I've been digging around my files of research and advice from nutritionists and dietitians to assist others with health issues and thought I'd share some of what I have here in hopes of helping anyone else. I will add more info as I come across and go through it. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments below! Quick Check for a Healthy Meal [TABLE="class: grid, width: 500, align: center"] [TR] [TD]1/2 Plate[/TD] [TD]Vegetables[/TD] [TD]Out of this half plate of vegetables (meaning out of your entire meal, half your meal/plate should be veggies), half should be raw and half should be cooked i.e. 1/4 plate of raw veggies and 1/4 plate of cooked veggies. Example: lettuce & tomato salad and steamed carrots and peas[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]1/4 Plate[/TD] [TD]Staple Foods (Starch)[/TD] [TD]These are mostly starchy foods that often provide a lot of carbs and should take up no more than 1/4 portion of your entire meal. Examples: rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, green fig, breadfruit, yam, etc.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]1/4 Plate[/TD] [TD]Meat & Alternatives (Protein)[/TD] [TD]These are usually your protein sources and should take up no more than 1/4 of your entire meal. Examples: lean meat, fish, poultry, cheese or legumes.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]On the side[/TD] [TD]Fruit[/TD] [TD]This does not count when you are splitting up your plate/meal according to the sections described above. Have some fruit on the side to have after your meal. It cleanses the palate, is good for your teeth, and provides an additional source of much-needed vitamins and minerals and many fruits are known as great sources of fiber. Examples: Apples, bananas, grapes.[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] [Photo source: wellness-therapist-info.com] Tips to Lower Cholesterol and Fat: 1. Learn to think low fat in food selection and preparation. 2. Omit fatty, fried, or "fast" foods, and commercially baked items. 3. Bake, roast, steam, or grill foods rather than fry. 4. Skim fats and oils from gravies and soups. 5. Cut off visible fat and skin from meat and poultry. 6. Choose fat free or low fat producst such as skimmed milk or low fat milk, low fat cheese, low fat yogurt, low fat spreads. 7. Use fish or skinless poultry more often than red meats. 8. Eat dried peas and beans (not canned), fruits, vegetables, rolled oats, and whole grain products more often. 9. Include staple foods, such as ground provisions in moderate amounts. 10. Reduce portion sizes for weight control. 11. Exercise at least one-half hour, four times per week. [Photo Source: cholesterollvl.iowatracs.us] Excellent Sources Of Iron: Liver, meat, heart, sardines Dried peas and beans (pigeon or gungo peas, black-eyed peas, red kidney beans/peas and broad beans) Dried seeds such as pumpkin and watermelon seeds Raisins, prunes Dark leafy vegetables (pak choi, cabbage bush/bush cabbage, spinach, callaloo and broccoli) Flour, bread, and cornmeal which are enriched with an easily absorbed type of iron Dark brown, crude sugar (formerly known as brown sugar because of the high molasses content) and molasses *The brown sugars commonly used today are not rich in iron and cannot be said to be more nutritious than white, granulated sugar. Iron Content Of Some Foods [TABLE="class: grid, width: 500, align: center"] [TR] [TD]Food[/TD] [TD]Portions[/TD] [TD]Iron (mg)[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Liver[/TD] [TD]2 oz/60g[/TD] [TD]3.4[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Cooked, enriched cornmeal[/TD] [TD]1 cup/240ml[/TD] [TD]2.9[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Sardines[/TD] [TD]2 oz/60g[/TD] [TD]2.5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Cooked "greens" (spinach, callaloo, bhagi)[/TD] [TD]1/2 cup/120ml[/TD] [TD]2.5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Molasses[/TD] [TD]1 Tbsp/15ml[/TD] [TD]2.4[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Beef[/TD] [TD]1 Tbsp/15ml[/TD] [TD]3.5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Stewed peas[/TD] [TD]1/2 cup/120ml[/TD] [TD]2.3[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Raisins (10 prunes)[/TD] [TD]2/3 cup[/TD] [TD]2.1[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Breadfruit[/TD] [TD]2-3 slices/90g[/TD] [TD]1.7[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Cooked Rice[/TD] [TD]1 cup/240ml[/TD] [TD]1.7[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Meat[/TD] [TD]2 oz/60g[/TD] [TD]1.4[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Enriched bread[/TD] [TD]2 slices/50g[/TD] [TD]1.2[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Chicken[/TD] [TD]2 oz/60g[/TD] [TD]0.9[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Peanuts[/TD] [TD]1 oz/30g[/TD] [TD]0.7[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Green bananas/fig[/TD] [TD]2 fig/65g[/TD] [TD]0.6[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Fresh Fish[/TD] [TD]4 oz/120g[/TD] [TD]0.2[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] [Photo Source: missionnutrition.files.wordpress.com] Choosing Less Sugar Prepare foods with less sugar. Add less sugar to cereals, juices, and other beverages. