Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Improving my cholesterol numbers

I just received this comment from Brian ... figured I'd answer it in a new post.
In another post you mention that you've worked on your hdl. What did you do to improve that? I've lost 20 pounds, stopped eating red meat and bad-fat foods and my cholesterol #'s have stayed the same! Ug. ~Brian
Yep, I've raised my GOOD cholesterol and lowered my BAD cholesterol. I actually haven't done anything specific to tweak my cholesterol numbers, per sa, but I think the stuff I've been doing with my diet and exercise is the result of better readings. Here's some background: Total Cholesterol Before surgery: 170 Last week: 129 Lowered by 41 points LDL Cholesterol (the bad stuff) Before surgery: 104 As of May: 61 Lowered by 43 points HDL Cholesterol (the good stuff) -- ideal is over 50 Before surgery: 47 As of April (before Crim): 37 Last week: 50 Notice that before my surgery my good cholesterol wasn't all that far off the target number of 50 or higher. But with the rapid weight loss and lack of exercise early after surgery it dropped down to 37 at my 6-month check up. But with added exercise with Crim training, my good numbers are now up to 50. Still working to get it up even higher though. What'd I do?
  • I'm eating according to my post-op diet plan. This includes a balanced diet of protein (40%), carbs (40%) and good fats (20%). I eat a lot of fruits and veggies - at least 5 -7 servings per day. The protein I eat is very lean and healthy.
  • I'm exercising my butt off!
  • I'm losing weight.
  • I'm cutting out bad fats and focusing on good fats (including taking an Omega 3 tablet twice a day)
  • I avoid, like the plague, any food that has an ingredient listed: "partially hydrogenated anything." That's the trans fats we need to avoid.
  • I'm getting in good quality fiber (25-30g/day)

For an article from the experts on how to raise your HDL levels, here's one that might help.

So really I'm not doing anything earth shattering to get my readings in good shape. My total cholesterol already wasn't all that bad before my surgery, so I didn't have too far to go. Plus, the basic plan of eating better and exercising more and getting rid of unhealthy habits seems to be what is recommended by the medical community to improve your cholesterol.

There's a great chart here on this website that explains the differences in the types of fats we eat (saturated, trans, monounsaturated, etc.) ... examples of the types of foods that contain those fats and what effect they have on our cholesterol. Very interesting.

I'm not sure that my answer was all that brilliant or magical, Brian. But I hope this points you in the right direction for getting your cholesterol numbers in line.


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