1. Once I start taking medication for high cholesterol, will I always need to take this medication? Not necessarily. Some people are able to discontinue taking medicine if they change their diet, exercise and lose weight (if needed).
2. Can heart disease be controlled with diet alone? Diet is only one factor in the control of heart disease. Other factors include heredity, exercise and lifestyle.
3. Should I use a salt substitute? Some people need to limit potassium. If you are taking any medications, check with your doctor before using potassium-based salt substitutes.
4. What is the correct serving size for meats? A three-ounce portion of meat, fish or poultry is appropriate for most people. Three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards. For soft meats and cottage cheese, a serving is ¾ cup.
5. Can you use portion control and eat whatever you like? A small amount of foods high in unhealthy fats or sugars may be eaten occasionally. However, take care not to eat them too frequently.
6. How does grapefruit interfere with certain medications? There is a food-drug interaction between grapefruit and some drugs. Among the drugs to be avoided with grapefruit include: Cordarone, Lipitor, Buspar, Pletal, Colchicine, Mevacor and Zocor.
7. Why do some people have high triglyceride levels? High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) may be due to uncontrolled diabetes, excessive alcohol intake or excessive intake of sugars (natural or added).
8. Will eating tofu help lower your cholesterol? Yes. Including soy products in your diet may help reduce cholesterol. Studies have shown that eating 25 grams or soy protein can reduce “bad” cholesterol.
9. Will drinking vinegar before eating high-fat foods help lower your cholesterol? No. Vinegar does not “cut the fat” or help lower your cholesterol.
10. How do I eat a heart-healthy diet if I have diabetes? A controlled carbohydrate diet can be heart healthy if you use lean meats and fat-free dairy products, olive and/or canola oil and margarines with no “trans fats.”
11. Should you count calories when you are on a heart-healthy diet? Most people will lose weight if they limit high fat, sugary foods, limit their food portions and increase their exercise. If you are not successful at losing weight this way, you may count calories.
12. Why is chocolate syrup acceptable on a heart-healthy diet, but chocolate candy bars are not? Chocolate syrup, in small amounts, is acceptable because it is fat-free. Chocolate bars are high in fat and calories.
13. Can you have nuts on a heart healthy diet? Yes. Nuts are considered to be heart healthy because they have “good” fats. However, they are very high in calories. (One ounce of pecans contains 190 calories.) So don’t eat too many nuts if you’re watching your weight.
14. Can I eat bacon and sausage if my cholesterol is low? Traditional bacon and sausage contain saturated fats, which are not considered healthy for anyone. You may want to try turkey bacon or lower-fat sausages.
15. I take medication for cholesterol. Can I eat whatever I want? Your cholesterol medication will work better if you eat a heart-healthy diet.
16. Can I eat chicken livers on a heart healthy diet? Liver of any kind is not considered heart healthy.
17. Can I use peanut oil for cooking? Olive oil and canola oil have the highest amount of heart-healthy fats and are recommended for most uses.
18. Do I need to restrict potassium in my diet? Most people do not need to limit potassium unless their doctor recommends it.