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Five Easy Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

Updated on April 23, 2007

Are you swimming in cholesterol?

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

Five Easy Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol: My Story

Being only 28 years old, it never crossed my mind that I would be at risk for heart disease. A week after a routine physical, I was startled by a message from my doctor's office.

"Donna, it's so-and-so from the doctor's office. Please give us a call back. It's about your cholesterol level."

When I called back, I had discovered that my HDL cholesterol-the bad cholesterol was double what it should be. They wanted to put me on Lipitor right away. She explained that this cholesterol was more based on my family history than diet and exercise, which would explain the need to go on medication. Although I was a little scared I was a bit relieved that it wasn't my fault. At any rate, she also informed me that eliminating certain foods would also help.

I did an American Heart Walk several years ago and along the walking path the organization had posted signs with startling facts about heart disease. Years later, I still remember the sign that said "Heart disease is the #1 killer of women..." I decided to take this phone call from my doctor as a serious warning and change some things in my life, and also be thankful that I go this warning so young. I still have time to change things!

Here are five things that I changed aside from taking the Lipitor:

1. Oatmeal Everyday- I cannot help but be tempted by the Quaker Oats commercials and their claim that eating a bowl of oatmeal every day can lower cholesterol. I never was a big breakfast person to begin with, so aside from this helping my health, I feel much better going into work each day. My old favorite was Maple Brown Sugar so I've been eating that. However, I recently bought a box of Quaker's Nutrition for Women line in Vanilla Cinnamon and let me tell you... it is fantastic! I love it. I can't believe that eating something so tasty will also help me out.

2. Buttery Spread, Not Butter- One thing I cannot cook without is butter. I love butter. Perhaps this is part of my problem! I'll throw a whole stick in a pot of veggies or mashed potatoes. I love grilled cheese. And our big weekend brunches I like to cook-I don't even want to go there. But I will-butter to cook the eggs, butter to cook the hash browns and butter on our toast. I am a big Land-O-Lakes fan. So, on a whim, I bought a tub of their buttery spread. And you know what? It really does taste the same. I can't really tell the difference. I think for baking or my mashed potatoes I will stick to butter, but for every day use I will use the margarine.

3. Black Coffee- This has been the absolute hardest thing for me to do. And, I am still working on weaning off the half and half. However, it dawned on me that cream has 10mg of cholesterol. And, I drink it all day and night. I thought that be trying my coffee black it would reduce my intake of cholesterol significantly. Drinking a better brew or a flavored coffee seems to help it go down better. But, my two bosses take it black and so does my grandmother. If they can handle it, so can I.

4. Whole Wheat and other grainy breads- I take sandwiches to work or make toast in the morning. I figured that the oatmeal does such a fine job, that whole grains must too. I do like the taste of wheat bread better, but I admit that I am a bargain shopper and white bread is always on sale. So, I have been spending a little more on my bread to reap the benefits of what they offer. Most brands have the "heart healthy" stamp right on them!

5. No fast food or fried bar munchies- in our fast-paced society, this is a hard one to do. But I know that a lot of my cholesterol comes from eating deep fried foods. I find it hard to deny myself these foods. I mean, the bar across the street from our home has a Friday fish fry. Totally greasy. I've not been getting that lately. If I do fast food, I skip the fries and try to get the grilled sandwiches or a salad. If I do Wendy's, I will just get the chili, which I know has cholesterol in the mean, but there is no value meal for it, so it's easy to not get the fries and then still feel full.

My doctor wants me to go for a six-month check up. But, I had to see him for an unrelated matter three weeks after the cholesterol phone call. If course they weighed me, and I lost six pounds. I will be honest. I haven't exercised. So, this strictly comes from the small changes to my diet. I wasn't trying to lose weight. I could lose some weight, but I am not obese or considered overweight I suppose-but this wasa great feeling.

If I keep up with these changes, do some more research about other things (these I thought of on my own) to help lower it, keep up with the medication and also exercise I think I can really erase my risk of heart disease and get my cholesterol where it should be!


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