You probably already know this equation: Too much LDL (the bad cholesterol) + not enough HDL (the good cholesterol) + high triglycerides (another blood fat) = potential trouble for your heart.
To change the equation in your favor, subtract foods that are high in saturated fats. Next, add some foods that can help balance cholesterol. Check this chart for what's good, why it's heart-healthy and how to slip some into your diet:
Why: It contains omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols, which can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
How: Dice it and add it to salads or smoothies.
What: Flaxseed (ground)
Why: They deliver omega-3s—as long as you eat them ground, not whole.
How: Sprinkle them on your morning yogurt. Or add some to a favorite casserole or muffin recipe.
Why: This morning staple contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that helps rid the body of excess cholesterol.
How: Don’t love it for breakfast? Bake it into healthy snack bars. Use it instead of breadcrumbs
What: Olive Oil
Why: It’s high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help lower LDL and raise HDL.
How: Drizzle it on salad, use it in baked goods instead of butter, or make it your go-to oil for sautéing veggies.
What: Salmon (or other fatty fish, such as herring, lake trout, sardines and tuna)
Why: Its omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglyceride levels.
How: Eat two 4-ounce portions each week—baked, broiled or grilled.
Why: They’re a good source of the polyunsaturated fat that can help reduce blood cholesterol and lower the body’s production of LDL. They’re also a vegetarian source of omega-3s.
How: Snack on a small handful (about 14 halves). Or chop and use them to top baked chicken or sautéed kale.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association