Photo: Karen Swanson
My name is Karen Swanson and in 2011, I was a chocolate/ice-cream-aholic with a newly diagnosed high-cholesterol problem. I’ve had to adapt. OK, cope.

Originally, I thought the fact that I exercise a fair amount and keep my weight in check was enough. That since I am pretty fit, I could enjoy my truly-not-enormous bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream every night without worry. Apparently, not so much.

Because my cholesterol, which had hovered at the 200 mark for years, had finally swung into danger territory, and my doctor wanted to put me on a statin.

I wanted to blame peri-menopause. Or my bad genes (high cholesterol runs in my family). But I couldn’t. Well I can—because those are factors—but clarity struck. I could not keep pretending that my ‘not the best’ eating habits were okay.

At the time, my teenage son was concerned. His vegetable repertoire consisted solely of broccoli and he was not interested in expanding. My husband’s palate is far more extensive so he did not share the same concern. He continues to be supportive as long as not too much eggplant is involved.

I launched this blog to both learn more about cholesterol and hold myself accountable about eating and exercise—the two key elements to lowering cholesterol naturally. It’s worked pretty well as I’ve been able to stay off statin medications.

And I was approached by Callisto Media to write a book:  The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan: 4 Weeks to Cut Cholesterol and Improve Heart Health was published in January 2018.

That book did so well, Callisto Media hired me to write another book. The 30-Minute Low-Cholesterol Cookbook: 125 Satisfying Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle will hit bookstores in late September, 2019.

You can read more information about my books on my Cookbooks page.

For more about me…like where I went to school (Bucknell and Harvard Business School) and my professional marketing background (Procter & Gamble, Pfizer/Warner-Lambert, VC backed internet startup) please visit my business site, www.nausetpartners.com.

9 thoughts on “About

  1. I completely agree with your mission to avoid statins. I was speaking to a cardiologists a few years ago .. and he told me that eventually the “standards” for statins will be pushed to such a point that EVERYONE will receive recommendations to be on statins. So just keep that in mind!

    A little more exercise and vegetables never hurt anyone though 🙂 but don’t give up the burgers!

    Hope you are doing well!

  2. Karen,
    I am right there with you….My brother (age 50) went on statins a year ago and had some not so nice side effects—-numbness, tingling in legs, feet and hands —to the point he though he might have MS! When he read the “fine print” that comes with the prescription he was stunned. It was all in the “potential side-effects” paragraph. Having said that, my brother-in-law has been on meds for a few years (he is 47) and having no ill effects. I applaud your efforts to give the lo-co diet an exercise a try. I have consistently had chol. levels in the 160’s until my late 40s….now I am above 200 and work out every day. Clearly diet it the key!! I look forward to following you (you have inspired me too!) and checking out some of your recipes.

  3. Genetics is a bitch. I feel your pain but went through my Ben & Jerry’s withdrawal almost 20 years ago when I was first warned of the dangers of my counts. Definitely have periods where I go completely off the lo-co diet, this weekend being a good example. Too much cheese, too much desserts, too much meat. Aren’t salami and corn beef lo-co options?
    I had a very similar reaction to statins as Elaine’s brother did and still convinced they screwed up my calf muscles for life, so that is not an option right now. Next check-up in a month and I dread the follow-up phone call with Dr. O where we discuss this whole thing.

  4. Karen,
    I am enjoying the blog. Fortunately for me, genetics (since I am your brother), does not appear to be effecting me as I just had my cholesterol checked and it is fairly good. However, my LDL was slightly raised and stress (fancy that) recently caused my blood pressure to raise such that since January I have been exercising almost daily (run about 5 miles per day on a treadmill now) and eat nothing but fruit and veggies at work – drink green tea (Ugh I miss coffee – however was drinking about 6 plus cups per day…) as I refuse to go on BP medicine. Happy to note my BP has dropped significantly and hopefully my Cholesterol will improve as well. As to me being alergic to chocolate, I do not each much ice cream anyway. Good Luck – I may try some of your recipes. MB had bad results on cholesterol and she was an “ice-cream-aholic” as well. She changed to non-fat frozen yogurt and made a few other adjustments and her cholersterol dropped significantly as well.

  5. I am enjoying your comments, this has recently become a problem for me too. I’m trying to sort through it, and it is nice to the experiences of others who do not want to resort to prescriptions. I am going to try chinese herbs, as a friend had very good response to them. I’d like to exhaust all options before I get pharma involved!
    Thank you,

  6. I was so happy to find your website. I am you…I workout every day, eat well, am pretty lean, inherited high cholesterol and don’t want to take statins. I am a fit, young, 57 with mild hypertension. I’ve been eating low carb-high protein for the past year, doing a body experiment to see how it would affect my cholesterol. Bummer for me…although I have comfortably kept off an 11 lb. weight loss, my LDL and total cholesterol numbers have gone up. Good news is my triglycerides are super low. So, I need to figure out how to keep a low carb diet and reduce my LDL numbers too. Tough to do! I’m thinking of taking the cheese way down, and the processed meats, and trying to add plant sterols (margarine or Centrum Heart Multivitamins. I can’t find on your posts about plant sterols. I’m just really bummed because all the books that recommend Adkins or Jorge Cruise-type diets swear that your cholesterol won’t go up eating that way.

  7. Your suggestions to do for people who have high cholesterol is very helpful and I learned alot I am taking a pill my Doctor put me on and she also wants me to control my diet and exercise. I was glad to see that walkling is a good way to get down cholesterol since I tend to do alot of walking I have totally given up eggs and I am trying to eat more vegetables and and less fast food things. Thanks again.

  8. I discovered your website today in a Washington Post article. The first recipe I clicked on (creamy yogurt) was from the New York Times and had both whole milk AND cream in it! What is this doing on a lie cholesterol diet website????

  9. Hi – Thank you for your comment and you raise an interesting point. Certainly, the recipe should NOT be made with cream (ingredient list says it’s optional!) But you are correct, it’s made with whole milk, and that is to be avoided, so I get why that is odd for it to be included. However, this is actually a healthy food choice overall (and is pretty heart-healthy too: the saturated fat in one serving of this homemade yogurt is just 3 grams, and it delivers a lot of protein and calcium, has no added sugars and is low in sodium. So you are totally correct that it seems like it would not be a heart-healthy choice, but it actually is (especially versus say a sandwich with mayo and meat!) Your point is a good one because that info is not listed on this recipe PDF and I’ll go back and clarify! Thank you for taking the time to comment and I hope you give this and/or other recipes to try!

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