The Fat in Your Blood Your Doctor Doesn’t Talk About, but Your Dietitian Will!

Blood SampleAccording to a recent airing of the Dr. Oz show, triglyceride levels are the orphan fat that is not readily discussed during your doctor’s appointment. If your triglyceride value is elevated, your blood is thick like motor oil, which can contribute to deadly plaque formation and heart disease.  If you are in need of taming your triglycerides, here are some simple and effective steps:

  • Limit Alcohol— For some people, cutting out alcohol can elicit a marked decrease in their triglyceride levels.  While you may like it if your doctor tells you red wine is good for you, your dietitian knows alcohol can increase your triglyceride levels and I tell patients to eat grapes instead.
  • Choose Fats Wisely— Replace butter with equivalent amounts of olive oil, but don’t forget to swap the fats for each other. Simply adding olive oil to your diet on top of your usual butter intake will not assist you in improving your cholesterol or triglyceride numbers!
  • Cut Down on Simple Carbs—Carbohydrates are basically divided into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates tend to be sweet, such as soft drinks, desserts, candies, and syrup. Complex carbohydrates are found in bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables.  It is generally recommended that people with high triglycerides avoid simple carbohydrates. Some people are so sensitive to sweets that their triglyceride levels increase drastically when they eat too much sugar. In any healthful diet, complex carbohydrates should be in the 45-65% of overall calorie intake, but even too much high-fiber, nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates can aggravate triglyceride levels when eaten in amounts exceeding 60% of total calorie intake.
  • Eat More omega-3 fatty acids— Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most fish, but are more abundant in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring.  Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include tofu, soybeans, flaxseed, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Increase Physical Activity—Aerobic exercise can help with weight loss and can decrease triglyceride levels at the same time. In fact, both short bouts of aerobic exercise as well as long-term repetitive exercise have been shown to decrease triglyceride levels. Most studies find that the best bet is to do 30-45 minutes of moderately intensive exercise five times a week. First, get your doctor’s approval if you’re not accustomed to exercise.
  • Maintain or Get to a Healthy Weight—Studies have shown losing weight and maintaining an ideal weight to be associated with decreased levels of blood fats-including both triglycerides and cholesterol.

Do you have a success story about how you lowered your triglyceride numbers?

5 Tips to Trim Thanksgiving and Trim You Too!

Turkey DinnerWith Thanksgiving around the corner, here are 5 simple ideas to trim your calorie count on Thanksgiving without feeling like you gave up your favorite holiday foods. If you keep in mind that most of the calories are lurking in hidden fats in your meal, you can eat slightly larger amounts of other foods, and not worry about adding another notch to your belt or wearing stretch pants for the rest of the week.

Turkey. Turkey is a lean meat. Just watch your portion size and keep in mind that a normal serving size looks like a checkbook or deck of cards. Skip the extra fatty gravy (or make your own low-fat gravy), and avoid eating the skin.  And, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the packaged dry gravy options.  They have virtually no fat, and I have never had a guest complain about these types of gravy!

Stuffing. Avoid stuffing the dressing inside the turkey cavity. When you cook the stuffing in the turkey, you are adding more fat by virtue of turkey drippings. Dish out fewer calories and lower the overall fat content of your stuffing just by baking in a separate casserole dish.

Potatoes. Why not make your mashed potatoes with skim milk, fat-free sour cream, or broth? All these options will slash your fat and calories if making from scratch! If you order the potatoes from carry out or a restaurant, chances are they are loaded with both fat and sodium.

Alcohol. Choose a light beer, champagne, or dry wine. These are all lower calorie options to toast the November holiday.

Pumpkin pie. Have you considered a crustless version? Or, have one with crust and be the sneaky one eating the crustless version. Virtually all of the fat and calories end up in the crust, and the rest of the pie is full of health enhancing beta-carotene, fiber, and protein. Cut the sugar slightly and cut the calories more.

Here’s my recipe! 

Do you have other tips for a healthy holiday dinner? Have a very happy Thanksgiving.