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Do You Need a Cholesterol Lowering Diet Plan or Program?

Updated on May 31, 2015

Recommended Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol Type
Level
Comments
Total Cholesterol
Below 5.2 mmol/L
Desireable
LDL Cholesterol (bad)
2.6-3.3 mmol/L
Optimal
HDL Cholesteral (good)
Above 1.5 mmol/L
Best

What is a healthy cholesterol level?

I have been living in France for over a year now and have managed to get registered with the national health service here, reported to be one of, if not the, best health services in the world.

I had to get set up fairly quickly because I do have a couple of ongoing conditions I need to take care of which requires regular blood tests and monitoring of my blood conditions.

It was no real surprise to me that on a visit to the doctors in January it was suggested that I should have a few extra tests to see what condition I was in, particularly as I have also turned 51 years old recently. I thought I was looking pretty good personally but I guess in the eye of the beholder and all that, my doctor obviously didn't agree.

So off I went and got tested for amongst other things my cholesterol level. That's where I hit a bit of a problem because apparently there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol and my good cholesterol (HDL) was a tad on the low side coming in at a level of 1.19mmol/L which is apparently not so good as the recommended level for good health is actually best at 1.5mmol/L or higher. Now add to that my bad cholesterol (LDL) was sitting at 4.69 mmol/l when it should actually be in the range of 2.6-3.3 mmol/L for a healthy individual and my total cholesterol level was 6.81mmol/L when it really should be no more than 5.2mmol/L, then you can see I had a bit of work to do.

The recommendation I got was that I should up my exercise level and change my diet to cut out or at least reduce the amount of saturated fat I was consuming. All I did in truth was to stop eating so much cheese and at the same time we had just rescued a dog so getting more exercise was a given as we had started to go out each day to walk man's best friend and now I knew why he was my best friend, typically we would go for about an hour a day.

So 6 months later and I was back at the laboratory having a 2nd round of extra blood tests, this time the results were (HDL)1.16, (LDL)3.99 and (Total) 5.86 respectively, which overall was an improvement but still not good enough. The doctors recommendation this time was that I continue to eat less of the food that can increase bad cholesterol levels and up my exercise so that I actually start to lose weight.

So far there has been no mention of drugs to control the condition and to be honest, if there was I would probably resist that option for the moment and you can see the reasons why below.

To make things a little easier to follow you can refer to the table above for an idea of what the acceptable cholesterol levels are for the 3 measurements taken, remembering of course this is for healthy people and you should always refer to your doctor to establish where you need to be exactly.

Symptoms of a stroke

Stroke Symptoms
Stroke Symptoms

Recognising when someone has had a stroke

A bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)
(i.e. It is sunny out today.)

R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue
Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue.. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke

Side effects of Statins

First and foremost what I need to say is that for the majority of people, taking Statins to control cholesterol levels is a widely accepted and safe method of treatment. But as for all drugs there is a possibility of side effects, of course the first place to find out what the potential side affects of statins are is on the data sheet that comes with the drugs.

What got me thinking however was when I watched a recent television program on UK TV where they were doing a report on cholesterol and interviewed several people who had suffered from mainly muscular problems which they were pretty convinced was due to taking Statins.

The sorts of symptoms they reported were loss of strength in arms and legs, numbness, stiffness of limbs, joint pains and abdomen pains. Clearly for these people finding an alternative means for dealing with their cholesterol problems would be a priority.

One should not forget that where Statins are taken and used with little or no side effects they are a very effective way of reducing the risk of reducing cardiovascular disease and one thing is for certain if you have cholesterol problems they cannot be ignored.

Another benefit of using Statins is that the impact on lifestyle diet and exercise regimes is minimal, very little has to change, you simply take the drugs and carry on much as before. This was in fact the recommendation to me from one or two associates that were in a similar situation of having a cholesterol problem and who were successfully taking Statins to manage their condition.

So why have I resisted the temptation to take the easy option, well the reasons are two fold really. First of all I have not been offered them under the French regime I now reside in and secondly I have had little option in the past but to take some drugs that had pretty serious side effects for other conditions and quite frankly I am in no hurry to take any more drugs that may or may not cause me problems.

So where does that leave me, in a nutshell seeking alternative options.

How to lower your cholesterol naturally

Clearly taking Statins as a first option to address my cholesterol problem has not entered the head of my doctor and I for one am not about to put the suggestion there, even if I did know the French for Statins.

No, what I am being told is modify my diet slightly, take more exercise and lose weight.

