January 28, 2023

Do you know your numbers? When it comes to your heart health, it’s important to know your cholesterol numbers to manage your risk of heart disease and stroke. With knowledge comes power – allowing you to make dietary and lifestyle changes to improve those numbers every day! Hy-Vee dietitians are here to help answer important questions about cholesterol and top foods to add to your diet to lower your risk of heart disease.

Wondering what cholesterol is? Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by your liver and is needed to make vitamins and other hormones. Cholesterol circulates in your blood, but as it increases so do the health risks associated with high cholesterol. You may have heard of “good” cholesterol or HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). HDL helps protect against strokes and heart attacks as it carries LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and back to your liver where it is broken down and passed from your body. “Bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) contributes to fatty buildups in your arteries, narrowing the arteries and increasing your risk for stroke. High cholesterol contributes to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke.

When it comes to managing your cholesterol and improving your numbers, simple diet changes and incorporating exercise into your routine can help! Foods such as avocados, beans, whole grains, vegetables, fatty fish and more can help improve your heart health. Beans contain protein and fiber and can be used to replace meat in some meals, helping lower your saturated fat intake. This can help lower LDL cholesterol. Vegetables are not only packed with vitamins and minerals but also fiber. Fiber can help reduce LDL cholesterol and help lower overall risk for heart disease. Fiber can also help keep you full longer, helping you maintain a healthy body weight improving your overall health and well-being.

It’s easy to pack extra vegetables and beans into your diet through soups, chilis and stews. Try this warm winter recipe to sneak in an extra dose of fiber. Pair it with a whole-grain dinner roll or side of brown rice to add even more heart-health-supporting foods to this meal!

Slow Cooker Sausage-Bean Stew
Serves 6

All You Need:
1½ lbs Midwest pork ground pork sausage (or sub ground turkey sausage)
5 cups Hy-Vee vegetable stock
1 cup Hy-Vee Short Cuts chopped white onions
1 (15 oz) can Hy-Vee no-salt-added dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can Hy-Vee no-salt-added pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can Hy-Vee no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz) can Hy-Vee tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 Hy-Vee dried bay leaves
2 tbsp refrigerated minced garlic
1 tsp Hy-Vee ground black pepper
½ tsp Hy-Vee dried oregano leaves
½ tsp Hy-Vee dried thyme leaves
¼ tsp Hy-Vee ground sage
2 cups green or rainbow Swiss chard, stalks and ribs removed, leaves chopped
Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

All you do:

  1. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until brown, stirring to break into crumbles; drain. Transfer sausage to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add vegetable stock, onions, beans, undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic, pepper, oregano, thyme and sage. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or on LOW for 10 hours.
  2. Add Swiss chard; cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves; ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Recipe source: www.hy-vee.com (https://www.hy-vee.com/recipes-ideas/recipes/slow-cooker-sausage-bean-stew). Ready to know your numbers? This February 2023 take advantage of our FREE Biometric Screening tour. A Hy-Vee dietitian will collect a blood sample from a finger prick that will be used to determine cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels. They will also take resting blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference. Appointments will be on a first-come, first-served basis at select Hy-Vee locations in February 2023 while supplies last. Fasting for a period of 10 to 12 hours in advance is required. Request your free screening appointment today. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.