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Cholesterol Concerns


bshapiro
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Just got bloodwork back from Dr. - - cholesterol is way high, and if in 4 mos it doesnt get better, we are going to talk about meds.

No more cheese? Meat?

Any similar experiences? Advice?

I'm willing to give up the ice cream at night and milk in my coffee - -but beef and lamb and cheese will be very hard-

B

"Of all places, only at the table is the first hour never dull."

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Eat more foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids--salmon, sardines, herring, etc. Also tofu, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds. I add ground psyllium husks to my morning smoothies, and it is also supposed to be helpful.

Supplements like garlic tablets and Omega-3 may also help reduce blood cholesterol levels.

(If you scroll down to the bottom of each of the links I posted, you can see how each herb and supplement rates in terms of effectiveness for helping with certain conditions, based on scientific studies--psyllium husks get an "A", for example, for helping lower cholesterol, but only a "C" in helping with hyperglycemia.)

Start exercising more, too, if you don't already, and lose weight if you need to.

My good cholesterol had good numbers. but my bad cholesterol was somewhat high. I still ate all the bad foods I ate before (fatty foods are good), but in smaller quantities. I also lost 15 pounds, exercised more, and I started taking garlic tablets and Omega-3 supplements. My bad cholesterol is more reasonable now, but it's difficult to say which helped more--exercise and weight-loss, or the supplements. I would guess the former rather than the latter, at least in my case.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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Omega-3 fatty acids tend to do more for lowering triglyceride levels (related to sugar intake) when taken at a dosage of 2 grams/day. Also, twice daily doses of timed-release Niacin have been shown to have great affects on lowering cholesterol and increasing artery health, but as with the Statin medicines, some monitoring of liver function is necessary.

But don't rule out diet, much as we all want to. You need to examine and lower your intake of saturated fats, and you should watch out for foods gratuitously high in cholesterol - you know what they are. Fatty meats, butter, egg yolks...

Aerobic Exercise is a must, and can turn quite pleasurable too - when you reach a level with a form of exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there for a minimum of 20 minutes, the endorphins that cause "runner's high" start to kick in, and it feels euphoric. If you're allergic to exercise, try 'power walking' - walking as fast as you can (build to it slowly) and then stay at maximum speed for 20-30 minutes.

But while all these things help, you'll (sadly) want to cut those fatty pieces off the steak and forgo their eating pleasure, and you'll want to lower your intake of cholesterol (and the saturated fats that also raise them).

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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The first thing I would say is to find a good registered dietitian (good = one that doesn't suck the joy out of eating by setting unrealistic expectations). *I will admit that I am probably biased* because this is my professional field, but a good one can take into account your lifestyle, what you are willing to change, compromise on, or absolutely CAN'T give up. S/he should serve as a coach to help you reach your goals in a managable way and take into account any other medications/supplements you are on and conditions you may have.

Although it may seem expensive to start (especially if insurance does not cover it or you don't have insurance), meds aren't exactly cheap either (though they usually are covered by insurance). It's a personal decision...

OK, so this is my 2 cents:

1. Exercise (aerobic) will generally raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Even just being more active in general helps. If you're already really active, consider how you can bump it up in duration or intensity.

(The extra activity, plus loss of some "excess" weight, is what I had to to do personally to lower my cholesterol into normal range after 6 years. I genetically have high cholesterol and found out at the age of 20. I have never been overweight, but losing 10 pounds that I didn't need by moving more most likely helped.)

2. Avoid trans fat (which is thought to lower HDL and raise LDL) and saturated fat (which raises LDL). Trans fat is now on nutrition labels, but it's also really common in fried foods, baked goods (especially packaged ones)...anything made with partially hydrogenated vegetables oils. Research is pointing to trans fat as just as harmful,if not more so, than saturated. As far as saturated fat, this is where those red meats, cheeses, butter, high-fat dairy, etc. need to be carefully chosen/eaten in modest portions or avoided.

3. Eat omega-3 fatty acids (which lower triglycerides and total cholesterol). Fish oils contain DHA and EPA (2 types of omega-3's), which lower triglycerides. Certain plant sources (flaxseeds, walnuts) contain a different type of omega-3 (ALA) that lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides.

