Fort Berthold Diabetes Program

September: Cholesterol Education Month

By Celeste Hart RD, CDE 

Do you know your cholesterol levels?  If you are 20 or older and you don’t know what your cholesterol levels are, ask your medical provider to conduct a cholesterol test.  Ask your provider if you need to fast for 12 hour before your cholesterol test.

We cannot survive without cholesterol in our bodies.  Our liver produces some of our cholesterol, we also consume cholesterol from the animal based foods we eat.  Cholesterol is made up of HDL (high density lipoproteins) and LDL (low density lipoproteins).  It is important to know your HDL and LDL levels.  The LDL cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque on the walls of blood vessels over time.  HDL cholesterol transfers cholesterol from different parts of your body to the liver where it can be used to make other compounds (or flushed from the body).  HDL cholesterol is referred to as the “good “cholesterol. 

Ways to increase the HDL (good) cholesterol:

Eat more:

Walnuts, 1 handful per day

Olive and soybean oil 1 tablespoon/day (try it in a salad dressing)

Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout oysters, mussels) 3-4 ounces, 2-3 times per week

Chia seed, 1 tablespoon 2-3 times per week

Ground flax seed, 1 tablespoon 2-3 times per week

Exercise/ Physical Activity

Eat less:


Packaged snacks containing partially hydrogenated oil (check the ingredient label), examples would be crackers with cheese

Here are three healthy eating options that will work to keep you cholesterol at a healthy level.

Limit your intake of saturated fat:

Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, like cooled bacon grease.  High intakes of saturated fat elevate LDL (lousy) cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in meats, whole fat dairy, and coconut/palm oils (found in processed snacks).

To help reduce your intake of saturated fat:

Quit using butter or lard and use vegetable oils: olive, canola, sunflower, and safflower.

Eat foods with omega-3 fats: salmon, walnuts and ground flaxseed or chia seeds

Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy: skim or 1% milk, non-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, part-skim mozzarella

Avoid trans-fats they are found in highly processed foods.  In the ingredients, if it says the food contains hydrogenated fat, put it back.

Select  lean proteins:

Check for the label: loin or round in meats

Take the skin off your chicken or turkey, don’t have it breaded and fried

Bake, broil, air fry, grill, roast, stew or stir-fry lean meats, fish and poultry

Instead of having hamburger try ground turkey or ground bison

If you brown hamburger, drain the fat off or put it in a strainer and rinse with with hot water

Put your soup in the fridge for a few hours and remove the fat that forms a crust on top of the soup

Include soluble fiber healthy food plan:

Soluble fiber forms a thick, jelly-like substance in your stomach that binds to dietary cholesterol from the foods you are eating and removes it through your digestive system. 

Select fruits and vegetables that are good sources of soluble fiber: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips, apricots, mangoes and oranges.

Try more plant-based meals by including: beans, lentils and soy foods

Eat whole grains: barley, oats, oat bran, bread that is 100% whole grain

Limit refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar), and sugar sweetened beverages.

If you have questions about healthy eating for cholesterol, diabetes or any other nutrition questions you can call the Fort Berthold Diabetes Program (701-627-7931) and set up an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians.  

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

2-  14 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes

2-  7 ounce cans tomato sauce

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1 ½ pounds)

2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

½ cup chopped yellow onion

1 bell pepper chopped

1-  14 ounce canned corn (drained and rinsed), or 1 package frozen corn

1- 14 ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 jalapeno chopped (remove seeds and ribs)

2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian Seasoning

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 ounces light cream cheese

Combine all ingredients in crock pot except the cream cheese.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3 hours.

Take out the chicken and shred with 2 forks, add the cream cheese and stir.  Add the shredded chicken back in and stir.  Serve with shredded cheddar, cilantro or tortilla chips.