Got High Cholesterol? So Do I

I Have High Cholesterol

January 16, 2018   49 Comments

Before Christmas I took a blood test. It revealed that I had high cholesterol and not the good kind.

My doctor asked me to go see a registered dietitian nutritionist for a consultation on my diet. To say that I was embarrassed, given that I write this blog is an understatement. I was mortified!! But, I know that I don’t know it all and I decided to go see her after Christmas.

Notice how I did not go before the holidays.

My LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins) number is too high. When your LDL level is high, it can start to form a plaque-like substance on the walls of your cardiovascular system, blocking the natural flow of blood and leaving you at severe risk for heart attack and stroke. My family has a history of heart disease so I knew it was important to take this number seriously.

I was not looking forward to the visit (kinda like going to the dentist) but I knew I had to listen to what she had to say. My doctor threatened to put me on a statin (drug) if I couldn’t control my LDL with diet and I don’t want to take a drug if I can help it.

The RDN was very kind and asked me what I ate the day before. That day had included a visit to an Indian buffet where I ate a ton of rich food.

You see, I do eat a healthy diet and I exercise (currently training for a triathlon) but I also enjoy gourmet food and eating out. My diet includes butter, whole milk, gourmet cheeses, artisan bread, pizza and beer as well as kale salads, beans, and roasted vegetables. I eat dessert every once in a while and put butter on my popcorn. I am far from a saint when it comes to my diet.

I don't eat junk food but I do eat foods that are rich in saturated fat. oh dear.

What does she want me to do? For THREE weeks, I have quite a challenge.

  1. Eat all whole grains
  2. No added sugar
  3. Lean meat and protein and more beans
  4. Low fat dairy – only 1 ounce of cheese per day
  5. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  6. Eat healthy fats (olive oil, fish, avocadoes, nuts)
  7. Four ounces of red wine per day

At least she didn't limit my coffee intake. She can take my coffee from my cold, dead hands.

But it does mean no pizza (white bread and cheese) or beer – and no pizza and beer! Beer is high in carbohydrates which convert into sugar – and is bad for cholesterol levels. Argh!!

The first thing I did when I came home was announce that I was taking the beer out of the fridge. I asked my partner how many he wanted to keep in the fridge as I started to pull out the cans. He said, “Oh, if you aren’t going to drink it, neither will I.” Wasn’t that sweet?

Then I reviewed my bread options. I usually eat one slice of Dave’s Killer Bread in the morning with either butter, peanut butter, or avocado. Guess what? Dave’s bread has added sugar!! Nooooooooooo.

I had not noticed “organic molasses” on the fine print of the ingredients list. Dave’s bread is whole wheat, organic, and full of seeds but it has added sugar. Bummer.

I have decided to share my challenge with all of you because I know that there are others who are struggling with the same thing. The funny thing is that this diet looks a lot like the one Weight Watchers is promoting with Freestyle. I don’t NEED to lose weight but that 10 pounds that hangs on would be nice to take off.

The RDN credited my high cholesterol to menopause (wasn’t that nice?) and said as we get older we need to do a better job with our diet.

Since I have high cholesterol, I want to do a better job with my diet. Wish me luck! I want to be here for my kids and grandkids so I am going to give it a shot for three weeks.

After the three weeks, we'll assess how I did and talk further.


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49 Comments:

The good news regarding pizza (and a lot of other things) is that you can still have a really good pizza on an oil free, whole grain crust with sauce, plenty of vegetables and one of the fat free vegan cheeses (Check out Kite Hill). The Engine 2 line also has some great suggestions for bread-type products. I know it's not the same thing as the pizza that we grew up on but I've come to like it better.

on January 16, 2018

Good Luck Lisa,
You can do It! Super proud of your honesty. You help so many people with all that you share on this site.
Much Love Girl! You got this!!!

on January 16, 2018

hmmmmm, I'm on my way to the doctor this morning and I fear the results of the blood work I had done yesterday. I retired a year ago and being stuck at home with no car you can imagine what I do a lot. eat, very little exercise (especially with the cold) and sit around on my computer and watching tv. i'm sure I will be here tomorrow looking for help, LOL.

