Healthy Fats: 10 ways to increase your good cholesterol with new foods.

Virtual VillageIt used to be that we all heard about cholesterol, and cholesterol was bad. Now we know that there are actually two different kinds of cholesterol — LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). LDL is the type of cholesterol that contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. HDL actually works to remove the bad cholesterol from the blood stream — sending it to the liver to be processed and expelled.

You can’t change the cholesterol genes you were born with; however, there are a number of foods — often referred to as healthy fats — that can help increase your good cholesterol, which will help lower your bad cholesterol. Here are 10 healthy fats that can help you pump up your HDL:

  1. Fatty fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of naturally fatty fish per week. Varieties of fish that are high in omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna.
  2. Avocado. Not only are avocados a good source of healthy fat, but when eaten with other healthy foods, they help your body absorb those nutrients better. So throw some in your salad or on your sandwich next time you make one.
  3. Seeds. Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are a great snack, and with healthy benefits. Just be sure that they weren’t roasted in loads of oil—read your labels!
  4. Nuts. Nuts of all kinds are good for your heart, especially walnuts. But too much of a good thing can hurt you. Remember that one ounce is the recommended serving. That’s approximately 24 almonds, 14 walnut halves, 18 cashews, 35 peanuts or 15 pecan halves.
  5. Olive oil. Cooking with olive oil not only improves the flavor of your food, it can improve your good cholesterol, too. But a little goes a long way.
  6. Dark green veggies. All of the dark green vegetables—like kale, Brussels sprouts and spinach—pack a big omega-3 punch. Try to incorporate two to three cups of these veggies into your daily diet.
  7. Enriched eggs. Eggs have gotten a bad rap when it comes to cholesterol, but there are many varieties out there today that have been enriched with omega-3s. Just check the packaging to see which ones, and limit yourself to one egg a day.
  8. Ground flaxseed. Using ground flaxseed is one of the easiest ways to sneak some healthy fats into your diet. Sprinkle some on your cereal or salad, or add some to a cup of yogurt or the next time you bake something.
  9. Beans. Kidney, navy, soybeans, black or pinto — the legume family is a great source of healthy fats. Try substituting beans for meat in a favorite recipe, like chili, tacos, lasagna, casseroles, etc.
  10. Omega-3-fortified foods. Last but not least, there are now a number of different foods on the market that have been enriched with omega-3s. We’ve already mentioned eggs, but there are also margarines, milk, breakfast and granola bars, and even breads that have been bulked up with omega-3s. There’s something to fit all tastes.