- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
When High Cholesterol is not High Cholesterol
One Woman's Story
My mother's doctor told her she needed cholesterol medicine. She's of the generation that just tends to do whatever the doctor says. I, being an ex-doctor, wanted more information before mom was exposed to the cost and side-effects of drugs.
It turns out that her total cholesterol was 210, above the "normal" level. But her good HDL cholesterol was 65. Something doctors don't always take into account is that if your HDL is at least 1/4 of the total (anything 53 and over for my mom), your overall cholesterol picture is healthy.
After some negotiation, mom, doc, and I all came to the conclusion that medications would be unnecessary. Of course, a heart healthy diet low in animal fats and trans fats while being high in fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is good for every one, regardless of cholesterol level.
You can raise your HDL by aerobic exercise (something that raises your pulse and makes you breathe faster) for at least 20 minutes three times per week and up to an hour per day. One serving of an alcoholic beverage per day for women, or two for men also raises HDL. However, due to alcohol's link to increased breast cancer and ease of abuse, most sources don't recommend starting drinking if you don't already.
Two heart healthy fish, which are also low in poisonous mercury found in some fish, are wild Alaskan salmon and catfish. While fresh salmon is expensive, canned salmon is not. Canned salmon is fine if you're not hypertensive or watching your salt intake.
Please check with your doctor and nutritionist about your individual situation. The author is not a licensed physician.