on January 16, 2018

Best of luck to you. I also have high cholesterol and have been on medication for years. Mine is genetic as my good cholesterol is high and my bad is low but I still have to watch. I need to lose weight and am on the new WW plan and love it. Good luck to you and your challenge and I am hoping my numbers come down also.

on January 16, 2018

Thank you for sharing. I am going through the exact same situation. I joined Weight Watchers the first of the year because the Freestyle program sounded like a great plan to try and lower my numbers and lose some weight. I am supposed to have another blood test in 3 months to see if I can lower my numbers. I would prefer not to go on medication. So thank you for sharing. I hope you will continue to share. Also thanks for the beer info. I didn’t know about beer and the carbs. I know with your determination and knowledge you will be successful in lowering your stats

on January 16, 2018

As I approach 49 this year I want to be in the best shape that I have ever been. I usually go for my physical mid year and my weight over the past 5 years has increased 20 lbs which thankfully hasn’t effected my blood work or activity yet. I stumbled upon dietdoctor.com and was SHOCKED at what I had learned. I’m an RN and I’m married to a MD...we decided to change our way of eating. They have an amazing amount of research and interviews on there that explains the LCHF diet and why it works and LF does not. I was gobsmacked as I have done everything to avoid fat most of my life. I’m so happy I stumbled upon the website! They have many many good documentaries available which show amazing data...Cereal Killers 1 and 2, Statin Nation 1 and 2...check it out, you will be shocked too.

on January 16, 2018

Isn't high good cholesterol and low bad cholesterol what we are working for? Statins give me nightmares and constipate me. I'm on red rice yeast but I won't know how that is working until my next lab test in February. Diet alone doesn't work for me.

on January 16, 2018

Good luck! You can do it! I have been on a similar diet for 3 years and my reading has dropped significantly! My doctor also encouraged me to eat more fish, lean meat and incorporate vegetarian dishes into my diet regularly- eating less meat is what has really helped me, I believe. There are so many good vegetarian options to explore! An adventure!

on January 16, 2018

I appreciate your honest sharing. My husband and I are on a similar challenge. We don’t eat sugar or flower and we eat lots of fruit and vegetables, mostly raw.
Breakfast is often a lightly cooked apple, sliced and chunked with the skin on and cooked in 3/4 cup of water with a generous amount of cinnamon. Then we add 1/3 up of old fashion oatmeal and heat it for 30 seconds. It’s delicious and any leftover is great for a snack later in the day.

on January 16, 2018

Good luck Lisa! I have the same struggles. I eat healthy most of the time, incorporate lots of veggies but use half and half in my coffee and eat a (small, homemade) dessert daily. I am always looking for more vegetarian options for satisfying meals. My cholesterol does drop when I can go strictly vegetarian but it does take extra effort to learn new tricks. You can do this 3 week challenge - you are an inspiration to us all.

on January 16, 2018

I, too, appreciate your honesty. After just having had my physical on January 5th, I received similar news. Thank you for letting us know what your RDN said. This is helpful for many of us. I have been thinking of re-joining WW for similar reasons. Your hubby sounds like mine - very supportive. We are blessed indeed. Please know I will be in solidarity with you in this endeavor. We've got this!!

on January 16, 2018

Sounds like WW Freestyle would be good for ya. Also, here's a couple links that night interest you https://www.betternpeanutbutter.com All the best!

on January 16, 2018

Oops... the other link is https://eurekabread.com/products

on January 16, 2018

Wow what great comments. I liked reading this article so much I printed a copy as a reminder others struggle with cholesterol. I am in the cardiology field and witness patients getting stents placed in their arteries from plaque build-up. Keep the comments coming, I plan to follow for encouragement. Snack Girl keep us up to date on your progress and what your eating. You rock & your real!

on January 16, 2018

I’m currently doing the same thing. My breakfast today is oatmeal with almond butter, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and skim milk. It took. Few days to get used to not putting anything sweet on it, like brown sugar or maple syrup, but now I don’t miss it.

