Friday, February 11, 2011

Cholesterol

 The structure of CholesterolImage via Wikipedia

I have a physical every single year and my Doctor does blood work for just about everything under the sun. He even says he looks for steroids because supplements are not regulated, and there have been cases where people are buying products that are contaminated...

Right, or he thinks I am taking them! ha!

He checks my cholesterol as high cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Thyroid disease also runs in my family, so I am careful about having that monitored annually also. He was interested in Vitamin D deficiency this time because I wear sunscreen everyday after having skin cancer....


He is also very interested in my diet, my exercise, everything. He likes to say that I am a very unique specimen, I take that as a compliment.

I got a call form my Doctor's nurse the other day and she was dumbfounded. She said my numbers get better every year!

She said my total cholesterol is 118 and my HDL is 52, now that is something to celebrate!

Just what does the HDL do?  HDL cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol, appears to scour the walls of blood vessels, cleaning out excess cholesterol. It then carries that excess cholesterol -- which otherwise might have been used to make the "plaques" that cause coronary artery disease -- back to the liver for processing. So when they measure a person's HDL cholesterol level, they seem to be measuring how vigorously his or her blood vessels are being "scrubbed" free of cholesterol.

So what do I do that ensure my cholesterol level is so low?

It's mainly my diet.

I eat oatmeal, oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

I eat fish and take lots of fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) Eating fatty fish can be heart-healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots.
A typical fish oil softgel; not actual sizeImage via Wikipedia
I eat nuts, mainly natural peanut butter. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy.

I cook with olive oil. Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol but leave your "good" (HDL) cholesterol untouched.
 
I avoid saturated fats and trans fats. I eat lean poultry, beef and avoid cheese and dairy.

I exercise every single day and include aerobic activity regularly. I do not smoke, I don't drink much, although studies seem to indicate that one or two glasses of alcohol a day (and NO more) may help to increase HDL levels, but do nothing for lowering LDL.

The problem with using alcohol as a method of increasing HDL, is that most people just don't stop with two drinks, plus, you absolutely cannot be successful on a fat losing diet if you are drinking, it just won't work.

I enjoy my diet, it's a diet for life.

Long Live Kristy!



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