Lower Your Genetically High Cholesterol – Eat the Mediterranean Way

As a heart healthy nutrition author, educator and consultant with a family history of heart disease (I jokingly blame it on  my mother, and her mother, and her mother, but it’s really my French Canadian heritage.) I have spent my adult life trying to lower my cholesterol. Eating a vegetarian diet usually leads to a plummeting cholesterol level, but not mine. Losing weight – ditto.  Some people consider statin drugs a miracle; but the ones I could take didn’t lower my cholesterol and the ones that worked caused too many side effects.  I am not alone here, many of us have a genetically high cholesterol level. After several years of research I have devised a plan that works for me and hopefully will work for you too. Step One – Eat Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Diet is based on a few simple principles; eat whole foods, enjoy your friends and family, relax with the occasional glass of wine. It is not a temporary “diet” to follow until you lose weight. It’s a lifestyle, a healthy way to live well. It consists of whole grain breads, plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, fats in the form of olive oil or nuts, and small amounts of cheese, fish, poultry, eggs, and even less red meat.  It is rich in greens and dishes are flavored with herbs and spices instead of fat, salt, and sugar.

The Mediterranean Diet is full of carbohydrates (numerous studies have shown that the healthiest people in the world eat the most carbs) so forget that whole crazy Adkins fad. The key is to eat quality carbs. Think whole grain (oats, whole wheat, cornmeal, popcorn, brown rice, quinoa, etc). Pasta, with vegetables, nuts, and olive oil is actually a healthy dinner choice. Dessert is usually fruit and people who live in the Mediterranean region eat more fruit than any place else on earth.

The Mediterranean Diet does not adhere to the “low-fat” craze that we espouse here in the US. But the main source of fat is olive oil, not the butter or hydrogenated fats that are so common here.  Protein is also primarily found in the form of beans and nuts with lesser amounts of fish and poultry. Red meats are kept for special occasions.

Don’t underestimate the importance of enjoying meals with others and socializing. A healthy life (and cholesterol level) is not just based on an eating plan. Embrace the Mediterranean approach and turn off the TV while eating! Interact with your family and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.  Less stress leads to improved mental and physical health – including a lower cholesterol level.

This is just a quick over view of the Mediterranean Diet. If you are interested in more information (and in the Tri-Cities area) join my Mediterranean Diet class on Wednesday night. Sign up at Kennewick Community Education.  A wonderful source of all things Mediterranean is Oldways. Check out their website here. Lots of heart healthy tips and recipes can be found in my book, The New Contented Heart Cookbook (30% off this month, only $7 per copy) or check out my coaching services.

I’ll continue sharing my “cholesterol lowering” story all this month in honor of American Heart Month and would love to hear your stories too. Do you struggle with a genetically high cholesterol level? How do you manage your level?

Here’s my favorite Hummus recipe to get you started. Hummus is a great appetizer with whole grain crackers or a delicious sandwich base with raw spinach, sliced tomatoes and chopped olives. Yummm.

In a food processor combine:

  • 2 cups cooked, drained garbanzo beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

Comments (1)

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  1. Great diet, indeed. I haven’t ever tried it but I think I have to. Thanks for the info.

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