High cholesterol isn’t easy, nor is it fun


One day long ago (24 years or so), a certain obstetrician was about to begin yet another C-section. As he set about his work, another physician sat waiting and watching. I’m not sure what his technical job was but apparently he felt obligated to keep the expectant parents entertained and therefore, oblivious to the surgical procedure.

Since the doc has only seven minutes in which to extract the baby, this entertaining stuff didn’t require a lot of work, but Dr. Comedy had his act prepared. The husband found this whole gig highly amusing. The pregnant woman, on the other hand, simply wanted the whole thing over with. But…in the midst of this process, both heard one comment from the comedian — nothing funny, just a statement.

“Wow. There’s no fat in there. All that running has paid off.” Okay, this may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me it signaled that I must be healthy.

Hmmm…about one month later bloodwork appeared suspicious so I found myself in the waiting room of an internist. This guy — stern with nary a hint of a smile — sat and hmmmmmed over the reports. He ordered additional bloodwork and sent it off to various labs. It came back with the same result — cholesterol near 400. This he blamed on my hormones and insisted that I quit breastfeeding. A month or so later, the bloodwork was repeated and sure enough, said cholesterol had dropped to 230ish. Still high, but maybe we’d wait and see.

Well, fast forward 30 years. I’m still waiting for those hormones to revert to normal. In fact, they’ve probably veered of onto a whole new course. But the cholesterol remains high. Always has. Probably always will. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I — along with three of my four brothers and countless cousins on the Suter side — have genetically high cholesterol. Most of us are on the thin side, exercise regularly, eat well (i.e lots of veggies, fruit, lean protein, etc.) and do not fit the stereotypical “high cholesterol look.”

Some of us taken one of the various meds designed to lower the wrong stuff and raise the good stuff, while others rely on Omega 3, flax, niacin, and other non-chemical sources.

On the other hand, there is Mr. S, he of extremely low cholesterol who can eat whatever he darn well pleases. Make that “could”. A week ago, he came to me and said, “i’m going to show you something that will either make you laugh or will put me at your level.”  Recent bloodwork revealed that his cholesterol had shot way up there near mine. He was devastated.

Here’s the problem.  Having done this lowfat, eating right thing for most of my life, I know without thinking what I can and cannot eat. I’ve learned all the substitutions (i.e., applesauce for fat in recipes) and can find all hidden words like “hydrogenated” in that tiny print used for lists of ingredients.

But try to teach this stuff to someone. It’s not easy, and I don’t have a lot of patience with that kind of teaching. My solution was to buy “Controlling your cholesterol for dummies” or some similar title, hand it over and say “Read this. Then we’ll talk.”

We’re still talking. It’ll take awhile. In the meantime, I have enough sympathy to know that he misses stuff like cake and pie. So I baked one of his favorite cakes and presented it with one caveat: No more eating all of this at once.

Here’s the recipe:

Wacky Cake

1 c. white sugar (try reducing this to 3/4 c.)
1 1/2 c. flour (try 1 c. white, 1/2 c. whole wheat)
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix dry ingredients with a fork in the pan you expect to bake it in. Add (into 3 holes) 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 6 tbsp. canola or olive oil (or 6 tbsp. applesauce). Pour 1 c. cold water over all and mix with your fork. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  (You may double this for a sheet cake pan.)

The recipe includes this “icing”, but for obvious reasons, I prefer to sprinkle powdered sugar on the cake once it has cooled.

1/3 c. butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nuts
2 tbsp. water
Mix and pour over baked cake and broil until brown.

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5 responses to “High cholesterol isn’t easy, nor is it fun

  1. I read this just after eating a huge, heavy piece of chocolate chip cake and who knows what else in it (it was a gift) for breakfast. It did have oats in it so that must count for something right? I hope I’m not surprised like Fred someday. My dr. tells me I won’t die of heart disease. He says I’ll die of cancer. Funny guy, huh?

  2. Well, Mother’s former heart doc told her he wished he had her heart. So…go figure.

  3. Here are my suggestions: (1) oatmeal for breakfast; (2) grape juice and/or red wine; (3) flaxseed oil capsules; (4) fish oil capsules; (5) 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”) with some honey in a warmed cup of water 2 x daily; (6) exercise — now and then faster than “normal” to get that heart beating. Then relax and forget about cholesterol. Has anyone shown a close correlation with heart disease? After all, in some parts of the world folks eat high cholesterol diets yet don’t experience high levels of heart disease. And look at Mother, nearly 88 and she’s the chauffeur.

  4. Bummer!! It was very nice of you to make Fred cake. We need to set up baking lessons. I don’t bake much and I especially do not bake healthy when I do. I figure my lows (blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol) will eventually cave on me as well. We do share a few genetics, right? Maybe I can borrow your book if it does happen. =)

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      It would be fun to bake together. We’ll get Jo to help us! Does your Grandma or any of her kids have high cholesterol?

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