Fighting Cholesterol December 1, 2005

I’ve just had doctor’s orders to make some changes to make my cholesterol picture a bit prettier. Apparently my total levels aren’t bad, but my LDL/HDL ratio leaves something to be desired. To that end, I was wondering how I may look at altering my cooking to help with the other things I’ll be doing. (Primarily exercise and portion control.)

I know the information out there is very volatile – some of it is biased, some of it is based on flawed studies or has been disproven – but I thought I’d do an aggregate of what I found and just try and come up with some broad guidelines.

Things to avoid

  • Fats solid at room temperature. (Butter, margarine, any animal renderings, cream)
  • Spiking carbohydrates. (Blood sugar spikes can possibly lower HDL levels.)

Things to include

  • Red wine, within reason.
  • Orange Juice (Careful of the sugar spike.)
  • Beans, esp. Kidney and Red.
  • Omega 3: Fish, (Best: salmon, anchovy, sardine, mackerel.) (flaxseed, safflower, sunflower, canola) oil, dark green vegetables.
  • Use Olive/Canola oil for cooking and dressings.
  • Oat Bran. (2oz/day Improved LDL/HDL ratios dramatically in one study.)
  • Onion! (12 a raw onion a day, not sure if it’s worth the tax on my marriage.)
  • Soy Products. (Lowered total, raised HDL.)
  • Soluble fiber. (Apples, grapes, citrus, whole grains: oats, oat bran, brown rice, and legumes and lentils)
  • Avacado. (You don’t know how happy I was to see this.)
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Nuts (Walnuts, cashews, almonds)
  • Tea
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Non-food: “Being slim.” Ok, I have a ways to go on that one.

I like that list because it implies certain sets of dishes which I like, and which can be made in a healthy way.

  • Tofu Curry over Brown Rice.
  • Spinach lightly sauteed in garlic-infused olive oil.
  • Nutty whole-grain muffins.
  • SUSHI!!! (Salmon/Mackerel are already on my ‘favorites’ list, nice.)

Homemade brown rice salmon handrolls anybody? And so forth. There’s a whole lot of ‘yum’ in that list, and an awful lot of extra-affordable foods as well.

I’m going to have to work on cooking with legumes and lentils, I’ve never really gotten up to speed there. Anyway, I’ll add to this list as I find things, and maybe start gathering some recipes. It’s nice that I have to go get tested again in 6 weeks, it gives me a nice window to be jumping in with both feet.

Update: I just looked down and saw my last entry. SIGH. No wonder I’m having problems, look at all those no-no’s. Processed wheat in the pasta, cream, parmesan, animal fats galore… tsk tsk. It’s a good thing I’m on the straight and narrow now :)