Diet is one of the factors that can affect heart health and the risk of heart disease. And all women need to worry about heart disease; they are the leading cause of death among Spanish women. The good news is that diet is one of the things you can control to improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Making relatively simple changes to your daily eating habits will be rewarded quickly, not only feel better, will also improve your overall health. We all know it is not good to eat too much fat and salt. However, it may be difficult to change the diet, especially when you are busy and often takes time to eat three healthy meals a day and prepared at home. Although the idea of changing your diet can be daunting, are diets that can help you! It can be confusing to know what to eat, how much to eat, what to eat fat and what to avoid, and how much salt to use. In this FAQ we will describe three easy diets to follow to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Our bodies need cholesterol to function normally. But if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can build up (called plaque) in the arteries (blood vessels that carry blood rich in oxygen and nutrients, the heart and lungs to all body parts.) High Cholesterol increased narrowing and blockage in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. We all have “good” cholesterol, called HDL, which helps remove cholesterol from the blood. We also have “bad” or LDL cholesterol, which causes cholesterol to build up in the blood. There are two diets that focus on reducing or maintaining cholesterol levels (a natural waxy substance that is found in all parts of the body, including the blood) to reduce the risk of heart disease. A Heart Healthy Diet helps keep cholesterol in the blood, which reduces the chance of heart disease. It is important to note that the Diet is not the only thing that can affect cholesterol levels. Genes affect the speed at which it occurs and removes cholesterol from the blood; Being overweight tends to increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and physical activity (30 minutes on most days of the week) helps reduce LDL. Before menopause (when periods stop), women typically have lower levels than men of the same age cholesterol. As they age women and men, their cholesterol levels rise until about 60-65 years old. But after 50 years or so (when menopause begins), women often have higher levels than men of the same age cholesterol. Before starting any type of diet plan be sure to speak first with your physician. You might want to ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian (RD) who can help you choose foods and plan menus, monitor progress and encourage you to continue the diet. Here are some general guidelines to follow to provide Healthy Diets for Heart. Review the following table to determine, for each of the diets, the daily amounts of saturated fat, total cholesterol, fat and sodium you should consume. Choose foods low in saturated fat. Saturated fat raises the level of “bad” cholesterol more than any other food that you consume. It is found mostly in animal foods such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry with skin, whole-milk dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel and palm oils. Most other vegetable oils are low in saturated fat. Some foods low in saturated fat include fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products low in fat or fat free. Some processed foods (such as frozen meals and canned foods) can be high in saturated fat, so you better check package labels before purchasing these types of foods. Choose a diet that is moderate in fat Total. No need to remove all the fat from your diet. A moderate-fat diet will provide enough calories to satisfy your hunger, which will help you consume fewer calories, maintaining a healthy weight and reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. However, remember that it is important to maintain the level of total fat within the levels indicated in the table below, depending on which diet you follow. You should replace saturated fat saturated fat, so as not to exceed these levels. Choose foods low in cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal foods can also raise blood cholesterol; many of these foods are also high in saturated fat. To reduce dietary cholesterol, eat fruits, vegetables, cereals, dairy products low in fat or fat-free, and moderate amounts of lean meat, skinless poultry and fish. Cut down on sodium. If you have high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, and many people have it, your doctor may ask you to reduce your sodium or salt. Even if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, try not to consume more than 2.4000 milligrams of sodium per day. You can choose low-sodium foods, which will also help lower cholesterol levels, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, dairy products low in fat or fat-free, and moderate amounts of lean meat. To add flavor to your food, add herbs and spices instead of table salt are high in sodium. There are many different combinations of spices that come in containers similar to salt shakers, which you can find in stores; however, some contain salt. Be sure to read the labels of these products before buying them. Watch your weight. It is not uncommon for people who are overweight have higher blood cholesterol than people who are not overweight. When you reduce the fat in your diet, you are not only reducing cholesterol and saturated fat, calories. This will help you lose weight and improve blood cholesterol, and both factors will reduce the risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to lose weight, including a regular exercise program if you are overweight. Regular exercise is important even if you are not overweight. It will help to reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve your overall health. Use reduced sodium or no salt products. Buy fresh, frozen or canned with no salt vegetable. Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked or processed types. Choose cereals ready to serve low in sodium. Limit cured foods (bacon and ham), foods packed in brine (such as pickles, olives and sauerkraut) and condiments (such as mono sodium amalgamate, mustard, horseradish, ketchup and Bicarb barbecue.) Choose foods rather than spicy foods too salty! Flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar and seasoning grease. Start by cutting salt intake by half. Cook rice, pasta and cereals without salt. Decrease intake of rice, pasta and cereal mixes instantly or flavorings, to which they are often added salt. Choose foods and fast foods with less sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, pizzas and packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings; they often contain large amounts of sodium. To eliminate some sodium rinse canned foods such as tuna.