Friday, August 6, 2010

From High to Healthy Cholesterol and a Field Trip to Candle Cafe

The proof is in the vegan pudding . . .

I've got some fantastic news. The results of my blood work came back this week and over the course of the past year, my cholesterol has gone from 231 (considered borderline high) to 147! Wow! You can't believe how happy this makes me.  After years of thinking that I was doomed to taking cholesterol lowering medication because my mom has high cholesterol (incidentally, she is NOT overweight) and takes medication for it, I now see that cholesterol level is within my power to manage.  Thank you Esselstyn family!

Here are some of the details about cholesterol: total cholesterol above 240 mg/dL is considered “high risk.” Total cholesterol below 150 mg/dL is the total cholesterol level seen in cultures where heart disease is essentially nonexistent. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL ("happy" cholesterol) and LDL ("lousy" cholesterol).

LDL cholesterol can build up on the inside of artery walls, contributing to artery blockages that can lead to heart attacks. Higher LDL cholesterol levels mean higher risk. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol because it helps prevent arteries from becoming clogged. Higher HDL cholesterol levels generally mean lower risk.

My HDL cholesterol remained virtually unchanged over the year. It went from 50 to 51 (60 mg/dl is considered "best", I am in the "better" range). The enormous change came from the lowering of my LDL, from 181 all the way down to 96 (I went from being "borderline high" to "ideal").

I think the numbers speak for themselves. You can call this way of eating "fat free vegan" (a misnomer really) or "plant strong." I call it "miraculous"!

And on a less scientific note, I dragged my family to Candle Cafe in New York City a few weeks ago. We were in the tri-state area for a wedding and I was jonesing to go there after reading the incredible reviews of this restaurant and knowing how beloved it is. If you are already a vegan, you know what a relief it is to eat at a vegan restaurant as opposed to a standard restaurant.

It was hot as heck in The City and my kids were acting up, but we made it through the experience alive. Thank the universe that my friend Lisa from college met us there though, or I would have thought the whole trip was a waste. It just wasn't that good. And I am not a picky or extremely discerning eater.

Our waitress recommended the Cajin Seitan Sandwich, which I ordered and which was very tasty, but I was disappointed that it was served on a giant white bun. I mean, come on! But in the interest of fairness, the wrap sandwich that Lisa ordered and the Shepard's Pie that my daughter had were also good.

The truly disappointing dish was the Indian Plate (sweet potato curry, chick pea masala, yellow basmati rice, date-raisin chutney, cabbage salad and parata bread). I was so pumped up to taste how the Indian food at the restaurant would compare with the Indian food that I prepared at home using the Candle Cafe recipes.  I was shocked at my experience. The whole plate of food just looked and tasted like bad leftovers. What a bummer. At least I know that I don't have to travel to New York for great vegan food--it's accessible right in my own kitchen!


Jill said...

I was planning on heading there next time I was in NYC, now maybe I'll skip it. What an awesome feeling to realize your own vegan cooking is better than a restaurant's!

Btw, my real reason for commenting is to thank you for the kale butter recipe. its amazing and I can't believe I didn't try it sooner! I've been enjoying it all week on top of sprouted grain toast, in my green smoothies, and as a salad topping. Thanks again!

Wendy said...

Jill, I'm so glad that you mentioned the kale butter. Do you know that I forgot about it? That happens with me because my brain is always so focused on the next great thing that I am going to test out for you!

Anyway, I'm going to have to make myself some kale butter this weekend!

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