Friday, February 6, 2009

Fighting Cholesterol

I went to the doctor recently for a cholesterol test, only to have him verify what I already knew - I have high cholesterol (total in the 200's) and am a risk candidate for heart disease one day if my life course remains unchanged. It wasn't a surprise for me b/c I have a family history of heart disease. In fact, I was getting this test rather early (mid 30's) in anticipation of what the results may be - in hopes of being able to turn it around while I am still semi-young.

Given my family history and the likelihood of having a high result, my physician recommended I get my blood test through the Berkeley Heart Lab. I am definitely impressed with the results - which consisted of a 4 page analysis complete with color codes and charts (I'm a sucker for stats!). I had a "regular" cholesterol test in the past and just got the numbers everyone has come to expect, but the heart lab results take it a step further by also analyzing the proteins in your blood - genetic proteins which are known to contribute to heart disease. The heart lab test also includes optional meetings with a nutritionist and a fitness program you can join. (I am planning to participate but have not initiated that yet. Will update when I do.)

Before immediately considering (life long) prescription medication to control my cholesterol, my physician and I discussed trying first to control it with diet and exercise. For exercise, you now what you need to do and you don't need me to tell you - but I did want to share some things I did with my diet that I hope help.

First, I stopped eating eggs for breakfast and I replaced it with oatmeal everyday. I think eggs are ok, but if you have high cholesterol you should probably consider cutting back on them. The fiber in oatmeal is very good for helping control cholesterol apparently. I also added some spices, herbs, and vitamin supplements to my daily diet. Here's a break down of my daily breakfast routine:
  1. Oatmeal
  2. Add cinnamon to oatmeal
  3. Add flax seed to oatmeal
  4. Multi-vitamin
  5. Fish Oil pill
  6. Vitamin E pill
  7. Folic Acid pill
  8. Aspirin pill (81mg)
  9. Sm. Orange Juice (or other juice)
  10. Coffee (not helpful, but have only ONE cup a day)
I've read that green tea, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and flax seed can help lower cholesterol - but that's not really proven. I am a believer in homeopathic approaches, and adding these things to one's diet is hardly harmful so I am incorporating them where I can. Anything "antioxidant" is probably helpful too (ie: pomegranate juice) Granted, also, the only things my physician actually recommended was the oatmeal, the aspirin, and the fish oil - but I don't think the other things I added can hurt. I'm going for a re-test in 3 months, and we'll see how this routine (in addition to more exercise and other diet changes) changes my cholesterol.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, so don't take my advice unless you talk to your physician.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I could have written this. I have a family history of heart disease as well and my change in breakfast routine is almost identical right down to the minute.