1. Reduce saturated fat intake. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Try the squeeze test: the firmer the fat, the more it's saturated. Take a pack of butter and tub of margarine - it's obvious that the butter is more solid, meaning it contains more saturated fats. Saturated fats contribute to the plaque build-up inside our arteries and help raise blood levels of cholesterol. Butter, lard, whole milk, cream, animal fat (think of the skin and fat on poultry and the fat and marbling in red meat) and bacon are especially high in saturated fat. Saturated fats are also used in many snack products such as chips, biscuits, crackers and pastries. Read the labels for the lowest amount of saturated fat possible.
2. Use monounsaturated fats. Olive oil and canola oil are high in monounsaturates, which help reduce blood cholesterol and may help raise levels of HDL, the 'good' cholesterol. Use olive or canola oil in cooking or as a salad dressing. You can even find margarine spreads that are made from olive or canola oil. Don't go overboard: a little bit goes a long way.
3. Increase your fiber. Fiber is found only in plants - fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Try to eat 25-35 g of fiber each day (read the labels for the amounts in foods you normally eat). Fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and people who eat more fiber have a lower risk of heart disease. Start your day with a bowl of high-fiber breakfast cereal (at least 5g of fiber per serving) and you'll be well on your way to meeting your fiber goal.
4. Think seafood. Eating a decent portion of seafood (75-100g) once or twice a week increases the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids you eat and decreases your risk of heart disease. Choose coldwater fish for the most omega-3 fatty acids: mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna and sardines.
5. Eat less animal protein. Try to keep your portions of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and veal to the size of a deck of cards (about 75g). That way, you'll eat less fat and you'll have room for more veggies - Which leads us to the next suggestion...
6. Eat your veggies. Choose dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and greens for high amounts of folic acid and fiber. Dark orange veggies such as carrots and winter squash contain phytochemicals, which have many health benefits. Include a wide variety of veggies in at least two meals each day, and make sure each portion covers at least half your dinner plate (that's why you're eating less animal protein).
7. Use low-cholesterol spreads. If you use a butter or margarine spread, try one of the newer cholesterol-lowering spreads.
8. Beware of fat-free foods that are high in sugar. If high triglycerides are your problem, you need to avoid not only fat but also sugar. Sure, low-fat cakes and biscuits don't contain much fat, but they're packed with sugar.
9. Go a little nuts! That is, sprinkle a tablespoon of chopped nuts on a salad or over your morning muesli. You can even snack on nuts, but don't go overboard. The fat in nuts helps lower cholesterol and they contain fiber. Just remember, a serving of nuts is about the size of your thumb.
10. Choose fat-free dairy products. Some studies have indicated that drinking skimmed milk each day helps lower blood pressure. The fat in dairy products is saturated and should be avoided. Choose skimmed milk, low-fat cheeses (no more than 20g fat per 100g) and fat-free yogurt.