Monday, March 8, 2010

30 Points!

Last week, I fasted overnight and had my cholesterol re-checked. It had been 3 months since the 2-5-0 verdict and I've since made some dietary and supplement changes. I've been anxious to see what, if anything, has changed.

The first words out of my doctor's mouth, when she called late Friday afternoon, were: "Your cholesterol dropped 30 points!! Excellent work!"

While the ratios have remained basically the same, the overall drop is very encouraging. So what have I been doing? A lot of things, none of which I can pinpoint the results directly to.

For starters, I take "Cholest-Off" each day. My dad says that the stuff reduced his overall cholesterol by 50 points. It is widely available at Rite Aid, Target or Costco.

I also bought the best derivative of Coenzyme Q10 that I could find. It is crazy expensive but the woman in Elliott's (who I trust implicitly) says that Co-Q10 is only effective in its purest form.

Fish oil has become my staple supplement. I take five fish oil pills each day; sometimes more if my body is feeling particularly inflammatory and vulnerable to illness. I buy the triple strength fish oil from Rite Aid.

As far as my diet goes, I eliminated butter, eggs and cheese. Sometimes, I'll have a little goat cheese or parmesan but I try and steer clear of almost all cheeses. I still use Smart Balance although I've loosened the household restrictions on butter and regularly feed it to Ben.

I eat nuts by the pound. Seriously. Several ounces a day, especially almonds. I can't say that this is a great strategy for weight loss but there is lots of proven evidence showing that nuts play a big role in lowering cholesterol. I think my mom is amazed by the packages of nuts that come through the kitchen each week. I've even persuaded Ben to start eating cashews - heavily salted, of course!

Wild salmon is on the menu two times each week. That, with the all the fish oil I take, has a great effect on mood and nerves, as well as the much-needed benefit of dropping cholesterol (all the good oil makes the arteries nice and slippery!). I also eat oatmeal several times a week with ground flax - both are superstars at reducing overall cholesterol.

I've mostly cut out all packaged foods (including crackers, cookies and pretzels) which I think harbor quite a lot of "hidden" and not-so-stellar fats. (But I have been known to get into Ben's coveted stash of sesame sticks!) I avoid desserts completely except for squares of dark, dark chocolate and big scoops of organic vanilla yogurt (still high in sugar but a decent substitute for heavy desserts).

Lastly, I aim for a minimum of eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I buy my produce from the farmer's market each week and then fill in around the edges with frozen blueberries, frozen mango, bananas and vegetable based soups. It's a lot of work to eat this way, but I've been doing it for so long that it's natural for me to plan meals around a high minimum of produce.

All in all, I'm super happy with the results of my latest cholesterol check and plan to keep things as they are, in terms of my supplements and my diet. The one thing I'd like to reduce is the Co-Q10 as it's just so darn expensive and its role in cholesterol reduction is somewhat questionable in the big picture.

My next check is in 6 months. I'll keep you posted...