Narrator: Ron Gordon makes sure he snacks on heart healthy nuts and fruits to lower his cholesterol. That wasn't always the case.
Ron Gordon: Just a lot of unhealthy foods, A lot of fast foods, quick meals french fries or fried chicken, fried pork chops.
Narrator: That diet, combined with a lack of exercise, stress, and too many after work drinks, finally caught up with him.A year later, he still finds the memory upsetting.
Ron Gordon: I couldn't breathe—was having chest pains. I was at work and uh, they rushed me to the emergency room. They said my heart rate was only 3%, my liver and kidneys were shutting down…
Narrator: Surgery for his congestive heart failure found a 6 inch blockage. Today he has a stent, and a whole new way of life.
Ron Gordon: Oatmeal in the morning instead of ham and eggs. More whole grains, fiber that I need. Increased amount of fresh vegetables and fruits.I got to learn to read the labels, looking for trans fats, looking for sodium….
Lawrence Sperling, MD: We do know that a diet high in fiber, a diet that contains things that we call plant sterols or stanols, diets that have soy, handfuls of nuts,omega-3 fats these all do have cholesterol lowering properties
Narrator: Plant sterols, or phytosterols, occur naturally in fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, seeds and vegetable oils.They work by blocking absorption of cholesterol in the intestines Studies show they can reduce bad cholesterol by up to 15%. It's hard to get enough of them naturally,so they are often added to foods as a supplement. Soluble fiber is key because it soaks up cholesterol, allowing the body to get rid of it.You need at least 25 to 30 grams a day…most Americans only get 14. Whole grain breads, brown rice and oatmeal are examples of soluble fiber critical to a cholesterol lowering diet,but you might not have considered this addition—flax seed.
Paige Hall, RD: Flax seed is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.The omega 3 oils are kind of the super oils. They help get the LDL—the lousy cholesterol down.They also help lower triglycerides—omega-3s are the only thing you can add to your diet to help get triglycerides down.
Narrator: Ron Gordon knows all about triglycerides, one of the blood fats that cause heart disease. He had a level of…
Ron Gordon: 1040 which is very very high. With the diet and exercise I'm doing now I got it from that to 105 in three months.
Narrator: Which brings us to a key truth: diet alone will not lower cholesterol. It has to be combined with weight loss and lifestyle adjustments, including exercise.For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.