Dear Ask The Doctor: Six weeks ago my doctor told me my cholesterol was high and to change my diet. I already avoided fried foods but I cut out all candy, only ate low fat foods, ate more fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. To my dismay, my cholesterol actually increased. How can this happen if I was eating the prescribed low fat diet?
Dear Patient: High blood cholesterol levels can be hereditary. Stress can also increase cholesterol levels. There are a number of foods that contain saturated fat or trans fat; if you had those kinds of fat that could be causing it. If you were having salads and the dressings you preferred were cream-based (ranch, caesar), then that can also increase your cholesterol levels. If you are really bothered with the high cholesterol levels you are having, incorporate exercise in your regimen. Exercise coupled with dietary changes can have dramatic declines in cholesterol levels. In my personal opinion, six weeks is too soon to re-test cholesterol levels. Try to exercise and continue eating healthy (avoid cream based dressings and use vinaigrettes instead), then after 3 – 6 mos, request your doctor to repeat blood cholesterol tests. I do hope I have appeased your concern and take care always.