These are actually lifestyle changes but if you think about it, they are lifestyle changes that should they work on the cholesterol problem, and there is already evidence to prove they do, have the added benefits of making me fitter, healthier and slimmer. All in all not a bad set of objectives, even for an old gent past his prime, but lets leave my brother out of this.

So there has to be a plan somewhere for lowering cholesterol naturally, there are plans for just about everything else. Well actually there is and its back to the UK TV program for the source, they actually mentioned a diet which is called the 'Portfolio eating plan' which in essence is a diet for seriously reducing the amount of saturated fats you eat. You can find out a lot more about the portfolio eating plan by clicking on the link.

In reading up about the the eating plan it was pointed out that this is not an option for anyone who has already had a heart attack or a stroke.

So a word of caution, each individual is different and each individual should consult their doctor before making any changes in medication already prescribed or embarking on a new program of treatment or an exercise regime, particularly if you suspect you have any kind of health problems or are not used to taking regular exercise. I wouldn't want to cause anyone unnecessary harm as what I am saying here is my opinion and that is very much a layman's opinion albeit based on my own experience.


Foods that lower cholesterol

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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Lots of good useful information on this hub. You did a great job in explaing.

    • profile image

      LadyE Redgage 7 years ago

      A lot of useful info here. Even if one doesn't suffer from Cholesterol problems, it's good to have knowledge of it.

      Cheers.

    • couponalbum profile image

      couponalbum 7 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

      Great hub! Very helpful information. Liked your other hubs too. Joining your fanclub and would like to invite you to join mine..

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Great Hub. I think whether we have Cholestoral problems or not, we should all take the advice in your Hub. Wishing you good health. Regards.

    • BrianS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Sorry for my slow response to all your positive comments, good to see the children are keeping you active Amanda.Glad the list of foods to eat is going to come in handy and yes I think it is important to understand that there are both good and bad cholesterol, be a shame to get the wrong one down :-)

    • pjdscott profile image

      pjdscott 7 years ago from Durham, UK

      I thought your explanation of good and bad cholesterol was very clear and informative. I'm hoping to avoid taking Statins, and the information on them was very interesting.

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      This is a very helpful information. Thank you for sharing this. More power.

    • wearing well profile image

      Deborah Waring 7 years ago from Lancashire U.K.

      Great article Brian.I'm often asked about how to lower cholesterol.Thanks for sharing I will be passing on the you tube link to family and friends.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      Good information. I will be 51 this year, and my good cholesterol is GREAT but my total cholesterol is too high. In otherwords, I get plenty of exercise but...I'm cutting back on fat (cheese, just as you said) but I can't really eliminate it. I've heard that eating some things can help a lot too. Oatmeal is one thing they mention so I'm adding that to my diet. I'll be rechecked in 6 months. Heredity does play it's role. Some folks can sit all day and eat anything, but others of us may need more...time will tell.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      Hi Brian, I just got round to reading this after a busy half term week, where we were out with the children every day. It's amazing how just a few days of being more active can make you feel so much better, and reading this is a timely reminder that I shouldn't confine long country walks etc. to the holidays. Also, cheese is one of my biggest downfalls. Good info!

    • BrianS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Hi Quicksand, yes garlic and onions are both good for sorting out cholesterol problems. I love both and use them a lot in our meals.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 7 years ago

      We use a lot of garlic in our food. I noticed the video also recommends garlic.

    • BrianS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Lots of people get high cholesterol so I think if it is an option for you that works, eating the right food, taking exercise and losing weight cannot be a bad approach. Intuitively you have to think those are good things to do, looks like alekhouse may already have benefited from that approach and from what I have done I have seen an improvement, just need to make sure your doctor agrees. Glad the information was helpful to your husband as well Kim, but sausage and eggs do taste good though, don't they?

    • profile image

      Kim Garcia 7 years ago

      Hey Brian! Great Hub!! My husband just got tested, his cholesterol level was higher than normal this time......your Hub has been a very informative read for him. He's now eating Papaya and Kiwi every morning. Less eggs and sausage.

      Thanks!! Good tips. Blessings, ~K

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Good hub, Brian, with tons of good information. I don't have a cholesterol problem. I attribute it too healthy diet, exercise, and good genes. I'm really lucky, at my age.

    • BrianS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Good to hear drcrischasse, I think a quite a few people would benefit by following that example, especially as you get a little older. Prevention is better than cure as they say.

    • drcrischasse profile image

      drcrischasse 7 years ago from NH/Foxboro

      Great advice. I for one watch my health closely. I try to eat right and I exercise everyday.