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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

Re: Big problems
Nov 26, 2002
I have hereditary high cholesterol and a family history of heart problems also. I'm a few years older than you, but otherwise our situations sound similar. (Fortunately I have no blood pressure problems, but I have a hereditary cancer risk also, so I have to pay attention to that.)

Based on my experience and research, dietary changes alone won't get your cholesterol and triglycerides where you want them to be. Neither will supplements. You've got to get some aerobic exercise several times each week to boost your HDL and burn off calories.

I've lowered my overall cholesterol (243 to 186) and LDL (161 to 120) by reducing my intake of saturated fat and eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains--which can also be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer--and increasing my exercise level. And I've cut way back on simple carbohydrates like soft drinks and sweet snacks. Things like donuts, candy bars, pie, cake, and cookies are also usually high in saturated fat, so avoiding them is doubly beneficial.

Several on this board report success from following a high-protein, low-carb diet. I've instead gone the route of a moderate-protein, moderate-carb diet, and so far had good results. I still eat carbohydrate vegetables like corn (unbuttered), rice, potatoes (no more French Fries, though!!), beans, and peas. I haven't given up bread and pasta, either, although I eat the whole-grain instead of enriched varieties.

For me, a key attitude change was realizing that eating a salad doesn't let me off the hook for eating a slab of carrot cake. I stay focused on eating healthy foods all the time, every day. If I allow myself a small sinful treat, I do it consciously and make sure it's a rare event. More often, my snacks are an apple, or a rice cake with peanut butter (the fresh-ground, peanuts-only kind), or a couple of non-fat Fig Newmans.

Although I exercise more than I used to, I can do better in that department. I walk briskly for 20 to 45 minutes three to five times a week. These days, my huge oak tree is giving me plenty of leaves to rake, so that's giving me another reason to exercise!

I've found the book "Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease" to be a good resource. Ornish recommends changes in diet, exercise, and attitude as components of his overall program. You may not want to follow all his suggestions (I don't), but you may find some useful information there.

I think the most important thing is to work with your doctor to build a program that's right for you. Every person has different circumstances.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about your progress.

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