How Can I Lower My Cholesterol?

Hi, my name is Steve.  I’m just your average 38 year old husband and father of two.  Let me tell you my story.

Two years ago, I decided to visit my family physician for a check-up.  I was a new dad and felt like I owed it to my kids to be my healthiest.   At 5’11″ and 175 lbs., I was not overweight, and fairly fit.  I really wasn’t expecting any bad news.

Imagine my shock when after reviewing my test results, the doctor delivered an ultimatum:  he would give me three months to lower my cholesterol to under 200, or I’d have to go on Lipitor.  My cholesterol levels were 250, my triglycerides were too high and my numbers were steadily climbing (the year before it had been 240).  Almost everyone in my family has high cholesterol (I even have a cousin in his mid-20′s on Zocor), so I was not feeling especially optimistic at this point about my ability to lower my cholesterol without the aid of drugs.

However, after reading all of the side effects of the drugs, including, but not limited to headaches, diarrhea, muscle pain, joint pain and hair loss, I realized that I owed it to myself to try and lower my cholesterol naturally before giving in to cholesterol lowering medicine.

For the next three months, I half-heartedly embarked on a low fat diet.  I cut back on the sweets and tried to eat a little bit better.

Did it work?  No.  I was really surprised to see that not only did my cholesterol levels not go down, but they actually were higher!  I had gone from 250 to 269 in the three months I had been attempting to LOWER my cholesterol.  I was baffled.  The doctor didn’t even bat an eye as he handed me the Lipitor prescription and told me to fill it pronto, which I did.

That evening, after dinner, I sat there with my pills and began to read the little informational pamphlet Walgreens had attached to the bag.  As I re-read all of the side effects, and I pondered my efforts in the previous three months, I could feel my determination renewing.  So, I tucked the pills away, unopened, into the medicine cabinet and sat down and started to do some real research on how to lower my cholesterol.

It worked.  I was successful.  So successful in fact, that my cholesterol levels went from 269 to 158 in not three months, but two!  My doctor was amazed.  I was amazed at how simple it really was to do it naturally.

I hope you enjoy your time at where we can discuss Tips for a Healthier You! 

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Gracie - May 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm

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What is Normal Cholesterol?

After getting my cholesterol levels back in line of where it should be, I get asked the following question all the time.

What is Normal Cholesterol?

Well, there are two answers to that.  The first we will consider the TOTAL Cholesterol level measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood.  Forget all the specifics of it, we just want the numbers.  Here they are:

Total Cholesterol Levels:

< 200mg    Desirable
200-239mg    Borderline High (Need improvement)
> 240        High (Must improve)

Now for those of you who prefer the breakdown of good cholesterol (HDL) and Bad Cholesterol (LDL), the following numbers are the LDL’s numbers that will guide you to a normal cholesterol range.

Bad Cholesterol Levels (LDL):

<70mg        Best for those individuals with a VERY high risk of heart disease
<100mg        Best for those individuals with a VERY high risk of heart disease
100-129mg    Near Normal Cholesterol Levels
130-159mg    Borderline high (Needs improvement)
160-189mg    High Cholesterol (Must lower cholesterol)
>190mg        Very High (See a doctor and get it controlled)

So looking at the above cholesterol chart we now know where we need to be in order to be in a healthy place and a normal cholesterol range.

Are you in the Normal Cholesterol Range?

To answer this, you need to first be tested and understand your cholesterol levels.  I recommend getting tested at least every year during your annual physical.  If you have high cholesterol then you would need to be tested more often than that.

Once you have your cholesterol test, you can see if you fall into the normal cholesterol ranges as mentioned above.  If for some reason you are above the normal cholesterol levels, please seek out professional help.  Of course, your mind may start to convince you to do it on your own as I was able to lower my cholesterol.  However, first consult your doctor or your dietician to get their take on the matter.  It is not worth trying to get healthy if you have a heart attack while getting yourself into a normal cholesterol range.

Whatever your cholesterol numbers are, diet and exercise can only HELP get you back to into a Normal Cholesterol Range.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Steven - November 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

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High Cholesterol Foods

In order to lower my cholesterol, I would naturally need to stay away from high cholesterol foods.    The problem here is that some of these foods we are accustomed to day in and day out.  This could be just the food that you have grown up with and that is hard to give up.  However, What are you willing to do to lower your cholesterol?

Here are some of those High Cholesterol Foods:

Eggs, Eggs, and Eggs. Forget Rocky with the dozen or so egg yokes here.  If he continued down that path, he could had tipped the scales of cholesterol.  Of course, here we are talking the Egg Yokes.  A typical chicken egg has about 187 mg of Cholesterol and if you can live without the yoke then you can reduce those mg’s to zero.  Now that ain’t no Yolk!

Milk it does a body good. As long as it’s 0% to 1% fat it can do your body good.  Now let’s face it.  We have all grown up drinking milk in a glass, with our cereal, and we even use it in our coffee.  But friends, let’s get the number on this one.  Standard Milk carries 34 mg while non-fat milk can serve up only 5 mg per cup.  So think of that the next time you are looking for the extra cream in your coffee.  Maybe you can go non fat or at least 1%.

