The Hard Facts About Cholesterol

lower-cholesterolGetting the facts about cholesterol can be confusing, but here are the best points that I share from information provided by my most trusted  natureopathic professionals:

First of all, we need cholesterol to be healthy.  Cholesterol is absolutely essential in keeping our cellular membranes strong, for producing vitamin D within our bodies, and also for producing hormones that help us manage stress, just to name a few of its vital roles in keeping us well.

Bottom Line:  LDL and HDL are not types of cholesterol!

If you have family members or friends who are on cholesterol-lowering drugs and are not aware of the information that you will read here, please consider passing it along.  The general public needs access to this information; conventional health care systems just aren’t providing it.

1.     Cholesterol is not a dangerous substance in your blood, it is something that you need to be healthy.  High cholesterol itself does not cause heart disease!

2.     People who have low blood cholesterol have the same rates of heart disease as people who have high blood cholesterol.

3.     The cholesterol found in your blood comes from two sources: cholesterol in food that you eat and cholesterol that your liver makes from other nutrients.

The amount of cholesterol that your liver produces varies according to how much cholesterol you eat.  If you eat a lot of cholesterol, your liver produces less.  If you don’t eat much cholesterol, your liver produces more. This is why a low cholesterol diet does not typically decrease a person’s blood cholesterol by more than a few percent.

4.     Drugs that solely lower your cholesterol do not decrease your risk of dying from heart disease, nor do they increase your lifespan.  These drugs pose dangers to your health and may decrease your lifespan. Statin drugs actually cause neuropathy-of both thick and thin nerve fibers.  If someone you know has been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and they are on cholesterol lowering medicines, that could very well be the cause.

5.     Statins do reduce the risk of heart disease in some patients where the cholesterol total number is 300 or higher, but through mechanisms that are not related to lower blood cholesterol.  Alarmingly, statins like Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, and Lescol are known to stimulate cancer in rodents as well as what was described above.

What about HDL and LDL?

Well, here are some facts about LDL and HDL that the vast majority of people are surprised to learn:

·        LDL and HDL are lipoproteins that transport cholesterol through your blood circulatory system.

·        LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein, and HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein.

·        LDL is often mistakenly thought of as being bad cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to your arteries.

·        HDL is often mistakenly referred to as good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol away from your arteries (to your liver).

·        LDL and HDL carry the same cholesterol.

Guidelines for Healthy HDL, LDL, Total Cholesterol, and Triglyceride Levels

The fact is that 75 % of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels.  So, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol.

  • Reduce grains and sugars in your diet.  You can eat “whole grain” (better than whole wheat) and get your sugars only from fruits or Stevia/Agave as much as possible.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high quality,  Omega-3 such as Krill Oil or the purest form of Omega 3 from companies like Carlson or Nordic Naturals or Metagenics. Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil is also good.
  • Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats as appropriate for your nutritional type.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate high fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Keep your body stress under check. Whether you do relaxation exercise or Yoga or just deep breathing, try to relax at least 20 minutes daily. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.

1.   Ideally, it’s best to have a blood cholesterol level of over 150 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L). But if your blood cholesterol level is lower than this, so long as you are eating a nutrient-dense, plant-centered diet and not suffering from any health challenges, there is likely no cause for concern.

Low cholesterol over the long term may lead to depression, increased risk of stroke, and numerous problems related to hormonal imbalances. If you are not getting enough vitamin D from your diet, having low cholesterol may lead to vitamin D deficiency, as sunlight creates vitamin D in your body by acting on cholesterol found in your skin.

2.    Ideally, your HDL/total cholesterol ratio should be above 25%. Generally, the higher this ratio, the better. If this ratio is 10-15 percent or lower, there increased risk of eventually experiencing a heart attack.

3.     Ideally, it’s best to have a triglyceride/HDL ratio of 2.0 or lower.

4.     If your HDL/total cholesterol and triglyceride/HDL ratios are in the ranges listed above, and you are eating mainly undamaged cholesterol, having a total cholesterol of more than 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L) most probably isn’t a cause for worry. In fact, even people whose genetics cause them to have total cholesterol above 350 mg/dL (9.0 mmol/L) have been shown to have no elevated risk of heart disease as long as their ratios are fine and they stay away from eating damaged cholesterol.

So What Else Can You Do?

Rather than focus just on the numbers from your latest blood test, your health is best served by:

1.   Ensuring regular intake of a wide variety of nutrient-dense plant foods (vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and small amounts of nuts and seeds).

2.   Ensuring regular intake of healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, olives, coconuts, organic eggs, and perhaps some cold water fish on occasion.

3.   Minimizing intake of animal foods that have been highly processed and/or exposed to high cooking temperatures.

4.    Striving to live a balanced life that includes adequate rest, physical activity, exposure to fresh air and sunlight (without getting burned), meaningful relationships, and a sense of purpose.

Please note: Some organizations cite various studies that indicate that low-fat and low-cholesterol diets are healthier than diets that include generous amounts of healthy fats and undamaged cholesterol. The problem with these studies, as I see it, is that they don’t make a distinction between damaged vs. undamaged fat and cholesterol. This is an extremely important distinction; there’s a huge difference between eating lightly cooked organic eggs vs. a well done steak several times a week for many years.  YOU CAN SAFELY EAT 7 EGGS PER WEEK WITH YOLK if you don’t have a very high LDL level.  Egg yolks contain important nutrients that are good for you – FREE RANGE CHICKEN EGGS ONLY!

The Nutrition Advisor/

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© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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