It is generally accepted by doctors that the higher a person’s HDL (good cholesterol) measurement and the lower his LDL measurement (bad cholesterol), the better his/her health condition is.
But, what is exactly the normal ideal limit? How high or how low is acceptable? The desirable LDL level is generally considered to be less than 100 mg/dL, while the desirable HDL level is generally considered to be more than 50 mg/dL. Total desired cholesterol level in one’s blood should also be kept at less than 200 mg/dL (this is generally referred to by doctors as “borderline high” level). Generally you should try to keep your levels within this range.
Moreover, the LDL to HDL ratio should be maintained at 4.4 or less. This means, your LDL number divided by your HDL number should be 4.4 at the highest. Otherwise, consult your doctor.
However, keeping control of their cholesterol level inside these boundaries naturally can be very difficult for some people, simply because they can not bring themselves to change their lifestyle and their diet. They would rather take drugs like Zocor, Lipitor, Lescol and the like without even thinking of changing their diet pattern or lifestyle.
Anyway, to give you a clue of just how powerful a change of diet can be in lowering cholesterol, I’d like to tell you about my story.
In 2008, I took my first thorough medical check up test at the age of 37, and the result shows that my total cholesterol level reading was 376 mg/dL! My LDL alone was over 260 mg/dL. To say that I was surprised with this result would be an understatement. I was terribly shocked!
I had always felt healthy, with no sign whatsoever of anything wrong in my body. I don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, somehow lacking physical workout, but otherwise in generally better physical condition than my friends I know.
I was shocked and started looking for information on ways to reduce my numbers right away. I consulted many doctors and browsed many websites on the internet. Some suggested this, some suggested that. I took notes of them all, and I did them all (well, almost).
The result? My total cholesterol level went down from 376 mg/dL to 121 mg/dL in two short months. It was a glorious day when I found out about this huge reduction, and I confidently whispered goodbye to the dreaded possibility of heart disease.
Basically what I did is I totally changed my diet as described below:
– My doctor asked me to reduce red meat and poultry intake, so I stopped consuming all kinds of meat and fat altogether for 2 months.
– The doctor also asked me to reduce milk and dairy products, so on I went.. No milk, no chocolate, no cheese, no butter for 2 months.
– I also read on the internet that some type of vitamins and supplements are good to reduce cholesterol, so I started taking daily dose of them.
– Another doctor asked me to be more active physically, so I started jogging every saturday morning for 4 miles. I also bought a pedometer and started walking 10,000 steps each and every day. (just in case you don’t know, a pedometer is a device that counts your steps).
– A book I read suggested that I should be eating more fruits daily, so I started eating more fruits daily.
– The same book suggested that I should be eating more vegetables and eat more whole wheat bread, so I did so in my every meal.
– A friend suggested me to eat more of sea fish such as salmon and tuna because of the Omega-3 fatty acid/oil benefit of raising HDL. I ate them at least once a day with any one of my meals.
– I saw an advertisement about a cereal brand that claims to be able to tie cholesterol in the intestines, so I ate it after every meal.
And to be objective, I should really also tell you that my doctor also prescribed me with 20 mg of Zocor (known also as Simvastatin) daily for one month after he found out about my test result. However, he asked me to let him know when I have taken all the medicines, so he can monitor my progress and give me a new treatment if necessary. He was positively sure that my level would only drop by 100 points at maximum after 1 year of taking constant daily dose of Zocor.
I know from some of my friends who took the same medication, and from the medicine manufacturer’s own website that cholesterol level drop of 100 points is rare with this medicine, even with constant high dosage daily usage of 80 mg.
I never visited the same doctor again after my levels recovered, but I could only imagine the look in his face if he knows my result.
From all these facts, I could only attribute my monumental cholesterol level drop to the change of lifestyle, mainly the change in my food/diet pattern into a more healthy and natural one. Once you are at this point, controlling your numbers can be done quite easy, actually.
One note to smokers: you must stop smoking now. Smoking causes oxidization of the cholesterol in your body, and oxidized cholesterol is much more dangerous than normal cholesterol.