I have a friend whose cholesterol was through the roof. Her body is genetically predisposed to making cholesterol so, six months ago, when her blood test revealed elevated LDLs (bad cholesterol), low HDLs (good cholesterol) and high triglycerides, her doctor immediately put her on aggressive drug therapy – without even taking a diet history.
Of course, I was completely appalled by this approach, since I knew she needed to lose weight, start exercising and begin eating more fiber.
After a phone call with her physician, he agreed with me to try diet intervention without drugs for six months, and if there wasn’t any sign of significant improvement, she would go back on drug therapy.
Can you guess what happened? In six months, my friend lost 36 pounds; she’s lowered her risk of heart disease by 30%; she’s exercising three times a week, and her diet has improved. Her total cholesterol is less than 200 and her other blood lipid values are in the “normal” range.
Well, well, well …
Obviously, a pill is a quick fix, and while her drug Rx might have lowered her cholesterol, it certainly wouldn’t have helped her ward off cancer, obesity, diabetes or whipped her into shape.
To me, the word “diet” really is a four-letter word; we need to approach healthy eating as a behavioral change and one that’s a life-long effort. Granted, that’s not easy to do – until you start achieving results. Just speak with my friend. Her entire outlook about herself and her future has improved. She’s happier, healthier and will never look back…
So, in the spirit of National Cholesterol Education Month, I encourage you to get your cholesterol checked, and start, little by little, applying the NCEP Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes dietary guidelines below.
Remember, small changes can yield life-saving results.
|Diet Modification||% LDL Reduction|
|Add 5-10 grams/day of soluble fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as oatmeal||3-5%|
|Reduce dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg/day||3-5%|
|Lose 10 pounds (if overweight)||5-8%|
|Add 2 grams plant sterol/day||5-15%|
|Reduce saturated fat to less than 7%
Know Your Numbers
|HDL (good)||>50 mg/dl|