on January 16, 2018

I'm sorry to hear your LDL number is high but glad you'll be sharing your experience in lowering it through diet. Your work is very influential and motivational to so many.
There is loads of evidence-based science on this subject as well as motivation to work on this goal in Dr Greger's NutritionFacts.org site. I find it constantly reminds and motivates me to stay the course! WFPB pretty much is the answer to the many diseases of our western diet including the no.1 heart disease. Here is a relevant sample for you Lisa, as you do your own research: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/barriers-to-heart-disease-…
Best of success to you feeling stronger as you lower your LDL through diet! <3

on January 16, 2018

Our local WF sells ww pizza dough. If it is mixed with white, you and your food processor can make very yummy all-ww pizza dough. A new opportunity. No beer is one thing. No pizza quite another!!! And, it turns out, you can throw baby arugula on top of almost any pizza and it wilts and adds to the nutrition AND the flavor. And, a little part-skim mozzarella on top of whatever veggies you choose will make it taste like pizza. It doesn’t take much!!! Good luck!!!!

on January 16, 2018

Bummer regarding Dave's killer bread. I've been eating the 'good seed' for over a year. Will continue eating it, just cutting back the frequency. Best to your health Lisa, stay away from the statins !!

on January 16, 2018

it’s great that your doctor is giving you a chance to lower your ldl before putting you on meds. once you are on a statin, you are on it for life...with all its side effects included. so, as you have always
said, everyone has choices. in your case, it’s pizza, beer, cheese...and meds for high cholesterol. i think that the
challenge of correcting cholesterol levels thru diet (and please don’t believe the bunk of it’s genetic/can’t lower my cholesterol). it IS proven that diet and exercise will lower those numbers; it won’t happen overnight, so please stick with the program your doctor and nutritionist have offered you...and prove
all those negative nellies wrong!
i’ve done it myself and i was so lucky that i had the lifestyle change option before anything else. it was the right choice for me. good luck lisa!

on January 16, 2018

When I was in my early 20s, I went in a drug to help my bad acne. This raised my cholesterol above 200 (plus I have high cholesterol in my family history). I've been taking fish oil pills everyday ever since, and my numbers have come down (like 180, which isn't typical for someone my age but my doc isn't concerned) and I get them checked every year (sometimes twice a year). maybe I shouldn't totally forget about those high numbers, though, because in 10-15 years I might not be able to change them as easily. I quit WW b/c I was tired of tracking and not being able to eat whatever... but I should probably go back.

on January 16, 2018

Similar issues here. Other things to check:
RATIOS - if your rations are good, it's less of a problem
Triglyceride levels - if they are good, this is a plus
CRP - any inflammation?
Size of fat globules - mine are "big and bouncy" so there is less of an issue; small globules are more dangerous
Have an EBCT scan - this checks for fat buildup (not usually covered by insurance) in your arteries and veins; mine cost a little over $100
If the above are worrisome, you need a stress echocardiogram to determine what - if any - issues there are.

on January 16, 2018

Of all my numbers at my last physical, my cholesterol numbers were great. My blood sugar levels are inching up, my weight is inching up, but my cholesterol is golden - yay for small favors! I noticed that someone suggested Vegan cheeses - specifically Kite Hill, which are delicious, but way, way pricey at least here. 8-( For bread, if you can tolerate flat breads there are some good recipes for ones made from ground flax seed and no flour - even recipes for pizza crusts made that way.

But, I just want to say we all struggle with our own demons when it comes to food, and having a place to talk about it helps!