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of sweet and sugary foods. Drink little to no soft drinks and aerated drinks, fruit drinks and punches. Use water, coconut water, or unsweetened drinks more often. Limit table sugar, syrup, jams, jellies, candy, sweet rolls, cakes, pies, and unsweetened fruits. Instead, use fresh fruit or fruit canned in natural juices or water. Remember sugar has a lot of names. Look out for these names on your labels: honey, lactose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, corn sweetener, natural sweeteners. [Photo Source: fedup.s3.amazonaws.com] Choosing Less Fat Use little to no butter, margarine, shortening and cooking oil when preparing meals. use non-stick pans, vegetable sprays, and extra virgin cooking oil instead. Cut down on the use of gravies, rich sauces, mayonnaise, full fat products, heavy cream, batters, butter sauces, and salad dressings. Use low fat or skim milk, low fat cheese, low fat yogurt, sour cream and low fat salad dressings instead. Trim the fats and skins from meats and poultry. Fry foods less often. Bake, broil, boil, steam, grill, roast, poach, stir-fry, or microwave foods instead. Use less high fat meat products such as corned beef, bacon, sausages, and fried meats. Eat more lean meats, fish, poultry, egg whites, and dried peas and beans. Remove excess fats from gravies, stews, and soups. Chill to harden the fats, throw away fat. Eat less "fast foods" and convenience foods eg. chicken and chips, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizzas. Use less cookies, pastries, chocolates, cakes, and ice creams. Instead use rice cakes, angel food cakes, sorbet, and gelatin desserts. [Photo Source: whatcardiologyis.com] Choosing Less Salt Use less salt in cooking, replace with fresh seasoning, herbs, and spices. Salt should not be added to food at the table - remove salt shaker from table. Use fresh onion, garlic, and green seasoning instead of seasoning salt, bottled sauces, and bouillon cubes. Eat fewer high salt foods like salted and cured meats, salted fish, bacon, sausages, ham, and hot dogs. Eat fewer convenience and fast foods. Limit the use of salted nuts, crackers, and chips. Use baked unsalted nuts, unsalted or low sodium crackers, or fresh fruit instead. Use yeast instead of baking powder to make bread products eg. roti. Read labels carefully. If sodium appears high on the list, use sparingly or avoid completely. [Photo Source: heart.org] Choosing More Fiber Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Use fresh fruit rather than juice, eat edible skins, seeds, and hulls whenever possible. Use more peas and beans. Use raw, fresh vegetables, especially dark green leafy and yellow vegetables like pumpkin, cabbage, patchoi, carrots, and dasheen leaves. Use more starchy roots, fruits, and tubers such as yams, dasheen, eddoes, sweet potatoes, green figs, and breadfruits. Drink plenty liquids, at least 8 glasses per day. These include water, milk, fruit juices, and vegetable juices. Snack on fiber rich foods like bran muffins, nuts and seeds, fruit breads, and fruit cookies. [Photo Source: olivera.com] What To Avoid White, pre-packaged, and/or processed foods like white bread/roti, processed pre-packaged deli meats and hams, and frozen fries. Many white items such as plain white flour are often stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber when bleached; pre-packaged and processed items are often preserved with additional salt, sugar, oil and/or harmful preservatives and additives such as aspartame, carageenan, nitrates, and nitrites. Dark, highly flavored beverages. Read your labels; many dark beverages are simply water or subtle juices like apple juices with coloring, sugar, acid, and minor extracts added to make up the taste. Clear or lighter colored beverages typically have less of that stuff than the dark beverages do. Too much starch and protein. A big problem for people with high blood pressure and cholesterol is often that they are eating too much of the things that fill them with cholesterol, fats, sodium, etc. and not enough cleansing (fibrous) food such as water and fibrous fruits and vegetables to keep those levels from building up. Cut down on your starch and protein intake following the portions listed in the first chart above, and increase your veggie and fruit consumption as suggested above as well. While starch and protein can be the biggest cholesterol providers, fibrous foods help keep it down. Fats, oil and grease. Cook curries and stews without oil and skim oil off the top of your finished pots of food when cooled. Oily and greasy foods are a known ticket to clogged arteries and related health problems. If oil absolutely must be used, try vegetable sprays or extra virgin olive oil, but do try using oil-free cooking methods whenever possible. Fats include whole milk, cooking cream, regular cheese, butter, margarine, other animal derived fats, shortening, egg yolks, marbled or fatty meats, meats with skin, shrimp, mayonnaise, whole milk products. White flour. Replace white flour with the following mixture to make your own multi-grain products (eg. roti, bread, bake etc): flour + wheat bran + rolled oats + ground flax seed + yeast. Use as you would use plain white flour. No baking powder is needed. (see above mention of replacing baking powder with yeast) Fast cooked meats. The slower meat is cooked, the more healthy stuff remains intact, thus the healthier it is for you. Avoid fast cooking like deep frying or pan frying and opt for slow cooked, boiled, broiled, oven roasted, etc. (see above for more examples) Overcooked