Two months ago, my husband John got his blood test results back. His total cholesterol and LDL (the bad kind) were on the high side. His LDL was 5.22 whereas the recommended range is 1 to 3. The good news was that his HDL cholesterol (the good kind) was also high and his triglycerides were fine.
John’s doctor gave him a prescription to lower his LDL, but John was not wild about taking medication for this situation. So, he decided to try to lower his cholesterol by adjusting his diet.
Last week, John had another blood test and the results were incredible. In just two months, his total cholesterol dropped by over 23%. His LDL was down to 3.65, a 30% drop. His triglycerides dropped by 24%. And his HDL was unchanged. John had managed to significantly lower his cholesterol without drugs. What did he do?
What did John do?
Since we both work and don’t always eat together (especially at lunch), I asked John what he did to bring his cholesterol down. His approach was simple. He didn’t follow any strict diet, but he did make a conscious effort to cut back on certain foods. He also continued with his regular regimen of exercise and walks.
John cut back on the amount of cheese he had been eating. Give him credit, we live in Switzerland where cheese is everywhere and it is delicious. At work, John cut back on greasy meals. He reduced his red meat intake, and focused on fish, chicken, rice, pasta and regular vegetarian meals. He also ate huge amounts of fresh fruit and he sometimes had shrimp. But he still indulged, eating a few handfuls of potato chips now and then. (He loves chips!)
For breakfast, not much changed. John had his usual fruit salad, whole-wheat bread or cereal, yogurt, coffee and juice. He also had his 2-3 soft-boiled eggs every week. (I will write about eggs in more detail in a future post.)
Importantly, John took the time to relax and decompress. These past few months have been hectic, to say the least. John has had several speaking engagements involving travel in Europe. He has also left the World Health Organization—28 February was his last day—to pursue his passion for public speaking full time. He has given up the security of a full-time job to become an entrepreneur at the age of 52.
John is fairly Zen about most things, but he makes an extra effort to slow down from time to time and even take a 20-minute nap when he can. Just as importantly, if he decides to eat something that is not exactly healthy—like potato chips—he does not beat himself up over it afterwards. He enjoys it but keeps it in moderation.
What about you?
I am not saying that what worked for John will work for you. We are all different. In some cases, medication might be absolutely necessary.
However, doing some of the things that John did—reducing consumption of greasy and fatty foods; exercise; relaxing—will be good for you. (Just watch out for those potato chips!)