How to Eat Healthy When You Have FH
FH can make us feel powerless because we cannot prevent or stop it from happening. However, once diagnosed, we CAN take certain measures to limit its impact. While every detail of our lifestyle is important – the food we eat, our physical activity, whether we smoke or not – FH always requires medical treatment in addition to that. FH is a lifelong journey of commitment to certain lifestyle decisions.
Important facts to remember
- ♥ FH is a genetic disorder – it is not your fault. However, there are things you can do to manage this condition.
- ♥ The liver produces most of the cholesterol circulating in the human body. People with FH are unable to recycle this natural supply of cholesterol, which results in exceedingly high cholesterol levels. Over time this can lead to blockages in the arteries.
- ♥ Cholesterol is not all bad! There are two types: “GOOD” cholesterol (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) and “BAD” cholesterol (saturated fats and trans fats).
- ♥ Do not feel guilty if today you crave cheesecake! Every little bit helps – tomorrow opt for apples instead.
I have FH and I need to change my diet. What’s next?
- WHAT TO AVOID: Strive to bring your fat intake to a minimum. The most harmful types of fat are saturated fat and trans fat, which are found in foods from animal sources, such as meat and dairy products, as well as packed snacks, fast food, and baked goods (biscuits, cakes, etc). As a rule of thumb, avoid too much processed foods. Try to eat fresh by cooking homemade healthy meals from scratch.
- LESS!whole milk, butter, egg yolks, snacks (chips), deep-fried fast food (fries, deep-fried chicken), processed meat (sausage, pâté), liver, organ meats, frozen foods (waffles, pies, pizzas, breaded fish).
BEWARE OF HIDDEN TRANS FATS (“partially hydrogenated…”)
WHAT TO EAT: Fiber! Fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Research indicates that eating more than 25 grams of fiber per day can reduce risk of heart disease. As a rule of thumb, think plants (not animals): fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.
- MORE! barley, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, almonds, soy, tofu, edamame, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, Brussels sprouts, carrots, apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapefruit, prunes, blackberries.
- √ Limit intake of cheese. Just one ounce of cheese (one inch cube) has roughly 6 grams of saturated fat. Try a low-fat cheese or use a cheese slicer to slice a couple of slivers of a flavorful cheese to top apple slices or a few whole grain crackers.
- √ Eat leaner cuts of beef and pork, such as eye of round and pork tenderloin, and trim as much visible fat as possible before cooking. Reduce portions to 3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards, and supplement your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables and some whole grains.
- √ Replace butter with a liquid oil from the Healthier Fats chart (see below), use cooking oil sprays (Misto Sprayers work great!), or use a small amount of tub margarine.
- √ Switch to fat free or 1% milk instead of whole milk, or try soy or almond milk.
- √ Use low fat milk in your coffee instead of cream.
- √ Replace high fat ice cream and desserts with naturally sweet and colorful fruits or sherbet.
- √ In casseroles, soups and stew, cut the amount of animal protein in half and substitute beans (drain and rinse first, if using canned beans) for the remaining amount of meat.
- √ Remove skin from chicken and other poultry before eating.
- √ Fish is a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. The American Heart Association recommends eating 3.5 ounces of fish (especially oily, omega-3 rich fish) at least twice a week. Note: Tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel have high mercury content and should be eaten only occasionally.
- √ Include a meatless meal at least once a week. Some people are trying “Meatless Monday”, but you can choose the day of the week that works best for you.
- √ Choose breads that list the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient, such as “whole wheat flour”. Look for 2 to 3 grams of fiber per slice.
- √ Switch to whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, hulled barley, whole wheat couscous, whole wheat pasta, or bulgur cracked wheat for side dishes.
- √ Keep a clear bowl of whole fruit on the counter or table. Research shows that keeping fruits close-by and visible helps us eat more of these disease-fighting super-foods.
butter, cheese, cream, fatty cuts of meat and processed meats (hot dog, bacon, bologna, salami, sausage), ice cream, lard, poultry skin, sour cream, whole milkPlant Sources:
coconut, palm, palm kernel
|Foods with a high probability of containing partially hydrogenated oils:Baked Goods – biscuits, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, pancake mix, pastries, pie crust, pizza dough
Fried Foods – French fries, breaded chicken or breaded fish
Snack Foods – crackers, microwave popcornStick margarine, shortening and non- dairy creamer
|Nuts, seeds and natural nut butters: almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts,
pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin and sesame seedsAvocados, olives
Oils: canola, extra virgin olive, peanut, sesame
|High omega-3 seafood:Arctic char, Atlantic mackerel, black cod(sablefish), herring, mussels, wild salmon, sardines, troutNuts and seeds: chia, ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Oils: soybean, safflower, corn
FINALLY: Add plant sterols and plant stanols to your diet. They actively reduce LDL-cholesterol and can be found in certain food supplements and substitutes (look for margarine or cheese that states “With added plant sterols/stanols”). An enhanced daily consumption of 2000 to 2500 mg of plant sterols/stanols per day may lower LDL-cholesterol by up to 15%!
Test Your Knowledge