Country Lore: Natural Strategies for Cholesterol Control

This reader lowered her cholesterol by 88 points with just a few small changes.

| February/March 2006

I recently went to the doctor to have my cholesterol checked. Previously, the doctor had prescribed medication to help control it. The doctor and I were both pleasantly surprised that my LDL was down 95 points and my total cholesterol was down 88 points! Then she said, "The medication is really working for you. " Well, surprise, I hadn't been taking the medication she prescribed. What I had done was make three little changes in my life — nothing drastic or dramatic, but obviously effective.

I had always been fairly conscientious about my diet, eating balanced meals and keeping junk food to a minimum. I was less than 20 pounds over my ideal weight, and I did a modicum of exercise. Despite this semihealthy lifestyle, my cholesterol levels had been creeping up over the past 12 years.

I read everything I could find about cholesterol. I finally narrowed the success factors down to three: elimination of saturated and trans fats, increased fiber intake and regular exercise.

It was fairly easy to substitute olive oil for butter or margarine. The mild/light version does not have an oily taste; as a matter of fact, it is almost tasteless. For foods that demand a butter flavor, I add butter buds to the oil. Also, my day now starts with whole-grain cereal to which I add golden raisins and 1-percent or 2-percent low-fat milk.

These two adjustments are the only actual changes I have made to my diet. I have always eaten whole-grain bread, brown rice, plenty of vegetables and more chicken than beef. Just imagine if I hadn't!

The final lifestyle change was to exercise on a regular basis. After all these years and many attempts, I have accepted the fact that I cannot do this on my own; I must belong to a class. I exercise at least three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes each time.

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