How Can I Keep my Cholesterol Low?

I rode my bicycle both Saturday and Sunday for a total of 62 miles! Saturday was a 34 mile ride of challenging hills. My legs were tired at the end! They recovered for a 28 mile ride around the reservoir on Sunday. It is our favorite route and will do that one most Sundays. 

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Sunday around the reservoir

Monday brought warm enough temperatures but a very strong wind. I’d considered a ride after work but the thought of that headwind changed my mind. I opted for a 7 mile walk instead. I’ll get my miles in one way or another!

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Monday walk

I’ve been asked by a friend to do a blog on cholesterol. Considering her 60th birthday is a mere month away, she should be concerned (heehee…sorry Joanne)! I say that in jest but the truth hurts because I’m not far behind! Cholesterol builds up in your blood stream over a long period of time. Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle as well as family history can all contribute to a rise in your low-density lipoprotein, LDL, or bad cholesterol. So how to lower it?

Diet plays a key role in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. Here are four foods that, when eaten on a regular basis, will help keep those levels down.

  1. Oatmeal – contains soluble fiber, which reduces your bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber per day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber.
  2. Fish and Omega 3 fatty acids – eating fatty fish can be good for your heart because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil – Omega 3’s, reduces the risk of sudden death. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut. I’ll add that flax seeds have small amounts of Omega-3s. I add these to a smoothie. Recipe to follow.
  3. Not a fish fan? How about nuts? Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid and also help keep blood vessels healthy. 
  4. Olive oil – olive oil contains a mix of antioxidants that can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol but leave your good (HDL) cholesterol untouched. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Olive oil is high in calories, so don’t eat more than the recommended amount. Two tablespoons a day will do it!
  5. EXERCISE! Being overweight tends to increase the amount of LDL in your blood. Thirty minutes 3-5 times a week is beneficial to lowering LDL cholesterol. 

My cholesterol level has never been high and my goal is to keep it that way. I’ve recently added flax seed to my diet.One tablespoon has 1.8 grams of Omega 3s. I tried eating them plain but they’re rather small and somewhat sticky and I found I was picking them out of my teeth. Eeww. Now I put about a tablespoon in a smoothie. You can’t even taste them. I make this smoothie after working out and while I’m cooking supper. I’m hungry after my workout and this keeps me from picking. 

  • 1/2 cup plain non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 frozen mixed strawberries and blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed

Blend for a few minutes to ensure the frozen fruit is completely pureed. This smoothie also provides 35% of the RDA of calcium, 24% RDA of protein and only 180 calories. A fitting reward after my 7 mile walk!

As the days get warmer and longer and I’m able to spend more time on my bicycle, my mind goes more and more to the first weekend in August when I’ll ride for the 11th time in the annual Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile bike-a-thon raises millions of dollars every year for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes to Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund. My goal this year is to raise $10,000. Would you consider sponsoring me with a donation? I’ve already raise $1,500 and I haven’t even sent out one letter! You can learn more about the PMC here http://www.pmc.org. If you’d like to consider sponsoring  me you can do so at www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. If you’d like to send me an old fashioned check send me a message and I’ll provide my address.

Thanks for reading my blog!

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