Raise Your Good Cholesterol

Raise Your Good Cholesterol

Our insurance provider has us do these “Wellness checks” where we go in, they take down vital info (blood pressure, BMI, etc) and then tell you where you need to improve. Last week Sam and I went, and it turns out I got “perfect scores”. Woo!

In fact, the nurse was like, “Whatever you are doing, you have the best scores I’ve seen all day…ALL week, in fact! Keep doing it.”

This is even more amazing considering that a few years ago I had pre-hypercholesterolemia (basically not quite high, but almost). My BP was 140/110 (not great) and I was about 35 pounds overweight. Once I went plant-based, I’ve reversed ALL of my bad scores–my BP is now 105/70 and my cholesterol was great. My overall was low. My HDL or “good” cholesterol was right on normal levels.

Sam’s scores were also really good, EXCEPT his HDL was a little low. Now, since his overall cholesterol was also low, it’s not like, dangerous, but HDL protects your heart, and removes bad cholesterol from your bloodstream.

So we decided to go through both our diets to see what we were doing differently to end up with different scores. There are a couple things Sam’s going to add to his diet:

  1. Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

I tend to snack on pumpkin seeds. I keep them in my desk at work. I work at a school, and there are peanut allergies, so our school has to be peanut-free. Lucky for me, I enjoy sunflower and pumpkin seeds, so I reach for them often.

  1. Almonds

I eat almonds pretty regularly–they’re easy and filling, and offer a lot of protein. Sam eats them too, but he’s going to stock up on a big vat of homemade trail mix–almonds, dairy-free choco chips, craisins, dried cherries and pumpkin seeds. You can also get almonds with flavors–barbecue, wasabi, sriracha.

  1. Beans & Chickpeas

I’m a hummus nut. Yup. I’m that girl that always brings hummus to the party.  I love making my own, and I also buy it frequently, and keep it in my little desk fridge at work. It’s perfect for dipping pretzels, carrots, crackers. I also love extra spicy hummus! Nom! I get hummus on my bagels instead of cream cheese. Basically, I eat it, like, every day. So, Sam’s going to ramp up his hummus intake.

I also eat a lot of beans, lentils and legumes. We both have dishes that include beans like cholent, chickpea curry, minestrone soup, and naked burrito bowls. So we’re going to try to keep beans on the menu at least a few times a week.

  1. Flax Seed

Sam is a “smoothie guy”. Every morning he makes a power smoothie with almond milk, Vega powder, bananas and fruit. It’s a no brainer that he can easily ramp up his Omega 3’s by adding some flax seed to his smoothies. We found some packets for $.69 at the store that have at least three days worth of flax seed in each.

He’s also going to add hemp seeds and chia seeds to his smoothies. We found these great KIND Raspberry Chia Breakfast Bars for the mornings when he just needs to grab something quickly to go with his smoothie (he usually has a peanut butter sandwich or these baked granola energy bars).

  1. Avocado

So, we’re both avocado people (who isn’t these days?), but I have to admit that the last couple times I’ve bought six packs of avocados at Costco, I’ve let them go bad because I haven’t used them fast enough. Today we added avocado to our sandwich at lunch with Tofurky slices and vegan mayo and it was awesome!

I’m going to try to add some avocado slices to our meals, enjoy them on salads (along with some pepitas and seeds) and try to focus on boosting that HDL in our diets! Sometimes with a plant-based diet getting a full spectrum of nutrients can be hard, and admittedly we occasionally slack off and go for quick meals (that aren’t super healthy). It’s time to refocus and boost that HDL!

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