All the best!

on January 16, 2018

It is a wake-up call isn’t it! I had the same experience after menopause when my cardiologist said my LDL number was “borderline high.” I had always had low cholesterol before! But I do love cheese. He recommended The Low Cholesterol Diet (TLC), and I followed it to the letter. Six months later I had dropped my LDL number by nearly 40 points! It was like a science experiment, and I was glad I could control it through diet alone. Good luck to you. You can do it! Surprising how easy it is once you get in the routine. And I discovered I really like almond cheese and other vegan cheeses.

on January 16, 2018

We had the same, and we now eat oatmeal 5 days a week with fruit and it changed the count after 3 weeks.

on January 16, 2018

Hi
I too have to lower my cholesterol. Triglycerides. I work in the health care system,so I get to question many people. I recently spoke with a VNA woundcare nurse who told me she used coconut oil in her coffee and her cholesterol levels went down significantly. So I'm trying it.Tastes okay. Coconut oil/sugar is low glycemic. Good for diabetics too. So I'm trying it until May when I see my doctor. Good luck

on January 16, 2018

Thank you for your openness. I look forward to your cholesterol update.

on January 16, 2018

Your post was brave and intimate in the post possible way, knowing that you help so many people a daily basis. I'm a huge fan!

on January 16, 2018

My doctors have said that cholesterol levels are hereditary. I am 67 and my cholesterol is quite low. I eat whatever I want. This can be a problem because I can tend to gain weight. Lately, however, I have lost 20+ pounds in 3 weeks on a steady diet of salads (big ones) and cabbage soups. I get my protein from chicken and fish. I rarely eat anything with complex sugar carbs except for potatoes and carrots. I eat Vlasic pickles in between meals. The are satisfying and 0 calories and just 1 or 2 grams of carbs per serving. These are fiber carbs. Separate fiber carbs and sugar carbs in your thinking. The fiber carbs are better for the cholesterol for those of you being careful. Ask your doctor about using coconut oil instead of other oils or fats. And, since we stopped using low fat anything and veg oils hubby's cholesterol has gone down. We use real butter and coconut oil. A little goes a long way.

on January 16, 2018

I truly appreciate your honesty and sharing how to make some changes to lower your LDL. I too have high LDL, but when I eat healthier, it does lower. Best of luck and keep sharing with us!!

on January 16, 2018

Several months ago I sent a message asking why not and if cholesterol levels could be included in your nutritional information. I never saw a response but was wondering if there is the possibility of this happening since, as you can see, there are a lot of us who have to watch for this when looking for recipes. Thanks

on January 16, 2018

Hi Lisa. Good luck - I have no doubt you will be flying high again. Or low.
Let us know what happens

on January 16, 2018

Oh wow. The plan they gave you sounds very familiar to a personal detox I set up for myself a while back... okay, it was a long while back! https://seasonitalready.com/2015/02/06/10-day-its-not-a-det…

I love my cheese, so that is always a hard one. I like that wine is ok for your plan, though!

One thing I have been doing lately, is trying to get more greens in my diet. It really amps up those extra veg servings and we all know how greens are good for us. I try to make sure I have spinach or kale in the fridge and freezer. I've been using them in my morning smoothies and then putting a cup or so in the bottom of a bowl and pour hot soup over it at lunch. Easy added nutrients! The soups I've been making lately are with beans or lentils, too. So filling and so comforting with the cold weather!

on January 16, 2018

Hi Lisa, I love that you are brave enough to share your personal experiences that truly help others. You have a great blog that I have followed for some time. I love that you promote RDN's & explain why we are the nutrition experts & glad that you got some great advice. I know you love cauliflower in so many fun ways on your blog, which can also be used as a pizza crust....check it out to help with those pizza cravings! Wishing you all the best for a healthy 2018! You are definitely up to the challenge & you will inspire others too!!

on January 16, 2018

I didn't read all of the comments but - have you tried ezekiel bread https://www.foodforlife.com/about_us/ezekiel-49 ? I like the sesame one and I think it's similar to Dave's but without added sugar. 2 pts for one slice. Good luck and thanks for your honesty!

on January 16, 2018

Good Luck, Lisa! I look forward to following your journey. You. Can. Do. It!

on January 16, 2018

@Suzanne McMahon: I love Ezekiel sesame bread too. Toasted with an all-fruit jam or a thin smear of earth balance buttery spread!

