My husband got a warning six months ago, that his cholesterol and blood pressure were too high. Test results from yesterday show that everything was back to healthy levels, with no more than a change of diet.
Our food consists of about 80 % of vegetables and fruit, the rest is nuts, olive oil, fat fish, eggs and dark chocolate.
Another help against high blood pressure: your pets!
Good news on the normal cholesterol with diet and exercise for your husband. I like the part about dark chocolate and pets!
Without doing many of the suggested remedies, my BP would be off the charts! It's hereditary. I still have to take lisinopril, despite my diet and exercise, meditation and garlic! Maybe I need a pet.
The sodium/potassium ratio in one's diet is linked to blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Blood pressure as low as possible is beneficial as long as it isn't causing symptoms.
Vegetables have lots of potassium, and the DASH diet for hypertension is semi-vegan - high in fruits and veg's and low in animal food.
I eat a vegan diet without added salt, and my dietary sodium/potassium ratio is about 1/15! My blood pressure has been as low as 90/60, although I'm in my 50's. By comparison, the dietary sodium/potassium ratio of the average American is about 5/4, and an increase in blood pressure with age is considered normal. However, it isn't necessary with a low-salt diet. Also, I've read that blood pressure increase can be irreversible, so it's better to prevent it!
There's a lot of sodium in processed foods; it's very hard to have a low-sodium diet if a lot of it is processed.
Since adding sodium is a cheap way to make foods attractive, people get used to more and more salt in their food and there's a sort of inflation in salt content by food companies and restaurants.
A couple years ago I was hospitalised at the Veterans Administration over another matter; they did a cholesterol test and decided that I was running cholesterol through my blood vessels, not blood.
After I got out of the hospital, I was required to return to the outpatient clinic, where when the doc told me I needed to go on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and I asked him about both dietary methods of lowering cholesterol and the fact my epilepsy drug (phenobarbital) affects all medications I take (causing much higher concentrations, slower elimination, and potential liver damage from some), he told me "If you don't take this you'll die."
I asked for another opinion, he refused. I left, and he actually screamed the "You'll die" argument across his waiting room.
After stopping by patient advocacy to report him for violating my privacy, I went home and set up a second appointment with a private doctor. He had to repeat all the tests (and the VA wouldn't pay for it, all of it had to come out of my own pocket including the doctor's visits because the VA already determined a course of action so disapproved payment).
After confirming the VA's tests (cholesterol way too high), I asked him about dietary control. (He was aware of my phenobarbital problem as he was my wife's physician), specifically the Mayo Clinic's diet.
He pointed out the biggest problem with dietary control of cholesterol is sticking to the diet. Most people actually "cheat," and as such aren't really following the diet.
He was also aware that for several years I had taken another drug (an MAOI) which has extremely restrictive dietary requirements (much tougher than a low cholesterol diet and the penalty for cheating on an MAOI diet can be a sudden gruesome death) and had no trouble sticking to that diet, so he was of the opinion the Mayo Clinic diet would be no trouble for me. His only requirement was that he wished to monitor my cholesterol over several months to ensure it was working (as there are cases where even strict dietary control does not work).
Fair enough for me. Unfortunately the VA stuck me with the cost of all the tests and doctor's visits (so much for military medical benefits).
And lo! The cholesterol level gradually dropped. Over the last year (now living in a new state), the VA is scratching its collective heads, wondering how I could have refused the statins and yet have my cholesterol drop to the normal range.
The real issue about dietary control of cholesterol is you cannot cheat, you have to stick to the diet, no matter how much you hate the idea. Cheating on such a diet is like the idea of being a little bit pregnant. You are either on such a diet, or you are not.
Did I give up high cholesterol foods? No. They are still in my diet (as the Mayo Clinic's diet does allow them). I don't overdo it.
Such a diet is actually a lifestyle change. If you are not willing to make such a change every day, then the diet method won't work. In my case I was already familiar with restrictive dietary requirements (due to my former medications).
Though I am in my mid-fifties, my blood pressure is well within the normal range (I am also underweight, not overweight). I am not sure if the Mayo Clinic's low cholesterol diet will have any effect on blood pressure, as I wasn't looking for that when I was searching for alternative solutions to statin drugs.
A big problem with special diets is social pressure - who you go to parties with, who you date, who you marry. Food has so many interpersonal aspects. If one is vegan, does that mean only going to vegan parties, only dating vegans - if so, why should one structure one's life around veganity? That would be awfully restrictive. Similarly for being gluten-free or having a lot of food allergies or trying to eat very healthy.
I'm used to not eating what other people are eating, I don't find it to be a big deal. But for many people, being included socially by eating what other people eat is a big deal. The friendliness of sharing food might be instinctive. Likely in all cultures, eating the same food together is a socially-bonding thing, and eating different food is somewhat off-putting.
It's a big part of the excess-weight problem. Our whole food culture makes it difficult for people to eat in a way that promotes thinness or health.
James, thank you for your insightful information. It is encouraging to know an option and your description makes it sound very possible. Does your family eat any differently now that you have had such an outstanding outcome?
We eat more vegetables and less meat. Not no meat. Not even no high-fat meat. Just less.
Bear in mind I live in a place county where there are fifteen hundred people and half a million cattle. This is definitely beef country.
Part of the secret is my wife is an excellent cook, thus she can whip up meals that are interesting, delicious, and naturally low in cholesterol.
The issue of my high cholesterol was first discovered four years ago. It is simply a matter of getting educated about both cholesterol and saturated fat (the latter of which can appear in vegetables too). Palm oil and coconut oil for example are about as bad (maybe worse) than butter.
Those two items appear in lots of prepackaged foods, and advertising is not very helpful (low cholesterol does not mean low saturated fat). There is also no regulation for the phrase "low cholesterol." That is pretty much left up to the advertiser. You have to look at what's in the box, and what's on the nutrition panel.
At first that meant a lot of long shopping trips (reading everything). Now not so much, plus since we live in a simpler time and place now, there aren't sixty million different products jumping out of the supermarket shelves screaming for attention (buy me).
But it doesn't mean we eat a bland diet. Just about all herbs and spices have no cholesterol.
Thankfully herbs an spices have no cholesterol. I don't use any processed foods, cooking everything from scratch, nor do I use canned fruits or vegetables. When my budget gets a little thin, I make popcorn without salt or fat and that seems to fill up the empty places. Thanks for your information and I will use the suggestions all of you make. Thanks.