Smart Food Choices to Lower Your Cardio-Metabolic Risk

January is just around the corner. With holidays soon to be behind us it may be time to assess your health upon the new year and that includes cardio-metabolic risk.

What is ‘cardio-metabolic risk’?

Cardio-metabolic risk refers to your chances of having heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Unfortunately, you can’t determine most of these risk factors at home, so you will need to see a medical professional.

Risk Factors:

  • A large waistline (35”+ for a woman and 40”+ for a man)
  • High triglyceride levels (>150mg/dL)
  • Low good HDL cholesterol level (<50mg/dL for women and <40mg/dL for men)
  • High blood pressure (>130/85)
  • High fasting blood sugar (>100mg/dL)
  • Insulin resistance
  • An inactive lifestyle

What can you do to lower your cardio-metabolic risk?

Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a heart-healthy eating plan, managing stress, getting regular exercise and not smoking.

Make Smart Food Choices:

Small changes for big results

The good news is that small dietary changes add up quickly. Enjoy a variety of healthy foods. Surveys show fewer than 1 in 10 people eat enough fruits and vegetables, instead they consume too many processed foods.

Think color! Add color to your plate and you will see many more fruits and vegetables that have a lot of needed vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy.

A healthy eating plan limits foods high in saturated (solid) fats, sodium and added sugars, but includes lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

Balance Your Food Choices

Choosing foods with less sugar and saturated fat while trying to stay within your calorie limit does not need to be difficult. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent eating plan that naturally reduces your intake of saturated fats, sodium and added sugars while maximizing plant-based foods.

The focus is less on processed foods, thus they are higher in fiber and good fats that may lead to more stable blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and lower your risk for other health problems.

 Focus on whole fruits and vegetables

  • Keep fresh fruit rinsed and accessible so that you can eat it when needed.
  • Add color to your salads with baby carrots, avocado, shredded red cabbage or blueberries.
  • Try mashed guacamole, avocado or hummus with raw broccoli, colored peppers, sugar snap peas, celery, cherry tomatoes or cauliflower.

 Replace unhealthy saturated-fat with healthy unsaturated-fat

  • Ask for sliced avocados on sandwiches instead of regular fat cheese. Avocados are good sources of unsaturated fat.
  • Replace some meats with fish.
  • Add walnuts, sunflower seeds and avocados to your salad.
  • Cook with plant-based oils like olive or avocado oil instead of butter, ghee or lard.

One step of change at a time can make a big difference in your overall health. You can do this!

Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: She will look forward to meeting you!