Other ways to trim saturated fats from your diet: Drink skim or low-fat milk rather than two percent or whole. (Toddlers can switch to skim or low-fat milk starting at age two.) "And choose lean meats and skinless poultry, keeping servings to about the size of your palm," suggests Thayer. Finally, avoid processed cookies, crackers, chips, and bakery products, which are often high in trans-fats (also called "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" fat or oil in the ingredient list). Check the nutrition label to find snacks that are low in both saturated and trans-fat.
Whole-grain bread and cereals as well as beans, barley, and lentils are good sources of vitamins A, B, and E. These act as antioxidants, which may help neutralize free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules in the blood that may contribute to plague buildup in the arteries. Whole grains are also "packed with fiber, which is potent in lowering LDL," says Wahida Karmally, RD, director of nutrition at the Irving Center for Clinical Research at Columbia University in New York City.
Food Fix: Because most of us get only 15 grams of fiber per day while 25 to 30 grams is ideal, it's wise to choose whole grain cereal such as oatmeal and opt for whole grain bread instead of white as often as possible. Don't worry. Your kids will get used to it. Aim for at least three, one-ounce servings of whole grains per day. The Nurses' Health Study, which followed more than 75,000 women over 10 years, found that those who consumed an average of two and one-half servings of whole grains daily (from whole grain breakfast cereal to popcorn) had at least a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than women who consumed the least (less than one serving daily). According to the study, the more whole grains you consume, the greater your protection against heart disease is likely to be.
To spot whole grain products, look for whole on the nutrition label, as in "whole wheat," "whole corn," or "whole rye." Also, check the fiber content. Look for foods with two or more grams of fiber per serving.