Family matriarchs often covet secret family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. “My grandmother had some of the best recipes,” said Vivienne Halpern, MD, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. “Yet, I know if she were with us today, she would adjust those recipes to provide her family with healthier meals.”
Time-honored recipes are likely high in saturated fats including butter, cream, lard, buttermilk, and fatty cuts of meat. Some family favorites feature fried foods or foods sautéed in fat.
High cholesterol affects one in three adults in America according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the human body makes cholesterol, foods high in animal fats, such as eggs, cheese and meat, add more cholesterol into the bloodstream.
Over time, the extra cholesterol or plaque inside blood vessels narrows the vascular passageways. This can lead to a stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in America according to the 2010 National Vital Statistics Report. Last year, 137,000 Americans died from strokes.
Dr. Halpern suggests substitute ingredients such as:
- Butter or margarine — replace these ingredients with trans-fat free tub spreads
- Milk — avoid whole milk; use skim or low-fat milk
- Mayonnaise — use cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt instead
- Canned soups — use the low-salt canned soups only
- Breads — select fiber-rich whole grain bread, not highly processed white breads
- Cheese — use the real thing in moderation. Avoid the high-sodium processed “cheese foods.”
Lifestyle changes can also have a positive impact on vascular health. For example, a 10-pound weight loss can result in a five to eight percent reduction in bad cholesterol. Other lifestyle changes include:
- not smoking
- participating in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily
- consuming 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for women; 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily for men to maintain a healthy body weight.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, a vascular specialist can prescribe medication to help lower cholesterol. For vascular health information, visit: VascularWeb.org.