Snacks – Cookies, Cakes, mmm.   Since we have given up the milk above, why not give up the cookies and milk. Now I am a snacker, especially at the 10pm time frame.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than a tall glass of milk with some Oreo cookies ready for the dipping.  Who am I kidding, they need to be Oreo double stuffed.  But let’s face reality.  Once I start, I need at least 5-7 cookies to finish down the milk.  As you can imagine.  This is not good.  All of these BAKED goods are really not good for you.  As we know, they are typically baked with Eggs, and Milk which as we mentioned fall in the High Cholesterol Foods category.

As you know there are many other foods that are not good for you which I will cover in our next post.  But for now stay away from the Eggs, Milk and Cookies. These are just a few simple ways that I lower my cholesterol.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Gracie - November 14, 2013 at 11:46 pm

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High Cholesterol Diet

There was a good amount of effort that I put forth to lower my cholesterol.  The key is are you willing.  If you are serious about getting on the road to lower your cholesterol, then the first order of the day is to find out what foods you should be eating.  Yes – that means you should not only shun foods that have high levels of bad cholesterol like eggs (213 mg of cholesterol in just one egg yolk! Yikes!), but miracle of miracles, there are foods out there that will actually help to LOWER your bad cholesterol.

Here are some of the those foods:

Oat Bran, oatmeal and other high fiber foods are a staple in diets to reduce cholesterol.  Why?  The American Heart Association suggests that when regularly eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.  Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp.  All it takes is 5-10 grams of soluble fiber daily to reduce your total and LDL cholesterol levels.  For those on a budget, everyday fruits like apples and pears are an excellent source of soluble fiber – a medium apple contains 5 grams alone!  Add that to a breakfast of 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal for 6 grams, and you’ve already reached your daily quota.  Beware of the many commercial oat bran and wheat bran products (muffins, chips, waffles) which actually contain very little bran. They may also be high in sodium, total fat, saturated fat and trans fat. We recommend reading the labels on all packaged foods.

Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Aim for two servings of omega-3 rich fish a week.  Omega-3 fatty acids reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots.  I prefer salmon, but other fish high in omega-3′s are: mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines (my wife adds pureed sardines to pasta- delicious!), albacore tuna and halibut.  Of course, preparation is important as well-  baking or grilling are recommended.  If you have high triglyceride levels, ask your doctor about EPA and DHA (2 types of omega 3 oil) supplements.

Nuts.   Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and help to keep blood vessels healthy and reduce cholesterol.   According to the FDA, all it takes is a handful (about 1.5 ozs) a day to reap the full benefits – so be careful about portion size, as nuts are high in calories.   Don’t limit yourself to walnuts and almonds- you can also eat hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts and, pistachios.  The FDA has recognized the benefit of each of those varieties and their role in heart disease prevention.  An easy take-with-you snack, nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat- the good kind which helps to lower LDL cholesterol.  Raw nuts are the ones you are looking for, so don’t be fooled into buying the sugar coated or salted varieties.

Olive Oil.  Olive oil contains antioxidants that lowers LDL cholesterol (bad) but doesn’t touch HDL (good) cholesterol.  How much do you need to reap the full benefits?  The FDA recommends replacing unhealthy fats in your diet with 2 tbsp. of olive oil daily to get its heart healthy benefits.  This is easier than you think: replace calorie and fat laden dressing with olive oil and flavored vinegar, use it to saute vegetables or in a marinade when grilling.  You can up the benefits by using Extra Virgin Olive oil – this means the olive oil hasn’t been processed as much as the other varieties and so it contains more of those heart healthy antioxidants.  As with other heart healthy foods, moderation is key.  2 tablespoons of olive oil contain 240 calories, so please don’t eat more than the daily recommended allowance.

Red Wine and Grape Juice. The antioxidants (specifically, flavonoids) contained in red wine help to increase HDL cholesterol (good) by 20%!  Flavonoids also help to lower your risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), and help to lower blood pressure.  No more than one glass a day is recommended for women (or 2 for men).  If you aren’t a wine drinker that is OK, because grape juice is just as good!  Yep- just like red wine, Grape juice, especially the kind from dark purple Concord grapes is an excellent source of antioxidants.  To reiterate, these antioxidants help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol), reduce blood pressure, prevents damage to blood vessels in your heart, reduce the risk of blood clots, and your risk of heart disease in turn.  Some say that eating red or purple whole grapes can have some of the same benefits, and you’ll be getting fiber to boot!  Win-win!

Dark Chocolate.  Chocolate, you say?  Yes!  Chocolate!  Why does it work to help lower cholesterol?  It works because it has the same kind of antioxidants that are contained in red wine and grape juice- flavonoids. Two squares (about ¾ oz.) contain the same amount (400 mgs) of antioxidants as a glass of red wine. Look for dark chocolate that has at least 60% cocoa solids.  Steer clear of milk and white chocolate- dark chocolate is the one to buy.  But remember, just like nuts and olive oil, chocolate, even heart healthy dark chocolate is laden with calories, sugar and saturated fat.  There are better ways to get those antioxidants in too- like from veggies, whole grains and fruit- and those are low in fat, don’t contain caffeine and are high in fiber.  Everything in moderation, right?  These are just a few simple ways that I lower my cholesterol.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Gracie - May 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Categories: Lower My Cholesterol   Tags: , , , , ,

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