If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, cutting back on fat and increasing fiber can help lower both. You may also lose weight in the process!

Small food changes you can make to improve your health

If you’re looking to stay on a healthy track with minimum effort, make the easy switch to these good food habits.

Try these food changes to reduce your fat and saturated fat intake. Saturated fat is the hard, artery clogging fat and you want to stay under 20 grams daily whenever possible.

Fat Food Changes

Total fat should be less than 50 grams for women and 60 grams for men.

1. Eat only 1oz cheese instead of 2oz and save 5 grams saturated fat. One ounce is the portion of presliced cheese.

2. Buy 95% lean ground beef instead of regular ground beef and save 3.5 grams saturated fat for every 3oz portion. Three ounces is the size of a deck of cards.

3. Instead of whole milk choose 1% and save 3 grams saturated fat per 8oz serving.

4. Choose tub margarine instead of butter and for every tablespoon you will save another 5 grams saturated fat.

5. Use low fat cream soups instead of regular for your casserole dish and save 6 grams fat per serving. That’s 15 grams fat less per can!

6. Order an ice cream cone instead of blizzard or shake and save about 20 grams fat.

7. Order your latte, mocha or cappuccino with nonfat milk and save about 6-7 grams fat for a 16oz serving.

Fiber Food Changes

Believe it or not, there actually are some foods you should eat more of to lower cholesterol and weight.

Try switching these foods to increase your fiber intake for even more heart health power!

1. Oatmeal can be a powerful weapon in lowering your LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that can increase plaque buildup in the arteries. What is it about oatmeal that makes it so healthy? Oatmeal is a whole grain and good source of soluble fiber. It also sticks with us longer to help control hunger.

2. Add a spoonful of flaxseed to your oatmeal, bread mix, casserole, yogurt, salad or other foods for the fiber and omega-3 benefit. You can buy the seed and grind it in coffee grinder or buy a small package of milled flaxseed. Be sure to keep refrigerated once ground!

3. Switch pastas, breads, cereals and other starch foods to whole grain or whole wheat. These changes will double your fiber intake.

4. Try this to increase fruits & veggie intake: have 1 fruit serving for breakfast, 1 for morning snack, 2 veggies with lunch and 2 veggies with supper. Now you have the minimum 5/day you need. Eat more if you like!

5. Beans are one of the best sources of fiber. Try to have 1-2 meals with beans each week. It’s easy if you like chili, bean soups, bean salads, baked beans, black beans, bean dips or beans in Mexican dishes.

6. Don’t forget about nuts and seeds. Add nuts to your day for a snack or to salads. Just watch the serving size because they are high calorie!

7. Enjoy popcorn for your snack. 3 cups gives you 3 grams fiber! Just go easy on the butter or oil.

Total fiber intake should be 20-35 grams fiber daily but don’t worry about the numbers.

Just be sure to increase fiber gradually and drink enough water to avoid cramping and bloating.