Cholesterol Wake Up CallPosted: June 21, 2011
Yesterday, I popped online to check the wellness screening results from when I last donated blood.
After reviewing my blood type and future eligibility information, I clicked over to the cholesterol tab…and my jaw nearly hit the floor.
My cholesterol was 275?
How was that possible? How can a vegetarian have such high cholesterol? I don’t eat butter and rarely eat cheese or eggs, I get plenty of fiber and I exercise fairly regularly – so where’s the problem? How on earth is my cholesterol 75 full points higher than it should be?
While high cholesterol can be genetic, I am looking to naturally reduce my count through nutrition before turning to a prescription.
What I’m Going to do about my High Cholesterol
Because of my new piercing, I can’t donate blood again until six months to a year have passed. I do, however, plan to schedule a cholesterol screening within two months. Since cholesterol levels can be significantly lowered within six weeks, waiting eight weeks from my high cholesterol discovery should give my body adequate time to respond to the changes I plan to implement.
- Reduce my consumption of animal products. Shortly after becoming vegetarian, I decided to try a vegan diet. I saw a marked difference in how I felt, but although I knew I felt better with fewer animal foods in my system, I reintroduced cheese and eggs into my diet because I felt like I was missing out on things I desperately wanted to eat. For the next eight weeks, I’d like to reduce my dairy and egg consumption to a maximum of one serving a day.
- Get more omega-3’s. These can help increase the LDL’s (good fats) and for vegetarians, omega-3’s can be found in flax seeds and walnuts. While I typically place flax seeds in my smoothies, I’ll be bumping up the quantity to at least 2 daily servings, or, if necessary, investing in an omega-3 supplement.
- Increase my fiber. It seems like a no-brainer – especially considering my current whole foods-based diet, but I plan to strive for more soluble and insoluble fiber in the form of oatmeal, beans, millet, wheatberries, etc…rather than the more processed grains like toast, tortillas and pasta. That’s not to say I won’t enjoy them – they just won’t be primary components of my diet.
- Skip the afternoon snack. You know the drill – 2 pm rolls around, quarters magically appear in your hand, you wind up with butterfingers or Sunchips from the vending machine. That’s gotta stop. If necessary, I’ll bring unprocessed snacks from home to ward off the 2 p.m. munchies: apples, which are high in pectin, a cholesterol-reducing compound, or carrots, for example.
- Hit the gym 5 times a week. This one may be the hardest for me. I love the gym and I love exercising – don’t get me wrong…but making it consistent has been a major struggle for the last several months. I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week, which is absolutely better than nothing – but in the interest of dropping my cholesterol, I’ll have to increase the frequency of my workouts.
In light of the new changes, I made a breakfast that included plenty of fiber (at least two grams of insoluble fiber), omega-3s, fruit and a small serving of healthy fats.
As I cooked 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, I dropped into the blender:
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 1/2 scoop chocolate soy protein powder
It came out far more voluminous than I’d expected! I’d planned to drizzle the topping over the oats…but instead, I drowned the oats in the smoothie!
Topped the whole shebang with some berries, cinnamon and flax seed for a tasty cholesterol-lowering breakfast!
I’m hoping to see a drop of at least 15 to 20 points in my cholesterol by the time of my next test. Let’s see how this goes!
Have you ever been blindsided by the results of a medical test?
How’s your cholesterol? Ever had to lower it? When was the last time you got it checked?