine, and about 25 grams of soy protein from soy foods (though the evidence is weaker for soy than for sterols).