HeyDahls!: Cholesterol and Rewriting Family History

Q: I found out this week that my cholesterol is high. It’s hereditary plus I need more exercise. Nutritionally though, I’d love some guidance. I’ve put together a good grocery list so far but I’m not sure how to handle this on the day to day. I eat at the coffee shop where I work most mornings and afternoons but I need dinner guidance. Help please.


 

A: Heya!  Thank you for your question.  I’m glad you are staying on top of your cholesterol levels- especially with a family history of it.

What’s amazing about family histories, is that we have the stories of our ancestors written into our genes.

Epigenetics is an entire field of medicine and genetic study associated with understanding the expression of those genes.  And that we can alter the expression of those genes, turning certain gene receptors on and and off, simply by lifestyle choices we make in the here and now.

We can rewrite our ancestral stories.

What I’m saying it there’s a path forward in rewriting your story. And you are already stepping into it.  How awesome is that?

Can I catch up other readers on cholesterol?

The American Heart Association explains that:

“Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: your body and food. Your body, and especially your liver, makes all the cholesterol you need and circulates it through the blood. But cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Your liver produces more cholesterol when you eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats.

Excess cholesterol can form plaque between layers of artery walls, making it harder for your heart to circulate blood. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. If it blocks an artery that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack

They continue to explain that eating a healthy diet and getting more healthy movement into your lifestyle, is a great way to support healthy cholesterol levels.

Arterial Plaque (image from American Heart Association)

LDL & Arterial Plaque (image from American Heart Association)

You see LDL – think L for Lousy – is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of plaque in our arteries.

HDL – think H for Happy – is the ‘good’ cholesterol breaking up excess plaque in our arteries and flushing it along its way back to the liver.

Rewriting the Story

So remember what I said our rewriting our family stories?

The choices that we make in the here and now tinker with the balance of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.

And healthy eating, the everyday practice of nourishing ourselves, is one of the most effective ways to effect tinker with the balance.

The AHA recommends a diet rich with dark leafy greens and unrefined, nutrient-dense sources of plant-based fiber from whole grains and beans.

Fortunately, and I think you know where this is going… I have a formula designed to help you programs dark leafy greens and grains and beans into your diet! HEY NOW!!!

Magnet (1)

Try once a week going to the farmer’s market or grocery store and buy no more than THREE dark leafy greens. Then find occasions to throw small handfuls of greens into whatever you are eating.

Maybe you even visit the bulk food aisle of health food stores like Mom’s or Whole Foods or Yes! Market and make a whole grain or bean for the week.  I also find the “International” aisles of traditional grocery stores can be a great resources in getting grains and beans in lieu of a bulk section.

Then use the formula to create meals.

What if I challenged you to use the formula to create perhaps just THREE meals this week? Three home cooked dinners?

And even you don’t make a grain or bean this week, try adding dark leafy greens to a pasta.  I’ll even add greens to leftover take out curries, stir-frys, and soups….

OH, and about them fats…

As you get your healthy meal prep rhythm, then maybe it grows into breakfast too..

Because here’s the thing.  I do love a breakfast pastry every now and again from my local coffee shop.  But often there’s no telling what kind of fats and oils they are using in those pastries, shortening or margarine or other sources of trans fats are more dangerous for cholesterol levels than saturated fats and those breakfast pastries can be chock full of them.

Do you know your fats?  Here’s a helpful guide I wrote about healthy fats, and how to use each kind of fat in a healthy cooking practice to reduce inflammation.

The AHA promotes cutting out saturated fats from your diet and doing low-fat dairy.  But saturated fats like coconut oil are heart healthy.

And low-fat, dairy can be chock full of fake sugars that increase insulin resistance, and nobody’s got time for that.

And did you ask about eggs?

Did you know runny egg yoke is quite healthy? By keeping egg yoke as runny as possible, it keeps all the heart healthy long omega-3 fatty acid chains in tact… It’s only when egg yokes over-oxidize and solidify- say in a hard boiled egg, that the cholesterol content becomes problematic.

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Poached eggs have a special place in the LD healthy eating formula. Not only do they remind me of morning playdates, but poaching eggs is hands down the healthiest way to enjoy them.

Lazy Poached Eggs is one of my favorite uses of leftovers. Crack egg over whatever veggies and grains and beans you have on hand and add a *little* water to edges, cover with lid, steam. Voila!

Stay connected with the tribe. Stay inspired.

Love love.

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