Living in Japan, employers often send their workers for a yearly medical. The most common check I’ve had is drinking a barium meal and having my stomach photographed. My understanding is that because of their salty diet, including miso soup, soy sauce and pickled vegetables, the Japanese have relatively high rates of stomach cancer.
In the summer of 2010, I was working for the local city which meant I was able to get a full medical check up. This wasn’t prior to being employed, rather, I think it’s just a perk of the job. It meant I got two mornings off work so I wasn’t complaining!
As you can see from my blood test results from 27 July 2010, my LDL score was 102.0 mg/dl. If you’re wondering what the year “22” means, it’s Heisei 22. This is the Japanese dating convention, indicating the length of the current emperor’s reign.
Blood Test Results 2010
At the time of this blood test, I was eating what I considered to be a healthy, balanaced diet, including fruits, vegetables, rice, fish, meat, eggs and dairy. I knew my diet could be improved, but I didn’t quite know how to do it. So I started watching as many documentaries and movies about health and nutrition as I could find. The one that had the most impact on me was Forks Over Knives. After watching it, I knew that it made sense for me to start to follow a whole foods, plant based diet. I realized that there were already millions of people eating this way and that it wasn’t really a question of willpower or restriction. It was instead going to be a journey where I could learn about the joys of plant based nutrition.
Sometime in September 2011 I stopped eating meat, fish, dairy, eggs and started to follow a whole food vegan diet. I’ll be honest with you, there are times that I do miss eating meat, like at Christmas when I see everyone tucking into roast turkey and in particular the stuffing, I used to love stuffing! Then again, I’m convinced that eating meat isn’t good for my health; it’s certainly not good for the animals; nor is it good for the environment. So even though it might taste good, there’s reason enough for me not to eat it. And to be honest, these reasons do a very good job of putting me off giving in to temptation.
My second set of blood test results come from December 2012. As you can see, my LDL cholesterol was at 79 mg/dl. To be honest, this is still a bit too high for my liking. I’m aiming to get it down to under 75 mg/dl. Over time, I’m sure I’ll get there one day.
Vegan Blood Test Results 2012
Since I only started eating a plant based diet in September 2011, I believe the drop of over 20 points happened over a 15 month period (from October 2011-December 2012). How did I manage to lower my cholesterol? Simply by becoming a vegan and basing my diet around whole, plant foods as well as taking regular exercise, in the form of running.
I’m not certain whether it’s the diet or exercise that deserves the credit for my improving cholesterol numbers. However, as I’m not conducting a medical experiment, it doesn’t really matter. Improving my diet as well as going running regularly seems to be effective at reducing my cholesterol scores. By continuing my current lifestyle, I hope to see greater improvements, over time, in my blood work.
Cholesterol is a Known Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease
My understanding of the science tells me that reducing LDL cholesterol to less than 75 mg/dl is best for long term heart health. Early on in the following video, titled Anything but LDL: Part 1, Plant Positive states:
Levels of total cholesterol and LDL bad cholesterol are probably the best risk factors for heart disease out there.
I’ve really enjoyed getting into new foods like quinoa and amaranth as well as eating more of foods that I already loved, like fruits and rice. A typical day for me is to start out with lots of fruit for breakfast. Something like a large banana smoothie with a couple of pounds of peeled bananas, or a load of orange and kale juice with over three pounds of peeled oranges really sets me up for the day.
Depending on the season, lunch may be hot or cold. When it’s warm, I usually go for more fruit, dates, grapes, peaches, persimmons or berries are some of my favourites. I’m not talking about a just a few pieces of fruit, I eat enough to feel like I’ve had a proper meal…because I have.
In the winter though, I normally cook something in my rice cooker. The recipes I post here are the ones I eat myself! It just depends how I’m feeling as to which one I decide to make. Then at dinner time, it’s usually another rice cooker based recipe.
As you can see, my diet is relatively simple, high in fruit, high in rice, with a reasonable amount of vegetables too. This is what works for me with regards to keeping my energy levels high throughout the day and, according to my blood tests, helping to reduce the amount of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol in my body.
Lower Cholesterol by Eating More Rice
I’m convinced eating more rice has had a role in the reduction of my LDL cholesterol. As a high carbohydrate, low fat, zero cholesterol food, it makes a great choice for those of us who want to be ethical vegans as well as healthy vegans at the same time!