First Steps: One Change to Start A Low-Cholesterol Diet

  • Karen Graham
  • December 6, 2012

Beginning a low-cholesterol diet after a lifetime of routine can be very challenging. Here, nutrition experts told us what they would do if they could only make one change to begin a cholesterol-lowering diet.

Write it Out

“List 16 of your favorite plant-based foods,” recommends Carol Ireton-Jones, PhD, RD, LD, Nutrition Therapy Consultant in Carrollton, Texas. “By listing what people like, they can identify things that they can eat in place of processed foods and fats, providing is an easy way to decrease cholesterol and fat intake.”

Select Unprocessed Foods

“Eat whole, real foods and avoid packaged processed foods, which contain added sugars, sweeteners and omega-6 oils that all contribute to increasing inflammation in the body, which can in turn increase cholesterol levels,” says Susan Dopart, Nutrition Consultant in Santa Monica, California, and author of “A Recipe for Life by the Doctor’s Dietitian” (SGJ Publishing, 2009).

Add in Oatmeal

Karen Graham, RD, owner of Integrative Nutrition Consultants in Scottsdale, Arizona, recommends using oatmeal to lower cholesterol levels. “I have been very successful in lowering cholesterol in many of my clients. Many of them have been able to go off of their medications — or never had to start them. I have them eat ½ cup of steel-cut oats five days a week for six weeks. That’s all it takes!”

Regular rolled oats do not have the same effect as steel-cut oats, according to Graham. She explains that this is due to the fact that steel-cut oats contain a large amount of beta glucan (fiber). “This special fiber binds to cholesterol in the body and removes it,” she says. “Steel-cut oats take about 30 minutes to cook. They take that long because of the beta glucan. Regular rolled oats that take 15 minutes to cook have less of this beta glucan — which is why they cook faster, and why they are not as efficient at lowering cholesterol. Instant oats, where you just add hot water, do not have any beta glucan, and hence don’t lower your cholesterol. They now have ‘quick cooking’ steel-cut oats, but again, they have less beta glucan so they do not lower cholesterol as well as the regular kind.”

Add in Beans

In the experience of Jan Patenaude, RD, CLT, Director of Medical Nutrition for Signet Diagnostic Corporation, adding in beans is a wise first move for a low-cholesterol diet. “Years ago, people who thought they were on a cholesterol-lowering diet but weren’t experiencing success sure got their levels to go down once they added beans and nuts to their diets on a daily basis,” she says.

Julie Murphy before & after

The Superhero Diet

  • Karen Graham
  • July 1, 2012

Spiderman and Batman are both soaring into movie theatres this summer. They’re buff, tough and ready to kick some serious butt – but doesn’t saving the planet have them starving? Arizona-based dietitian Karen Graham breaks down how much food one day in their super lifestyles would require. The short answer is a lot.

Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker)

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 167lbs

To lift up to 10 tons: Peter requires lots and lots of protein to maintain his Spidey strength. 12 eggs, 3 turkey legs, 3 salmon fillets and 7 breasts a day.

To outrun a fast car: This superhero gets revved up with energizing, high quality carbs like 12 sweet potatoes, 5 cups brown rice and 10 cups oatmeal.

To scale buildings and swing from webs: He gets all his stamina from non stop snacking: 5 bananas, 5 oranges, 5 cups broccoli and 15 cups raw spinach.

Estimated daily calorie intake: 19,052

Batman (aka Bruce Wayne)

Height: 6’2″
Weight: 210lbs

To run Wayne Enterprises and hack into computers: This job is all about optimal brain function, so he needs foods high in omega-3s: 2 salmon fillets, 1 cup walnuts and 2oz. chia seeds.

To keep up his muscle-building regimen: Holy protein, Batman! To build muscle, he’ll want 2 chicken breasts, 6 eggs, 1 cup walnuts, 2 salmon fillets, 2 cups broccoli and 2 cups spinach.

To defeat villains in hand-to-hand combat: High fiber carbs – like 2 cups oatmeal and 2 bananas will booast his energy.

Estimated daily calorie intake: 4,826

Click here for the original article in EveryDay 

Got (Non-Diary) Milk?

  • Karen Graham
  • June 6, 2009




As the mustached celebrities in those milk ads tell us milk does a body good thanks to its calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients But what if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan or simply not a fan of cow’s milk? You have plenty of nondairy options- from the more common ones like soy and rice milks to the nut, oat, and even hemp varieties. “I tell patients with lactose issues to explore all of these nondairy alternatives because they all meet different nutritional needs and have unique tastes,” says Karen Graham, RD, an Arizona-based integrative nutritionist. What’s more, each of these milks has a distinct color, texture, and flavor that make it fun and interesting to cook with. San Francisco based chef and nutrition consultant Grace Avila shares her favorite ways to use these milks.

Soy Milk

The original and most popular nondairy milk, soy milk has a nutritional profile similar to cow’s milk – it’s high in protein (seven grams per cup to skim milk’s nearly nine) and rich in iron. Soy milk is also low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Some people, however, can’t get past the bitter aftertaste and strong odor. If this sounds like you, test the vanilla and chocolate-flavored varieties.

Try it: Substitute soy milk in your morning coffee, oatmeal, or any other recipe that calls for cow’s milk. Note that freezing soy milk can alter the flavor so don’t try making soy ice cream.

Rice Milk

Made from a mixture of brown rice, water, and sweeteners, rice milk – like its main ingredient – is high in carbohydrates and low in protein (only one gram of protein per cup). Because it has fewer nutrients than other nondairy milks, store-bought rice milk is typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D, says Graham.

Try it: Add rice milk to squash or pumpkin soup for a touch of sweetness, or use it as a milk substitute in your brownie recipe.

Hemp Milk

Boasting 10 essential amino acids and a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s, hemp milk – made by blending hemp seeds and water – is an excellent source of protein. Also, one cup contains 16 percent more calcium than soy or cow’s milk.

Try it: Hemp milk’s thick, slightly gritty texture makes it a perfect addition to smoothies and creamy soups. Avila blends blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries with hemp milk and adds a scoop of whey for a protein-packed smoothie

Almond Milk

Snacking on almonds is a surefire way to add protein and fiber to your diet – so it’s a bit shocking that a cup of almond milk only contains one to two grams of protein. Why? The drink is more water than nuts, says Graham, which makes it low in calories – only 60 per cup. Yet it contains plenty of vitamin E and trace minerals.

Try it: Almond milk has a creamy consistency and slightly sweet, nutty taste that work nicely in baked goods such as muffins and cookies.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is made from a mixture of water and oat groats (the grain hulled and smashed), along with a few other grains such as barley or brown rice. Low in fat and high in calcium, folic acid, and iron – oat milk is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. Unfortunately, it does contain gluten – a problem for those sensitive to wheat.

Try it: Pour it over cereal, substitute it for cow’s milk in baked goods, or add it to a curry sauce. Oat milk is quite versatile because it has the mildest and least-sweet taste of all the nondairy milk, says Avila.