It's really individual how to get enough of these. Eating a lot of these may be a "healthier" way to gain weight, but typically people with high cholesterol are looking to maintain or lose weight. If you're a woman of child-bearing age, there may be limits on how much of certain fatty fish you want to eat to avoid mercury. Some people may want to take in fish oil supplements instead of eating the actual fish, but again, it's an individual situation. Some people have side effects from supplements (e.g. fishy burps)- but I suppose that can happen from eating the fish itself, right? :wink:

4. Eat more soluble fiber, which can lower total cholesterol. Sources of these include oats, beans/legumes, and fruits/vegetables (certain ones higher than others, like apples). How much you should aim for is, again, individual.

So figuring out what to eat (and how much to eat) and what to avoid...there's general advice that's good, and certain things that work better for some people than others. But in order how to make any eating changes work for your personal life, I still strongly recommend seeing a registered dietitian. If you PM me and would like to share where you are, I might be able to recommend a colleague. If you prefer to make your decisions without a dietitian, I genuinely wish you the best of luck!

Edited because I misspelled "dietitian" :laugh:

Edited by Sony (log)
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All great advice, but also know that not everyone can change their levels through diet and exercise. Just as some people with bad dietary habits and no exercise can have great numbers, you may or may not be able to change those numbers.

Some medications may also impact the numbers - if you are taking other prescriptions, you might want to see if they could be a factor.

Worth trying the diet and exercise routines (especially if you are male) but don't get down on yourself if they don't work. Niacin was my best non-prescription - and the only time I have called 911 - after months of use, I had a flush that scared me that badly.

Some studies are suggesting statin drugs may have additional beneficial results anyway - so if you can tolerate them (and their cost) taking them may be a good decision.

Oh, and by the way, if you do the research, the conclusion is that there is no set number that is bad. What they have determined is a number that can be effectively lowered by the drugs. It is an interesting insight in how the prescription is used.

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Niacin was my best non-prescription - and the only time I have called 911 - after months of use, I had a flush that scared me that badly.

They (doctors) are specifically using the timed-release version on Niacin, which avoids the flush - but Niacin still has to be monitored by a physician for various reasons related to the liver. Still, it's great for artery health and lowering cholesterol, as is Omega-3 which is proven effective in daily doses of 2 grams (best to buy the "no repeat" capsules at that strentgh.

But taking these doesn't let you eat a fatty rib steak with a pat of butter on it - and boy, I wish it did, because that's how I ate for 30 years! :angry:

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Frankly, unless you have trouble tolerating the meds, have specific contraindications or cost is a major issue, I would not worry about avoiding them as they are very good and even reverse some disease that is already there.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thank you all for advice and sharing!

After talking to many people here's what i think i'm going to do:

1. Trade in the sheep milk's yogurt for oatmeal in the morning.

2. Fish Oil Pills, also possibly Polyphenols (plant sterols - the stuff found in red wine), Red Yeast Rice (natual form of Statin)

3. Soy milk instead of Creamline milk in my coffee.

4. Excersise (this one is the hardest - - i have no idea how i'll get it in- - but i'm not giving up beef and cheese - - if i've got to do it i will).

5. 30% reduction in beef and cheese.

I'll keep you posted! Also keep sending feedback an ideas!

B

"Of all places, only at the table is the first hour never dull."

website

Latest Article

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One thing about oatmeal for breakfast--whenever I have oatmeal, I get hungry after a couple of hours, compared to 3-4 hours after having a scrambled egg and rye crackers. It's also still important to have protein in the mornings. So add some low-fat yoghurt to your oatmeal, or some lean protein to your breakfasts (or as a mid-morning snack). Something like tuna with Ryvita rye crackers (or the like) are good. The tuna is lean, and rye crackers add fiber (and help keep you full longer).

Also, be careful with what soy milk you buy. Stay away from ones like Silk which are chockfull of additives. The ones at Chinese grocery stores are usually better. Or go with low-fat milk (1% isn't bad--skim is gross!).

Adding exercise can be easier than it seems. One of my mother's friends started walking during her lunch break, which was only 30 minutes long. She didn't change much else in her life, but just from adding that 30-minute walk, she lost 10 pounds. If you can still manage to eat lunch at your desk while you're working, you can use your lunch (or breaks) to go for a walk, or run up and down the stairs.

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