What's The Story?

A few years ago my doctor told me I needed to start taking pills to lower my cholesterol. My LDL-Cholesterol was 170. I was healthy and didn't follow his recommendation. Lately I did another round of tests and my cholesterol wasn't much better even though I thought it should have improved. LDL-Cholesterol was 166. Another doctor told me I have to start taking pills. I asked her if there was nothing I could do, like exercise or change my diet to get better and she responded no. She said odds are my body makes too much cholesterol, in such a case, changing diet or exercising doesn't generate the required reduction in Cholesterol level.

The doctor agreed that I would meet a dietitian. I decided to first try to reduce my cholesterol levels through diet, and then if it didn't work, consider taking pills. Taking those pills is for life and comes with side effects I had no interest in.

My goal was to reduce from 166, which is considered high, to 159, which is considered borderline high. I aimed to reduce by less than 5%.

The dietitian provided a few pages with instructions. I couldn't find an app or website that makes it actionable and simple to follow. I found apps that help lower weight and achieve all kinds of other goals I didn't care about. I just needed a simple actionable food guide to help me follow the recommended diet.

I turned the instructions into a cheat sheet and placed this cheat sheet on my phone homescreen, and every meal time I first consulted the cheat sheet. When following instructions, one needs to eat certain things, avoid others, limit quantity of some foods and eat a minimum of other foods. It wasn't easy to keep track of it all so I prepared a detailed checklist for every day and every week and connected it to my phone calendar. Every time I ate I marked what I did. Every time I went to eat I used the cheat sheet to make sure I'm making the right choices.

The first 3 weeks were hard. My stomach didn't take it very well. After a lifetime of white bread and red meat switching to whole wheat and high on fiber foods took a little getting used to. But I remembered the alternative was taking pills and suffering side effects for the rest of my life, for hopefully decades to come. And I told myself that it's impossible that I can't lose 4.6% by changing my diet.

3 months later I got my test results, LDL-Cholesterol was down. It wasn't down to 159 from 166. It was 119. Well in the healthy territory.

I'm no doctor. All I'm saying is, if all you've got is high cholesterol, and you're otherwise healthy and have no other reason to worry, you might as well try a different diet for 3 months and see if that solves it. If it doesn't work you can always go for pills. And even with pills you're supposed to follow this diet anyway. Yes, I do need to follow this diet for the rest of my life. I like what I eat. There are only a handful of things I really miss, and having those once every few months is just fine by me. It beats the alternative every day.

Leave your email to learn about upcoming tools to help follow the Low Cholesterol Food Guide