Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Keep your cholesterol in check this holiday

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2022 | 12:06 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

This year’s holiday season may not involve the large gatherings of past years, but you may still want to enjoy traditional foods with close family members. Managing your cholesterol while maintaining holiday traditions is possible. Although holiday traditions may include an abundance of decadent foods, you can still enjoy holiday meals while keeping your cholesterol in check.

According to Naulette Reddie, training and education nutritionist at the Ministry of Health and

Wellness, persons should aim to limit their intake of processed foods, foods high in sodium, high fat, and high sugar.

“People can look at their intake of saturated fat and trans-fat. Also, limit red meat and diary products made with whole milk, for example, cheese and ice cream. Also, limit fried foods, and choose healthier cooking methods. Add more fruits and vegetables, and incorporate food from all the food groups in moderation,” Reddie said.

KEEP MEALS HEALTHY

Whether you are the main chef or contributing sides to the meal, here are a few tips for keeping it

healthy:

• Choose low-fat cuts of meat, such as turkey breast, over meats higher in fat content, such as

ham, beef, or dark poultry meat. Even better, skip the meat altogether and go for fish rich in

omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and trout. Foods rich in these fatty acids can help

lower triglycerides and raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

• Load your plate with vegetables first. Filling up your plate with vegetables high in vitamins

and fibre leaves little room for more cholesterol-heavy foods.

• Skip the creamy casseroles. Vegetable casseroles are often creamy and rich in butter. Swap

the casseroles for sautéed or roasted vegetables.

• Leave out the chips. Instead of chips and dip, snack on fruits and vegetables dipped in

healthy, low-fat yoghurt or protein-packed hummus.

• Add nuts. As you are foregoing the chips tray, why not also add a bowl of cholesterol-healthy nuts? Some nuts, including almonds and walnuts, are high in polyunsaturated fatty

acids, which can help to lower your LDL (low-density lipoprotein).

• Choose wholegrain bread over buttery rolls or croissants. The high fibre content in wholegrain bread can help reduce LDL levels.

• Substitute olive oil for butter. Saturated fat in butter can raise your cholesterol. However,

oils high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as olive oil, hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil,

or sesame oil, may help lower LDL and raise HDL. Any of these oils mixed with herbs of your

choice will make a delicious dip for your bread.

DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE

A brisk walk or bike ride on most days does the trick, but other good options include using a stationary bicycle or participating in online workouts, which you can even do inside. The point is to make exercise easy and fun.

Studies have shown a link between stress and high cholesterol, and if there is ever a time of the year when persons try to pack too much into each day — and night — it is November through to January.

Fortunately, stress management techniques like taking a yoga class, or even meditating for 20 minutes in the comfort of your bedroom, can be very helpful. Other activities, like taking in a hilarious movie or enjoying a healthy beverage with a good friend, can also be fun and relaxing. Even a series of deep breaths in the middle of a busy time of day can help.

Handling your stress effectively can help you manage your cholesterol and feel better overall, since

your emotional and spiritual health are absolutely interwoven with your physical health.

REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR MEDICATION

Some people may need to take cholesterol medication to manage their cholesterol levels. If you take

cholesterol medicine, changes in routines and other factors may disrupt your medication schedule.

Taking your medicine is crucial to maintaining healthy lipid levels. There is no doubt that the holiday season is different this year, but keeping your heart healthy is more important than ever. No matter how you spend your holidays this year, remember to stay safe and be good to your heart.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com