vegetables. Add vegetables when you're close to the end of cooking your meal whenever possible. For a majority of vegetables, it is possible to eat them raw. Many veggies retain more nutrients and flavor when cooked for shorter periods of time, rather than cooking them to the point of unflavored/bland mush that *needs* seasoning. More natural flavors from your veggies = less artificial seasoning and flavor additives needed. Dry seasoning and additives. Opt for fresh seasoning whenever possible, and add them to your meal when finished cooking. Rub between your hands before adding to your dish to release more flavor. Opt for sea salt over table salt, whole spices over ground ones (eg peppercorns, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, etc), sweet/bell peppers over paprika, onions and garlic over bouillon cubes and onion/garlic salt or powder, canned or homemade coconut milk over powdered, homemade stock and broth over powder packets or cans, and fresh herbs over dried basil, oregano, parsley etc. The natural flavors of the veggies added last will decrease the amount of seasoning you need, and the fresh herbs also go a long way. I've prepared meals with veggies added last and minimal fresh seasoning (no salt!), that were successfully positively received and raved over with no suspicion. Full cream and whole milk. Choose low fat, skimmed, and low cholesterol products instead or omit whenever possible. This includes whipped cream, cooking cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cheddar cheese, butter, powdered milk and powdered milk products such as many vegetarian meat substitutes and powdered coconut milk, ice cream, cream cheese, cheesecake, milk chocolates and many manufactured chocolates, manufactured pudding, cakes, sweets, wafers, biscuits, pastries, and cookies etc. 2 blocks of dark chocolate a day (over 80%) is healthy; raw cacao nibs is healthier. Sweeteners and Artificial flavoring, additives, and related ingredients. Sometimes a vague listing such as "artificial flavor/additive/ingredient" can mask something like butter flavor, milk fat, aspartame, artificial sugar, etc. Other times this is listed specifically but it is very easy to overlook. If buying canned fruits, look for fruits in water or their own light juices instead of heavy syrup. Opt for pure maple syrup or pure local honey rather than artificially flavored maple syrup (such as commercially sold pancake syrup) and artificial honey. Look for natural sweeteners rather than artificial or heavily processed sugar, but use sparingly still. Trans Fats, Sodium, Cholesterol, and Saturated Fats. Check your labels and look for trans fats that are less than 1%, keep cholesterol down to less than 5mg, and try not to cross 1500mg/1 tsp a day with salt/sodium. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats should always be higher than saturated fats. Saturated fats should be less than or equal to 0.5g. Iron rich foods with Calcium rich foods. Some foods cancel out each other's effectiveness or minimize it to the point that there is little to no nutritional effect from them combined. Iron and calcium are two of those culprits. Wait at least a 1/2 hour to 1 hour between iron and calcium foods. For the most effective nutrient absorption, do not consume at the same time or within 1/2 hour of each other. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption so foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, tomatoes, etc) are often recommended with iron rich foods such as spinach, meat, beets, nuts, etc. If taking vitamins, try to take iron and calcium separately, at different times. Iron is often said to be better absorbed at night (while sleeping) but some may find that this causes sleeplessness and nightmares. Iron may also cause constipation so an increase in fibrous foods is recommended as well. Overly salty or sweet snacks. Healthy snacks are often recommended between meals. Healthy snacks include open faced sandwiches (protein and veggies on multi grain bread/bread-like food), a glass of milk, yogurt, raw fruit, low-fat cheese, 2 blocks of dark chocolate (over 80%), raw cacao nibs, raw veggies, canned fruit, unsalted nuts in moderation, frozen or dried fruits, angel food cake, steamed or par-streamed veggies, gelatinous desserts (not Jello, which is full of mostly processed sugar), egg white based low-fat and low-sugar or unsweetened desserts, fruit cookies, extracted juices, and smoothies. [Photo Source: affirmyourlife.blogspot.com] *All information supplied from my own experience with advice given to me from countless clinic, GPs, specialists, and hospital visits over the years in addition to instructions received while caring for others with health issues, and proven research additionally tested by myself and others. *This information is not intended for use as a diagnostic tool or to substitute the advice of your health care professional. Before making any dietary change, you should consult your health care professional. If you suspect any health problems or other needs that would require lifestyle changes, you should consult with your health care professional. These are not "hard and fast" rules or mandates by any means. *A follow-up thread will be made soon with information on and names of annual and semi-annual tests, check ups, etc. that are generally recommended by health professionals for the average person as precautionary and monitoring health measures.