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Heart Healthy: One Bite At A Time

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If you are reading this there’s a chance your cholesterol is too high. When I received the results of my blood work in January 2014 I was surprised to hear my doctor say he wanted to put me on a statin. My total cholesterol was 267 and my LDL was 189. The good cholesterol HDL was only 35. I was used to near perfect checkups and this was not good news. However, I was determined to find another solution. With my doctor’s blessing, I became laser focused on doing whatever it took to lower my cholesterol without taking any medications.

* Most people who follow a healthy food plan have success with weight loss as well as a decline in cholesterol and better overall blood pressure. *

As long as I can remember I’ve eaten whatever I wanted. Coming from the south that means fried anything and a wonderful dessert after evening meals. And, with coffee shops all around, I couldn’t pass up a scone and latte for breakfast. Make that two lattes. Somehow my metabolism allowed me to keep a consistent weight for years while eating lots of things I shouldn’t have. However, it finally caught up with me.

I’ve read countless articles, blogs and research studies on cholesterol and heart health. My digging led me to lots and lots of opinions that can leave anyone confused. Most of the opinions came from prestigious heart clinics, cardiologists, and nutrition specialists. Some say statins. Others suggest a balanced food diet. Some say no grains. Others say whole grains. Some articles discuss the power of olive oil. Still others say no oil. Some say limit red meat consumption. Others say eat grass fed meat as often as you like. Eggs? Some say yes and others say no. You see what I mean? As suspected, most cardiologists are in line with the American Heart Association and lean toward a balanced diet to lower cholesterol and at times will prescribe a statin medicine. However, many other cardiologists, who are not only published but have extensive research studies backing them, suggest cholesterol isn’t always the culprit. More on that later.

At first I was in panic mode and tried deleting any and everything that had added sugar, saturated fats or cholesterol. I didn’t really have a plan I just started removing items from my diet. What was I going to eat now?  Literally, I was obsessed! I read every nutrition chart for restaurants I frequented and unfortunately had to discontinue visiting many of them. Some of the first things to go were sodas, bread, pasta, and fried foods. Serious? Yep!  And, then I started trying foods that weren’t usually found in our home. Beets, Kale and Squash among others. And many new recipes followed that I’ll be sharing with you.

Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a fitness instructor. I’m not a wellness coach. (What is a wellness coach anyway?) I’m not a nutritional expert. Keep in mind… I’m also not guaranteeing that if you do what I did you’ll receive the exact benefits that I experienced. However, my decisions led to an extreme decline in my total cholesterol along with lowering my LDL and raising my good cholesterol (HDL). Also, my weight dropped from 174 to 157 and for the first time since 10th grade my stomach was flat.

(My mother in law says I need to gain weight but my cardiologist says I’m doing just fine)

I realized I needed a plan. So, one of the first things I did was establish a morning routine. As starters I drink 8 ounces of water before I have coffee or breakfast. It’s important to stay hydrated and it’s important that water becomes your friend. For years I would skip breakfast (except for my must have latte) which resulted in eating too much at lunch. I would feel tired a few hours later only to go home to eat a huge dinner. You get the picture?

So, here among these blogs and recipes are some of the changes I’ve made that helped lower my cholesterol and most importantly changed my overall heart health. I hope you’ll be encouraged and challenged to make the necessary changes that will lead to a more healthy you.