Maybe you remember the book that was for Volkswagen repair for the complete idiot. It was called A Manual Of Step By Step Procedures For The Complete Idiot. I think that when most people are told by their doctor after an annual lab test that they have high cholesterol, they feel like a complete idiot. Most people think that they can’t have another hamburger for the rest of their life. Others think that they will do anything not to become a bunny hugger, and others hang on to their cigarettes for dear life.
Here is my disclaimer; Let me start by saying that I’m not a doctor or a dietician, nor do I play one on TV. I have been a Personal Trainer since 1976 and have successfully trained every age, shape, and health level of client. Through research, and ultimately my own and my husband’s diagnosis of high cholesterol, I began to focus on the details. I then realized just how much I didn’t know. I am a Certified Sports Nutritionist with a passion for cooking and knowing the details and components of my meals for ultimate health. And one more thing… I’m pushing 70 years old.
What is the story about Cheerios, or Statin drugs, or cholesterol in general? Unless you go online and do specific research, you will usually only have had a short discussion and been given a handout about the cholesterol diet and a prescription for a medication. I am on a cholesterol medication, but have stayed on the lowest dose possible as I studied up on the rest of the story. In fact, my cholesterol is perfectly in check at this time.
So, lets start with smoking. Smoking makes LDL (bad cholesterol, or L for lousy) stickier making it cling to artery walls which clogs them. It also lowers the HDL cholesterol (H for healthy) which is what you need to move the cholesterol from artery walls.
According to WebMD, smoking increases clotting, damages your lungs, weakens your bones, increases inflammation and weakens your immune system. Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure and heart rate go down and in 2 – 3 weeks your blood flow starts to get better. If your cholesterol is high, a healthier cardiovascular system can definitely extend your life.
So what’s the deal with Cheerios? Well, the FDA has warned that Cheerios claims that eating them can decrease cholesterol in 4 – 6 weeks, and that eating them can prevent or treat heart disease. Eating oats can aid in preventing LDL from sticking, but there are other types of cholesterol and disease involved in your heart health.
The truth about the soluble fiber found in Cheerios is that it forms a gel like consistency in the digestive tract. Consuming 10 – 25 or more grams of soluble fiber each day can lower LDL, but HDL and Triglycerides are only minimally affected by eating soluble fiber. When this gel like consistency is in your digestive tract, you are likely to eliminate some LDL before it gets into your blood stream. Some people add products like Bene fiber or Metamucil to their daily routine for a healthy digestive system.
Foods containing soluble fiber are: Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium. So to answer the question about Cheerios, yes eating Cheerios or Oatmeal for breakfast every day is a good start, but really a small part of the story.
Without getting technical, remember this article is for the complete idiot, so I am not qualified to talk about the intimate details, but according to Harvard.edu, only about 20% of cholesterol is derived from your diet. The other 80% is created by the liver so when you are put on cholesterol medication, the design is to limit the amount of cholesterol that your body makes. One thing to know is that cholesterol is needed for digestion, Vitamin D production, and the production of certain hormones, so it’s not necessarily a bad word altogether. If you have a 100% heart healthy diet, you could still have sky – high lab reports because that’s what your ancestors had.
So far in reading this this article, if you have cut back on smoking and started eating more soluble fiber, you’re off to a good start because LDL or low-density lipoproteins is the “bad” cholesterol and these two changes will aid in lowering this number.
The next lipid or fat found in your blood are Triglycerides. According to the Mayo Clinic, excess calories consumed are converted to Triglycerides and stored in your fat cells only to be released for energy when needed. If you eat more fats than you burn, especially carbohydrates, (BOOM!) more body fat, higher Triglycerides. This is where ANY amount of exercise is very valuable as it not only burns the burden of excess fat, but moves Triglycerides lurking in your system.
Another component to understand here is Omega 3 Fatty Acids. TV commercials talk about this and guarantee good health, heart health, lower cholesterol, and more. First, let me say that there are millions of products available, some of them just called fish oil, others promise to be the end – all of cholesterol. This is not the whole story. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are a friendly type of fat that the body doesn’t produce on its own, but is necessary in reducing clots and keeping platelets from sticking. They help to keep arteries smooth, lower Triglycerides, slow inflammation, MAY raise HDL (the good stuff) and may lower blood pressure. If you choose to buy an Omega 3 supplement, I recommend that you shop carefully and buy from a reputable source.