Heart Healthy Tips

Changing your lifestyle is probably easier than you think. The Cardiology department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin provides tips to become more heart healthy.

Watch what you put in your body

Quitting tobacco use is one of the most important things you can do for better heart health. Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin's Tobacco Cessation Program can help you break the habit. Call 507-434-1429 for information.

  • Eating fewer high-fat, high-cholesterol foods and watching calories are important steps to a healthier heart and lifestyle.
  • Meet with your healthcare provider to determine the number of calories you need each day to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Keep fat intake to less than 30 percent of your total daily calories.
  • Replace some saturated fat with unsaturated fat (limit saturated fat to 8 to 10 percent of total daily calories).
  • Lower cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day.
  • Choose foods high in starch and fiber.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Read labels to find the fat content, calories per serving, and ingredients.
  • When eating out, be just as careful about your food intake as you are when you make your own meals.

Salad: Use vegetable oil and vinegar dressings.
Bread: Use margarine instead of butter.
Chicken: Eat broiled or grilled chicken; remove skin before eating.
Steak: Ask the chef to trim off excess fat before cooking.
Hamburger: Avoid cheese and mayonnaise toppings - add tomato or lettuce instead.
Fish: Select broiled or poached fillets.
Pasta: Use marinara, clam or tomato sauce without meat or sausage (avoid cream sauce).
Pizza: Choose vegetable toppings instead of cheese or meat toppings.
Baked potato: Avoid toppings such as butter or sour cream.
Vegetables: Eat plenty of these, but without heavy sauces.
Dessert: Sherbet and fresh fruit are excellent choices.
Coffee, tea: Use skim milk or nondairy, nonfat creamer.


The Good

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is known as "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol actually contains very little cholesterol in its core. As HDL travels through the bloodstream it carries LDL or "bad" cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver where it is recycled or removed from the body.

The Bad

LDL (low density lipoprotein) is called the "bad" cholesterol. Its make-up is the opposite of HDL cholesterol. The core of LDL is almost all cholesterol. If a person's LDL levels are abnormally high, it builds up on the artery walls. When LDL cholesterol combines with other substances in the bloodstream, it produces a plaque-like substance that can clog the arteries.

The Ugly

Triglyceride is a form of fat found in food, in body fat, and in blood as part of the cholesterol molecule. The visible fat on chicken or steak is actually triglyceride. If you are overweight, your body stores the extra calories you eat as triglycerides. People with high triglyceride levels often have low LDL or "good" cholesterol levels. This combination is considered by many experts to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Types of triglycerides

Saturated fats

Higher in meat, dairy products, palm and coconut oils, and tend to contribute to LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. As a rule, the more saturated fatty acids in a fat, the harder its consistency at room temperature and the more damage it causes.

Monounsaturated fats

Liquid at room temperature but will start to become solid when refrigerated. Found in canola, olive, almond, and peanut oils, and seem to have the effect of lowering LDL without lowering protective HDL cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats

Found in corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils. They are liquid at room temperature and remain liquid when refrigerated. Polyunsaturated fats may lower LDL levels but may, if used in large enough quantities, reduce HDL cholesterol levels as well.

Increase what your body puts out

Regular physical exercise can increase "good" HDL cholesterol levels and decrease triglyceride levels. An exercise program of even moderate activities, such as walking, gardening, doing yard work or dancing, can be very beneficial if done on a daily basis. Participation in any of these types of activities or even more vigorous exercise, such as aerobic workouts, swimming or jogging, is very likely to lower your risk of heart disease and enhance overall sense of health and well-being. Set a goal of at least 30 minutes of exercise (accumulated time) per day.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin's Heart 'n' Sole mall walking program is designed to help you get fit and have fun. To get started walking with Heart 'n' Sole register at the Oak Park Mall business office from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For information about Heart Healthy tips or heart disease, contact the Cardiology department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, 507-434-1262 or 888-609-4065 (toll-free).