Saturday, March 17, 2012

Q&A: Tips to lower cholesterol

Q.            I recently had blood work done for my cholesterol (first time).  My research tells me my results are in the high category, but my Dr. doesn't seem to acknowledge this.
My LDL was 141, total cholesterol was 219, HDL was 55 and triglycerides were 117.  The voicemail from my Dr.’s office was  "continue your healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise and be tested again in a year." She doesn't even know what my diet and exercise consist of.  Yes, I'm looking for a new doctor.
I am 5'4" and weigh 155 lbs.  I know I am overweight some and am currently on the Weight Watchers program (loving it).  I do have my ups and downs as all people do when trying to lose weight, but I'm trying to concentrate more on eating healthy foods and increasing my exercise.   I am 59, and up until last year was an avid exerciser.  I always did lots of walking and took daily exercise classes including weight lifting and cardio.
After giving you some background on myself my questions are: What do you think of my lab numbers, and what resources are available for me to learn more about lowering my cholesterol.  D.S. Grand Rapids

A.            Don’t give up on your doctor yet! The only number that is a little up is the LDL “bad” cholesterol. You cannot just look at the numbers, because factors such as family history of heart disease are important.  You weren’t even trying to work on your cholesterol, so chances are if you pay a little more attention to your food choices, you can reduce the LDL cholesterol.
            Here are the food factors that can help cholesterol.
  •             Eat less saturated fat (found readily in cheese, fattier cuts of meat, hot dogs and bologna, etc.)  With your dieting, I bet you are not eating excessive amounts of these because of the calories.
  •             Add more soluble fiber. This is found in fruit, vegetables, oats, barley, beans, peas and lentils, soybeans, among other things. If you are following Weight Watcher’s plan you are getting at least three servings of both fruit and vegetables daily. Maybe you need to include bean or pea soup more often as a meal.
  •             Add good fats daily. These include a small handful of nuts, ground flaxseed (sprinkled on your oatmeal), olive and canola oil, avocadoes, etc. Of course, you would want to use these moderately to keep your calories in line.
  •             You also want to get back to physical activity, as that is going to help you maintain or increase your HDL cholesterol level (a good thing).

            If you want healthy recipe ideas besides what you are getting from Weight Watcher’s, I would recommend any recent cookbook from the American Heart Association as a start; their recipes will give you nutrition info so you can figure your Weight Watcher points, too.

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