The Scoop on High Cholesterol

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What’s up guys! Sorry that I haven’t posted in a long time, it’s midterm season and ya girl has been all tied up. This is a health post–so if you love your body & want to learn something helpful, then read on…

About two weeks ago, I visited my general practitioner for an annual exam. Since this was my first time seeing this new doctor, she thought it would be wise to run basically every blood test in the book. Although I’m not much a fan of needles & blood, I’m not one to argue with taking a precautionary approach toward health. For that reason, I happily obliged.

For the most part, my results came back excellent–everything I normally worry about (glucose, white blood cell count, platelets, etc.) was perfectly in the normal range. However there were two things to note:

1. Vitamin D levels were low–this one was obvious. Virtually everyone that I know has ‘low’ levels of vitamin D. This one is easily fixed with a daily supplement & additional sun exposure (with sunscreen!). Nothing to worry about.

2. Borderline cholesterol. Doc say what???? This was the first time I’ve ever tested high for cholesterol. Granted, it wasn’t VERY high, but it was still noticeably ‘up there’. Good total cholesterol should stay under 200. Borderline total cholesterol is between 200-239, and high cholesterol is 240 or higher.  Mine was at 219. Upon receiving this news, I immediately thought back to my recent diet. Let’s see, I had been abstaining from eating  chocolate for months, and as a result, have been eating a LOT less sugary desserts. I’m also relatively careful about limiting my fast food intake. I exercise 2-3 days per week. Peculiar.

Regardless–this was a bit of a wake up call for me (along with the fact that I weighed in at 150 lbs–a record high for me). The last time I weighed 150 lbs was when I returned home from studying abroad in Europe 4 years ago, after eating 2 gelatos per day in Italy and 3 croissants per day in France. At that time, I deserved every pound of weight that I gained, and I took it in stride. This time was different…I didn’t feel it was deserved. Perhaps my metabolism has slowed in the last four years. Or perhaps my body’s composition is different–more muscle, less fat this time.

I am 5’5″, and my normal healthy weight is about 140-142 lbs. When I was clinically depressed, I got down to 132 or so and I wasn’t a huge fan of the way that I looked. I lost a lot of my booty and some of my hips. I had lost some fat, but also a lot of muscle. I didn’t look as fit/healthy, and I definitely was not happy. Anyways, after learning that I was again at my high weight, I realized that perhaps I could still be making better eating choices. My cholesterol was borderline, and my weight was about 8-10 lbs over my body’s ideal.

QUICK ASIDE–I absolutely love my body. I am a dense young woman, with wide child-bearing hips, a big butt, and thick legs. My sister is my same height and weighs 110 lbs (literally 40 lbs less than me), and it doesn’t bother me for one second. We have completely different body types, and one isn’t any better than the other. They are just different, and beautiful in their own ways! So learning that I weighed 150 lbs didn’t make me feel less beautiful, or even ‘fat’. I just knew that my body operates and looks better at 140-142 lbs.

At this point, I was now intrinsically motivated to be healthy, and treat my body in the way that it deserves to be treated. I realized that it was time for me to add a day of exercise to my week, and start to be more health conscious with my eating habits.

The good thing about having high cholesterol is that it is REVERSIBLE! It is totally within your control.

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Here are the tips on lowering your cholesterol (bad cholesterol= LDL) and getting healthy!

1. Eat Oats–I’m talking steel cut oatmeal or even oat-based cereals like cheerios. Your body needs high sources of fiber at this time, and this is one way to get it. Rotate your breakfasts for variety and add fruit, always!

2. Whole Grains–I’ve been getting my whole grains in a few different ways. Lately I’m obsessed with Clif Kid Organic Z bars–in the flavor Iced Oatmeal Cookie. These little snack bars have 12g of whole grain and are a good source of fiber. Not to mention they are super delicious! Sometimes for breakfast I’ll eat 2 slices of Orowheat Whole Grain Double Fiber bread, with peanut butter & organic strawberry jelly (sometimes add banana slices). Two slices provide 48% of the daily value of fiber, and is also an excellent source of vitamin D. I also eat Kashi Vanilla Shredded Whole Wheat Biscuits cereal for breakfast. There are 48g of whole grains per serving and 6g of fiber. Win.

3. Beans–I’ve been making homemade hummus using garbonzo beans! Also can make taco salads with black beans!

How to Make One-Serving of Hummus:

1/3 avocado

1/2 can garbonzo beans

1/2 lemon squeezed

salt & pepper

garlic clove

Tablespoon of Olive Oil

4. Nuts–Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, up to 5%. I like cashews.

5. Vegetable Oils–no butter or lard! Swap out regular butter on toast for nut butter! Don’t cook with butter either. I think this is huge! Olive oil is a great replacement.

6. Healthy Fats–Omega-3s found in fish like salmon and also avocado!

7. Chocolatedark chocolate!

8. Green Tea

9. Berries–blueberries, raspberries,  blackberries, strawberries! Throw them in cereals, salads, or eat them alone.

10. Increased Exercise!

If you discover you have high cholesterol, don’t panic! You can bring it down yourself with some healthy new habits that are better for you in general! I hope this post is some motivation to begin treating your body better today!

xx allie