After each health fair, our Health and Wellness Team, comprised of medical professionals, call people whose results indicate a critical or alert status. What this means is one or more of their baseline levels (think cholesterol, thyroid, Hemoglobin A1c) is so far out-of-range that they need to seek medical treatment immediately.
In the last month, we’ve noticed a few common trends – high triglycerides, low HDL and high A1c. We know that incorporating changes into your diet may help manage these levels, so if you’re dealing with any one of these issues, we’re here to help! With the Memorial Day holiday right around the corner, here are some tasty tips aimed at improving your levels without disappointing your taste buds.
Triglycerides are a key factor in your overall heart health. They are a type of fat in your blood. According to the Mayo Clinic, your body will convert any unnecessary calories from food into triglycerides immediately.
A normal range would be less than 150 milligrams. If your triglyceride levels are high, this will cause your overall cholesterol level to be high. So, this Memorial Day, you’ll want to focus on some recipes that will be good for your overall heart health. Here are a few ideas for you:
Here’s another great recommendation by the AHA. Have lots of color in your salad, and top it with some nuts. Instead of a potato salad, try a spinach salad with red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, and how about some broccoli? To add more crunch, top it with almonds or walnuts. Forgo the croutons. You can also try this Roasted Beet and Endive Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.
There Is No Such Thing as Too Many Veggies
You might think your salad is enough. But how about grilling some asparagus or corn. Let’s be honest, we all feel like it’s not really a BBQ if our plate isn’t overfilled. So, fill it full of vegetables. Here’s a great Grilled Corn recipe to try.
Many people don’t realize that there is such a thing as good cholesterol. That’s what HDL is. If your HDL levels are low, you need to get them up!
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. According to Healthline, “HDL is like a vacuum cleaner or snowplow for cholesterol in the body.” You want your HDL level to be 40 milligrams or higher.
Whole Grain Buns
If you’re going to go for a burger, we recommend three things. One, make it a salmon burger! Two, make sure you pick up some whole grain buns for that burger. Three, add a slice of avocado. All three are sure to give your HDL levels a much-needed boost! Try this Grilled Salmon Burger with Avocado Salsa.
Add Flax to Your Salad
Just like with the triglycerides, you’ll want to avoid the potato salad. You can use the same idea for the salad above, but add ground flaxseeds on top of it. Flaxseeds have those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t swap out the flaxseed for nuts, both are important here for upping your HDL. If you don’t have flaxseeds you can also use chia seeds. Here is a Salad with Flaxseed Oil Dressing recipe we think you’ll like.
Put Down the Beer, Pick Up the Red Wine
Red wine has been shown to increase HDL levels. So, while everyone else may be drinking a beer, especially here in Colorado, drink red wine instead. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, just tell them “I’m owning my health!” If it helps to fit in more with the local thing, you can always reference our heart health article for some good Colorado Red Wines.
Hemoglobin A1c indicates whether you are prediabetic or have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. This test will examine your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The key takeaway here – sugar. If your levels are high, avoid sugar!
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends marinating chicken breasts and grilling them. Your portion should be about the size of your palm. For the marinade, we recommend a low-fat Italian dressing. Or, if you’re not a fan of Italian dressing you can try this Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce.
There’s no wrong option here. If you’re looking for ideas, try zucchini, eggplant, corn or asparagus. Just don’t overcook them. No charring, please! If you’re really looking to try something new, how about Grilled Romaine with Lemon-Pepper Yogurt Dressing?
Fruit for Dessert
It can be hard to hear that you need to stay away from sugar. If you’re like many people – you like sugar. Instead of cookies, try grilling some peaches or pineapple instead. Here’s a great website that has 10 different grilled fruit recipes – just remember, stay away from the sugar. (Skip the Pineapple/Tequila recipe. The Apple with Cinnamon would be a good one!)
We hope these ideas help in your quest to own your health year-round. Another tip, remember that the more you fill up on healthy food, the less likely you are to give in to your cravings and eat unhealthy.
Have a safe and healthy Memorial Day Weekend!