Mimi Grant, cholesterol rate plummets
Professionally, I have been involved in health care leadership for a long time, serving as the leader of Adaptive Business Leaders’ (ABL) Healthcare division beginning in 1990, and serving on the board of Good Samaritan Hospital for the last seven years. And, I’ve worked hard throughout my life to do what I thought was eating healthfully and to keep myself physically in good shape. I rarely ate fast food and what meat I ate was mostly fish and chicken. But a few years ago, in annual checkups, my cholesterol went from 177, to 207, to 253 over a two year period. I was shocked by these numbers and the rapid increase with no noticeable change in my diet. About this time I heard my friend (and ABL Round Table member) John Tanner's story of his heart attack and subsequent research into a heart-healthy, whole plant diet. John provided me and other ABL members the Esselstyn book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Because of the totally unexpected change in my own cardiovascular health (evidenced by my accelerating cholesterol numbers), I was motivated. I read the book in one day.
That day was July 23, 2010; the next day I became a vegan. Of the many changes in my diet, the principal issue for me was dairy, and cheese in particular. I supplemented my initial reading with Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books, Eat to Live and Eat for Health, and have modified my vegan diet to try to make even more healthy choices about oils, sugar and salt. I enjoy vegan salads at Chipotle, for example. But at the end of their food-prep line are bags of tortilla chips—they are still my weakness. And while I always opt for the “kid’s size,” I’m still working on cutting back on the chips altogether.
After my diet change, two months later, my cholesterol dropped to 153, and my latest cholesterol reading, a couple of weeks ago, was 137. At its highest, my LDL (bad) cholesterol reading was 161, but my latest reading was 70. My biggest challenge remains travel—finding healthy choices in restaurants while traveling in foreign lands. I prefer salads, and whole grain rice and pasta but sometimes it is virtually impossible to find these choices (or request them in English) while on the road. I’ve also gotten much more assertive about “combining” things on the menu that can create a heart-healthy meal – and sending salads back when they still bring them out covered with cheese! Despite the challenges, I remain committed to eating a healthy plant-based diet and enjoying the longer life with better health that comes from it.