on January 16, 2018

I love to share what motivates me (besides you Lisa!). Most everyone concerned with health and healthy eating has heard of Drs Barnard, Esselstyne, McDougal, Caldwell, Anderson, & Greger. They are all among a growing number of doctors that are advocating WFPB diets worldwide. Not vegan, vegetarian, et al. Whole Food Plant Based. My favorite video is Dr. Greger's ''How Not To Die''. He offers the evidence to prevent and reverse the top 15 US diseases. And for most people, pretty quickly. For anyone who hasn't heard him yet and might enjoy his info and entertaining lecture, here you go: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die/

on January 16, 2018

Everything you listed on the good list is pretty much what we have heard for years now. Give up pizza in 2018??? NO way!! You can buy cauliflower pizza crust--it's a great option-we get ours at Trader Joe's but most places have it now. I found that Birdseye mashed cauli "potatoes" is much better than most (IMO)--Ezekial bread is low in the bad stuff and is delish. There are endless options nowadays for good heart health!

on January 17, 2018

If you look up calories in Miller Lite beer [my favorite], the carbs are only 3 gr. So I continue to drink one daily white trying to live a healthier life style----check it out!!!

on January 17, 2018

"At least she didn't limit my coffee intake. She can take my coffee from my cold, dead hands." LMAO this right here is how I feel LOL!

My cholesterol was extremely high last October. Turns out an antidepressant I was taking was causing me to gain weight AND made my cholesterol shoot up to sky high numbers. My regular MD suggested I get off the antidepressants with the guidance of my therapist, and she put me on statins. She felt my numbers were too high to just try to lower with diet and exercise. So my most recent numbers at the start of the year came back...with the statins, tightening up my diet and eliminating the antidepressant, the #s are almost back to normal...so she wants to keep me on the statins for a couple more months until I'm back fully on track. I also lost 10lbs in the process.

Good luck! Cholesterol is a pain in the butt but so important to keep at healthy rates.

on January 17, 2018

I too was diagnosed with high recently as well. My Dr recommended fish oil twice daily, so far I've fit in one. I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast and limiting cheese. I did not know Dave's bread had sugar, I just recently found it. Great stuff until you mentioned that. I wish you luck and I'll take some luck too

on January 17, 2018

I agree with the first comment and also recommend the Engine 2 website, and Rip's father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn for info and ideas. You might try to replace Dave's bread with Food for Life's Ezekiel bread made with sprouted grains and 0 sugar. Oats are great for lowering cholesterol too. Good luck, Lisa. You can do this, and it gets easier every day.

on January 20, 2018

A recent 5 min video on how higher fiber diets affect cholesterol and other health issues. All backed by countless scientific studies. History of our paleo ancestors interesting too. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lose-two-pounds-one-sittin…

on February 5, 2018

Natures Own makes a sugar free 100% whole wheat bread. That isn't too bad. It has only 1 WW freestyle smartpoint per slice. I prefer it toasted.

on February 11, 2018

Great post. As a 58 year post menopausal women, my cholesterol has gone up. Ive been working on it. No meds yet but I may start partaking in 2 ounces of red wine per day, we shall see as alcohol triggers my hot flashes at night. Good luck

on February 11, 2018

Hi Lisa, Wow, I am in your predicament also and am wondering what you are finding to eat for breakfast?? So many foods have “added sugar” like yogurt (even my FAGE that I eat every morning!) ... are you doing eggs? Toast? Oatmeal?
Thanks for sharing and I know you will pull this one off!!! It may end being something you incorporate the rest of your life! All the best ...

on February 12, 2018

WHAT ARE YOUR LDL AND HDL NUMBERS ? I CHANGED MY DIET AND I NO LONGER TAKE A CHOLESTEROL PILL . MY LDL IS NOW 98 AND MY HDL IS 101 .
DO IT .

on February 13, 2018

Read Cardiologist Dr. William Davis's book, Wheat Belly. You will be both amazed and well informed. Have your Dr. do a blood particle test instead of just the old standard HDL,LDL. The size of your blood particles determines your heart attack risk. And don't let the Dr. talk you into taking statins. But again,read the book. Thx.

on April 2, 2018

What can i eat as a subsitute bread

on November 20, 2019


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