As some of you may have heard, March is National Nutrition Month. During the month of March I am going to blog on topics that readers request, giving you all the information you want to know! Leave comments or email carrieRD@carriedawayaboutnutrition.com to put in your suggestions!
This first top hailed to us from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. If you have been told you have high cholesterol or borderline high cholesterol, try lifestyle changes before going on medication. My friend/roommate/running partner who is also a dietitian was confronted with a high LDL lab value at a doctors visit. This was the first time she heard she had high cholesterol and the doctor wanted to prescribe her a cholesterol lowering medication right on the spot… he didn’t happen to know that she is a Registered Dietitian. She never filled the prescription and over the course of a year, through diet modifications, she lowered her LDL cholesterol from 161 (high risk) to 107 (<100 is optimal, <129 near optimal). As a young and athletic person, she obviously followed a decent diet to begin with so I asked her what changes she made at this point:
1. Increase fiber, specifically soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol and inhibit cholesterol synthesis. Sources of soluble fiber include legumes and beans, oats, apples, strawberries, carrots, whole grains, citrus, and green leafy vegetables.
2. Decrease red meat, due to the saturated fat content. She didn’t include red meat more than twice a week prior to the doctors visit and decreased to about 2 serving per month after. The main culprits of saturated fat are beef, processed meats (sausages), and whole milk dairy and products (cheese).
3. Increase lean protein. Lean proteins include chicken breast, lean ground turkey, pork tenderloin and chop, and egg whites. She typically ate an egg white omelet full of veggies for breakfast and had a grilled chicken breast with dinner.
These changes she made reflect the recommendations of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Diets. These diets emphasis 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (fiber!), whole grains (fiber!), 6oz of lean proteins (less saturated fat), and monounsaturated heart healthy fats. You can read more about these diets and their recommendations at:
If you aren’t already active, become active. Additional factors that receive some attention for lowering cholesterol include antioxidants, soy protein, stanols and sterols (products are available that include plant sterols like smart balance margarine), weight loss and fish oil. Remember aging, genetics, other disease states (i.e. diabetes), hypothyroidism, and obesity are all factors that may increase LDL cholesterol but diet and lifestyle can overcome all!