Vegging Out Can Boost Health

by DavalosMcCormack on June 25, 2009

It’s amazing how something as simple as a number can really bum you out.

Shirley’s been in the dumps a bit lately because of one number, her cholesterol. It’s nothing really serious, it’s just a tad  higher than she would like. It’s not even as if it’s broken down into HDL/LDL, the good and bad cholesterol – which is a shame because she always has a great ratio of the good stuff to the bad.

Anyway, it’s got her bummed because she works so hard at staying in shape and healthy and this one number is refusing to confirm that.

It’s interesting to me because all the other evidence that she’s in great shape – the fact that she looks terrific, her skin is glowing, her eyes are shining, her weight is good, she exercises regularly and her diet is really good – all of a sudden none of that seems to count. That’s all pushed into the background by this one number.

The good news is that numbers can be changed. The better news is that numbers like a high cholesterol level can be changed without having to take any medication.

A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that by changing your diet you can change your cholesterol level. Nothing tremendously new in that but it’s always good to get these reminders that we have it in our power to improve our own lives.

In the study, researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, found that overweight individuals who ate a low-calorie, low-carb diet that was high in plant-based proteins not only lost weight but they also saw improvements in their blood cholesterol levels and reductions in other heart disease risk factors.

The diet increased their HDL/good cholesterol and lowered the LDL/bad cholesterol. It also helped lower levels of other blood fats that have been linked to heart disease.

The diet itself was pretty straight forward. It involved vegetable proteins from soy and nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals and vegetable oils.

Shirley didn’t wait for this latest study to come out to start making changes in her diet. She cut back on red meat – something she really loves – and now hardly has any butter or cheese (and she really really loves cheese) and uses soy milk or low-fat milk in tea or on cereal. Plus she is eating lots more fruit than she used to, and enjoying it too.

They are relatively small changes, but over time they can have a big impact. Let’s hope so. I want her to forget that pesky number and concentrate on a more important one. Her number one. Namely moi. Me. Coz let’s face it. Ultimately this is all about me.

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