Cheryl Halper’s mind reeled in confusion as her doctor reviewed the results of her annual physical in July 2019. Her total cholesterol was 265, much higher than the recommended level of below 200. And her LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, had surged to 155, well above the recommended target for women of less than 100.
The Temecula, California, then 57-year-old thought she was doing everything possible to maintain heart health. She had never smoked, didn’t drink alcohol, and exercised daily. A vegetarian, Cheryl ate a diet rich in fruit, nuts, and vegetables, and she avoided eating junk food, plus fatty or sugary foods that contribute to high cholesterol. Yet at her last few physicals, her cholesterol had been inching up, and now her numbers had soared to dangerous levels.
“How can this be?” Cheryl asked. The doctor explained that genetics and menopause can both increase a woman’s risk of high cholesterol—even if she exercises, maintains a healthy weight and eats a heart-healthy diet. He recommended she start taking cholesterol-lowering medication, emphasizing her risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
His intensity and concern was frightening. Still, Cheryl was fearful of taking medication. She had read about possible liver damage, and recent studies had even linked statins to increased blood sugar and a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in postmenopausal women.
There has to be something else I can do first, she thought and set out to find her miracle.
What’s beetroot juice?
Cheryl started researching possible natural treatments and discovered data that supported drinking beetroot juice could lower cholesterol. Beetroot contains phytosterols, which are structurally similar to cholesterol, and when consumed, compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines, decreasing the amount of cholesterol in your blood, especially “bad” LDL.
Cheryl initially started making her own beetroot juice, but she quickly grew frustrated when she discovered how costly — and messy — juicing can be. So she started researching alternatives and was happy to learn that beetroot powder offers the same health benefits as juicing.
How should you take it?
Cheryl ordered beetroot powder (Buy on Vitacost, $13.19) and started adding a four-gram scoop, or about one teaspoon, to her morning smoothie. For variety, Cheryl also sometimes put the powder in almond milk or mixed it with eight to 10 ounces of water in a shaker bottle to hydrate after her morning hike.
Six months later, Cheryl returned to the doctor for a checkup. To both their joy, her LDL was down to 98 and her total cholesterol was 185, where it’s remained. “I am so happy to have found an easy, natural remedy to keep my heart healthy,” the now 59-year-old beams. “It’s wonderful knowing I’ll be around to watch my grandchild grow up!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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