In today’s world, we’re surrounded by terms such as ‘good fats’ and multisyllable concepts, such as ‘atherosclerosis.’ Yet, for the average American these terms just bring more confusion to the table than help shed light on how to solve the issues at hand. How can those words be applied to daily life? By breaking down what those definitions mean is the first, best step towards understanding how one can travel with hyperlipidemia (HLD) on the go. HLD may sound terrifying, but it’s just the technical term for too many “lipids” or fats in the blood. HLD is the elevation of cholesterol and/or triglycerides, making it a risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (“hardening of arteries) and heart disease.
While primary hyperlipidemia emerges due to familial history, secondary HLD can develop due to increased dietary intake, medical conditions (i.e. lupus, kidney disease, alcoholism, obesity, diabetics or hypothyroidism) and/or medications. In other words, with modifiable changes added to one’s lifestyle, secondary HLD can be reduced and/or eliminated altogether.
In regards to one’s heart health, there are three major lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are considered “bad cholesterol.” It’s recommended cholesterol be <200 mg/dL, LDL:<130 mg/dL and HDL be >60 mg/dL. To keep cholesterol levels at optimal levels, it’s recommended to implement a low fat, cholesterol lifestyle, restricting total fat intake to 30% of daily calories, saturated fat to 7% and dietary cholesterol to 300 mg/day. However, when you’re on the go, it can be hard to discern how much fat is eaten in an entire day. Therefore, identifying ‘good fats’ and which menu items would be better in the long run can help make traveling more enjoyable and healthier.
Suggestions for how to travel with HLD:
- Make every effort to make half of grains whole grains, opt for low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables and poultry, fish and nuts, while cutting back on sugary foods and beverages and red meat
- Add in ‘healthy fats’ that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- This means swapping out tropical oils (i.e. coconut for liquid) and eating fish and nuts instead of red meat
- Be aware that foods high in saturated fatcan be equally high in calories
- Majority of high saturated fat foods derive from animal sources (i.e. beef, lamb, pork, lard, butter, cheese and/or dairy products made from whole or reduced fat milk)
- Again, limit plant based oils that contain high amounts of saturated fat, even though cholesterol free (i.e. palm kernel oil, coconut oil and/or palm oil)
- Increase soluble fiber consumed, which can help decrease cholesterol levels by as much as 10%
- Common sources: oats, barley, nuts, legumes and fruits and vegetables
- Opt for boneless,skinless cuts of meat instead of fried, breaded or battered (i.e. skinless boneless chicken breast)
- Trim fat from meat
- Limiting alcohol can help reduce triglyceride levels, as alcohol consumption can raise triglycerides by 5-10 mg/dL
- In increasing increments, daily regular activity can help lower LDL, while increasing HDL
- Even a 30 minute brisk walk can do wonders in reducing risk
- Walk at an intensity that you’re breathing hard, but can still carry a conversation
- Build up to target heart rate gradually, which is 50-70% of maximum heart rate
- Devote a certain amount of time each day to get the recommended 10,000 steps in
The FDA has recently declared trans fat as no longer generally recognized as safe, giving food companies until 2018 to remove trans fat from foods altogether. This ban will take us one step closer to food companies providing fresher ingredients and allow consumers to choose healthier, heart healthy options. While on the go, what hacks have helped you the most?