dr bob, a once aspiring mathematical physicist reduced to teaching unenthusiastic undergraduates that dreaded C-word (calculus), came from working class roots. Before going off to his carpenter/builder day, Dad always used to make himself a big bowl of Quaker Oats the old fashioned way, with boiling water on the stovetop. Occasionally bob would go for some weekend farina, a much smoother product, but that lumpy oatmeal never really appealed to him. Later in life another dreaded C-word changed this attitude. Not the Big C, but its little brother "cholesterol", elevated levels of which can lead to fatal heart disease. Or maybe not.
But in spite of the truckloads of oatmeal Dad ingested over his adult life, that dreaded cholesterol took him out anyway, although he had a 13 year reprieve after the first heart event at 53, a milestone year which is just around the corner for bob. And the family physician had counseled some action at the mid-century mark before moving on to Beverly Hills for a better life in a place other than "Pennsylvaniathe state that loves you back" while continuing to increase malpractice insurance premiums. Apparently one of the many problems that afflict our backward state.
Just saying no to cholesterol lowering drugs from Big Pharma, bob decided to try to make some nutrition adjustments. Since ani was also cutting back on bad carbs, compensating for this reduction was already going in the right direction, but with all the press oats had been getting for a decade, giving morning oatmeal a try seemed like more than just a throwback to a family tradition: it seemed like a good choice to help balance the diet. Even the US official food pyramid was finally realizing which way the wind was blowing in the new millennium.
Starting with the package recommended dose of 1/2 c, for which all the nutrition info is calculated, bob found it too much once dressed up with the half-banana and fruit-flavored yogurt (usually peach) topped off by another cholesterol weapon: walnuts. Too filling, after taking into consideration the 5 g fiber toasted whole wheat muffin (plain) and the glass of juice. Lowering to 1/4 c cuts the benefits from the oats in half, but 1/4 c is better than zero. It seems impossible to actually eat all the daily recommendations from the food pyramid anyway: the alternative is to try balancing out what does actually get ingested on a regular basis.
After a year of higher fiber intake and better average carb quality and increased regular exercise on the gazelle machine, the new cholesterol numbers had only moved in the right direction a few points. What to do. Back to bob's original physician, who suggests a relatively new test: the carotid artery scan. Bad cholesterol numbers are only a POSSIBLE indication of trouble ahead. Without any other negative indicators (besides a father who dropped at 67 and his father who dropped at 63, at least saving themselves from the need for long term care insurance), there was no guarantee that the arteries were clogging up. The carotid arteries in the neck are big and accessible to an ultrasound examination coupled to high tech physics-intense machinery that checks out the situation. Like the canaries in the coal mines, but PETA friendly in that no animals need die in the testing. The test clears bob to continue just saying no to cholesterol lowering drugs. For now. But this oatmeal regimen is pretty tasty. No going back.