Cholesterol…DA DA DUUUUMMMMM

I listened to a voice-message from my psychiatrist today (telling me the results of those pesky blood tests I had to take last week). Apparently, my blood is good. Sweet. Tasty, even. Okay.

What astounded me, though, was that the Doc reported my total blood cholesterol is 176, which is, I’m told, pretty awesome.

Since I don’t “diet” or refuse any foods (dessert, pizza, foie gras), I thought I should find out more about what they’re saying here. My good cholesterol is high, too. And I don’t even “exercise”, though I do rely on my feet and public transit to get me around, and I carry my own shit. Still.

Things I Know About Cholesterol:

1. High cholesterol is bad and low cholesterol is good.

2. HDL is “good” cholesterol and LDL is “bad” cholesterol.

And that’s about it.

Here’s what www.healthcentral.com has to say about how you should eat to get cholesterol like mine (and which of these rules I follow, tracked by my awesome point system):

Saturated fats should be avoided or reduced, and trans fats should be cut out if possible.

Okay, I eat tons of saturated fats, ice cream, cake, cookies, but I don’t eat much trans fat, that I know about. Points: -3

Fats are high in calories, but you don’t need to scrutinize your diet by counting calories. Instead, work toward phasing out calorie-heavy foods and replacing them with healthier alternatives.

* Switch from regular soda to diet soda

Ew. Diet soda is gross, with the exception of Fresca. I drink Coke (preferably hecho en Mexico because then it has real cane sugar in it, instead of that nasty corn syrup) almost every day. Points: -2

* Use skim milk instead of whole or reduced fat

Again, ew. It’s all about whole milk and cream. Points: -5

* Replace lard or butter with low fat butter substitutes

Nasty! I can’t even imagine using margarine, or “butter substitutes”. I also can’t imagine “butter substitutes without thinking about Fabio. Points: -5

* Switch to “lite” foods

Whatever the hell that means. If it means Lean Cuisine, that’s the nastiest thing I’ve ever heard. So far, these tips would make me want to commit suicide. Points: -5

Buy smaller portions. Today foods are sold in increasingly larger sizes, and you may not realize that you are eating more than you need. Though it may be hard to resist the temping 2-for-1 deals at the grocery store, buying smaller portions can help you control your calories.

Wait, “Buy smaller portions”? How about eat smaller portions? Who doesn’t realize they’re eating 2 lbs. of food vs. 8 oz.? That said, I don’t have much room in my apartment for Costco-size stuff, so I guess I do this. But I’d totally take advantage of a 2-for-1 deal at the grocery store. Points: +3

The Right Food for Your Cholesterol

* Oatmeal lowers your LDL without lowering your HDL.

I love oatmeal. This must be the reason. However, when I eat oatmeal, I put about a ½ c. of brown sugar in the bowl. Points: +2

* Fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, lowers LDL, raises HDL, and lowers triglycerides.

LOVE fish. Raw, pan-seared, baked, whatever. All about the fishies. Points: +5

* Nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lower LDL.

Dig the nuts. Points: +5

* Soy has been shown to lower LDL.

I eat tofu once in a while…in take-out from the Thai place. And whenever I go out for sushi, I eat edamame. Points: +2

* Fiber lowers your cholesterol. It can be found in kidney beans, green peas, broccoli, apples, brown rice, and whole grain breads.

I eat lots of fiber. Points: +5

* Antioxidants in foods, such as vitamins A, C, and E, lower the chances of LDL building up in your arteries. You can get your antioxidant vitamins in foods such as strawberries, oranges, oils and margarines, and melons.

Stawberries = yum (but only in season), oranges (especially fresh-squeezed juice) = excellence, I adore olive oil and dig the cantaloupe. Points: +5

Cooking Tips

* Use whole grain flour instead of white flour.

Well, I don’t really cook, but when I do, it’s usually cake…and then I use cake flour…which is probably considered “white”. This is also something called “baking” not “cooking” so I don’t know if it should count. Points: -2

* Buy lean meats, like turkey or chicken, instead of red meat, and trim all the fat from it before cooking.

I love turkey, I’ll eat chicken on occasion, but if I’m out to eat meat, it’s going to be a filet, maybe a NY strip, or lamb or duck or Bambie. Points: -4

* Cook with vegetable oil, which is high in polyunsaturated fats, and olive and canola oils, which are high in monounsaturated fats.

What else do people cook with? Shortening? Points: +5

* Instead of frying, boil, broil, bake, roast, poach, or steam meats, and drain off all fat before eating.

I eat meats prepared all ways. Points: +2

* Reduce your salt intake by using herbs to flavor your meals, and avoiding salty snack foods, pickles, cured meats, and cheeses.

OMG. Pickles? Cured meats? Cheese? If I had to avoid these three things, I would die. I would just die. Seriously, CHEESE? Points: -5

Eating Out

* Don’t be afraid to ask how your food is prepared and to voice how you want it prepared.

Um, I’m not afraid, but I do think it’s fucking rude to tell the chef that the way she’s doing it is a no-go. If I’m eating out, I want what the restaurant serves. Points: -5

* Ask restaurants to not add salt (tell the wait staff you are “allergic”)

Totally rude. And that’s also lying. If you really don’t want added salt, grow a backbone (which takes salt, by the way) and tell them just that. Points: -5

* Get foods that are steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, or roasted.

I do this, all the time, if that’s what I happen to like on the menu. Points: +4

Grand total: +9

If this was 3-2-1-CONTACT some kid would pop up right about now and say, “Now that’s food for thought!”

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3 Responses to “Cholesterol…DA DA DUUUUMMMMM”

  1. M. Says:

    yay! i’m happy you have good blood – my blood is not so excellent, but i blame my parents by which i mean i blame my genes.

    I think a lot of the conventional wisdom on cholesterol is changing –
    For example: Red meat is not-so-bad _IF_ it is 100% grass-fed since these animals evolved for millions of years on that diet and their fat makeup resembles that of fish when they are only fed grass. It is industrial farming’s use of grain (corn and soy mostly) along with all kinds of other nasty stuff that makes the beef you eat at fast food restaurants, and most of the meat on offer at grocery stores poison. Look for 100% grass-fed or 100% pasture-raised and enjoy Filet to your heart’s content. It tastes better too BTW…

    I highly recommend Michael Pollen’s book “In Defense of Food” for an entertaining, fresh and informative look at food.

  2. David Bradley Says:

    As you’re probably now aware, cholesterol levels have little to do with diet, they are down to the control your liver has over your metabolism and that’s down to the enzymes it produces. I have a friend who eats absolutely nothing with cholesterol in it and yet has the highest “bad” cholesterol levels of anyone I know. Me, I’ve never even had mine tested, why worry about it, it’s pretty much beyond your control and who knows what long-term side-effects for statins will emerge in years to come.

  3. sflovestory Says:

    Hi there. Interesting, guys. So, according to David Bradley, it doesn’t really matter what you eat as soon as you have certain enzymes produced by your liver…and you have no control over that.

    I think this is a case for “Ask Holden’s Dad”. He’s a gastrointerologist, so I’m sure he’ll have some interesting light to shine on the subject.

    I’ll be sure to post here what I find out. I’m done with internet info…time to talk to the doc!

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