Diet Consultants Billings MT
By Lambeth Hochwald
recipes by Maria Cooper
When Mary Anne Nally of Southold, New York, went for her annual physical, she feared what her doctor might say when he saw her blood-test results. “High cholesterol runs in my family, and even though I eat a relatively healthy diet, I had a sneaking suspicion mine was high too,” says the 54-year-old. “I was afraid my doctor might want to put me on a statin drug, which I really didn’t want to take.” When her doctor did, indeed, suggest a statin, Nally asked him to give her three months to get her cholesterol down on her own. He agreed, but warned her that she’d have to work hard. “He said I would need to start exercising regularly and completely overhaul my diet.”
With at least 11 million Americans taking statin drugs to keep their cholesterol levels under control, popping a pill to get your numbers down seems like a no-brainer. But the research is clear: Diet, along with a healthy dose of daily exercise, can do your body just as much good. In fact, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto, eating cholesterol-lowering foods regularly, such as oats, almonds, and barley, can lower your levels just as effectively as statins—and a lot more safely.
“Diet is definitely the key to lowering cholesterol without drugs,” says Judith Stanton, MD, an internist who combines conventional internal medicine with alternative and complementary therapies in her Berkeley, California, practice. Stanton sites multiple studies on how a Mediterranean diet—which consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and olive oil—has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 72 percent, while cholesterol-lowering drugs only decrease the risk of heart disease by 34 percent.
Whether you take a statin now, your doctor has threatened to prescribe one, or you want to avoid that possibility, changing your eating habits can have a lifelong impact on your heart health.
Over the last 20 years or so, cholesterol has gotten a pretty bad rap. Fact is, literally every cell of the body needs this waxy, fat-like substance to help digest fats, strengthen cell membranes, and make hormones. Because of the essential role cholesterol plays, the body creates all it needs on its own—about 1,000 mg a day. However, we get even more from some of the foods we eat; egg yolks and meat, for example, have the most, while plant-derived foods have none at all.
In order for cholesterol to reach our cells, it must rely on special carriers called lipoproteins: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) to be exact—two terms often tossed around respectively as “bad” and “good” forms of cholesterol. Why the value judgments? To answer that, it helps to know what each one does, says Robert Marshall, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC.
LDL carries cholesterol through the body and deposits it in the cells. HDL transports any cholesterol the...
Author: Lambeth Hochwald