January 20, 2017

The Case for Cholesterol

by Amanda Box

I hate to burst your bubble. You’ve likely fallen prey to a hoax, a scam foisted on us by the medical community and Big Pharma. Western society has brainwashed you into believing you’re harboring a merciless killer in your body. I’m here to expose the truth! Cholesterol has been framed!!

Cholesterol, though demonized as the culprit behind heart disease, is not a bad guy. Instead, it is an important and necessary part of keeping you alive and healthy!

I promise you, cholesterol is not out to get you. Its existence in your body does not equal clogged arteries and heart attacks. Cholesterol has been presumed a killer, but it is just doing its job!

Cholesterol’s Role in our Body

Most people know cholesterol’s negative reputation. It is synonymous with heart disease and strokes. But no one talks about cholesterol’s positive aspects. We are led to believe that cholesterol is up to no good. But this perspective is nothing more than a fabrication! Let me begin pleading cholesterol’s case by calling your attention to its actual purpose in the human body.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance naturally manufactured in our liver. Though many see its fatty composition as a negative aspect, it has very important tasks! Cholesterol is so important to our cells that our lives literally could not exist without it!

Some of cholesterol’s most important roles in the human body include:

  • Manufacturing hormones
  • The formation of cell membranes
  • Vitamin D production
  • Digestion of fats via bile production
  • Forming memories and cognitive function

These important roles are vital to our health and well-being! Cholesterol’s existence is not a byproduct of a poor diet. Our body produces cholesterol in order to survive and function optimally!

The LDL to HDL Ratio

There is more evidence to defend cholesterol’s innocence. Let me debunk the myth that your total cholesterol count determines your risk of heart disease or stroke. Knowing the difference between LDL to HDL cholesterol numbers is important.

There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood: LDL and HDL.

  • LDL are low density lipoproteins
  • HDL are high density lipoproteins

Many label these two cholesterol lipoproteins as “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” These labels may sound dramatic, but it important to distinguish between the two types of cholesterol.

  • HDL is considered the “healthycholesterol. HDL’s job is to circulate the blood and take excess LDL cholesterol back to the liver. This keeps cholesterol from building up in your arteries. This lifesaving task is why we refer to HDL as the “good” cholesterol. HDL is also converted in the liver to bile acids, which help the digestion and absorption of fats.
  • LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. However, this isn’t entirely true. LDL has the important job of manufacturing hormones. LDL gets a bad rap because it can potentially build up in the arteries and contribute to atherosclerosis. However, with adequate levels of HDL in the blood, this risk greatly diminishes.

Your total cholesterol number has no value in determining your health risk. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times concerned people have told me their doctor said their cholesterol was too high.

I clearly remember Steve, who approached me in a fit of desperation to get his cholesterol lowered. I asked him how high his cholesterol was. He said his doctor told him it was 240 and that he needed to get his cholesterol under control. If not, he would be at risk for all kinds of health problems.

The very first thing I did was to assure Steve that it takes far more than a high total cholesterol number to put him at risk. Next, I asked what his HDL and LDL numbers were. It was after asking this question that I became frustrated with his doctor. Steve had absolutely no clue…and his doctor never told him!

Steve’s doctor voiced concern about his high total cholesterol count, but neglected to distinguish between his HDL and LDL levels!

Knowing the HDL and LDL ratio is crucial for determining if your cholesterol is too high. Steve had total cholesterol level was 240, but let’s look at his individual lipoproteins:

  • HDL level was 140
  • LDL level was 100

Steve’s “high” number was his HDL level. As I mentioned earlier, HDL does not clog arteries, but rather prevents them from clogging! A high amount of HDL actually lowers the risk of LDL deposits.

The American Heart Association considers Steve’s total 240 cholesterol number to be high. Without knowing the HDL and LDL levels, the total cholesterol number is useless for assessing health risk.

Here is a formula to calculate your health risk from cholesterol levels. Physicians like Dr. Mercola also recommend it.[1] The beauty of this formula is that it acknowledges your HDL levels as a true assessor of potential health risks.

Once you receive your bloodwork printout, you can easily perform this calculation to evaluate your health risk.[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]

True Cholesterol Risk Formula:

Take your HDL number divided by your total cholesterol and multiply by 100:

  • HDL / Total Cholesterol x 100

If the number is above 24, your cholesterol is just fine! You have plenty of HDL to keep your LDL level from doing any potential damage. Yet, if your number is below 24, it would be wise to take some steps to lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels.

High triglyceride levels are often used as an indicator for heart disease risk, as well. You can use a similar formula can for triglyceride blood work. Take your Triglycerides divided by your HDL and multiply by 100.

  • Triglycerides / HDL x 100

The number should be below 2.

There are two tests that are far better indicators for heart disease than your standard cholesterol count. I recommend you request the following tests along with your standard bloodwork.

C-reactive protein: This measures levels of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the root of nearly every disease, including heart disease and strokes. Higher levels of inflammation greatly increase the risk of plaque build-up in your arteries.

Lipoprotein a, also known as Lp(a): Lp(a) is carried on the LDL particle, and does its damage in the blood stream bound to LDL. High levels of Lp(a) increase your cardiac and stroke risk, so ask your doctor for it.

Low Cholesterol vs. Ideal Cholesterol

Finally, I am going to expose the truth behind what is an ideal cholesterol level. The medical community pushes striving for abnormally low cholesterol levels. Of course, the only way you can reach these low levels is by taking pharmaceutical drugs. How convenient for the drug companies! People must rely on statin drugs to have so-called healthy cholesterol levels!

Combining statin drugs with low cholesterol levels is not a remedy; it is a recipe for disaster. Statins pack a host of side-effects and low cholesterol levels can cause dangerous health problems!

If your doctor is recommending drugs to lower your cholesterol level as close as possible to 100, then I recommend finding another doctor.

Dramatically low levels of cholesterol are dangerous! Do not ignore this, even if your health history puts you at risk for heart problems. Low cholesterol levels can cause what you’re trying to prevent, including strokes![2]

To lower your stroke risk, aim for cholesterol numbers between 180-200. The further you decline below 180 or above 240, the higher your stroke risk becomes.

Low cholesterol has many other repercussions on your health. Some of the side-effects from low cholesterol include:

  • Imbalanced hormones
  • Low levels of vitamin D
  • Impaired digestion of fats
  • Poor memory
  • Lowered immunity
  • Increased risk for cancer[3]
  • Premature aging
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Depression

What’s more shocking is how low cholesterol is linked to violent behavior! This link between violent behavior and low cholesterol levels has been known for nearly thirty years! Some believe it is due to cholesterol’s connection with serotonin receptors in the brain.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for calming the brain and body. Lower levels of cholesterol can result in lower levels of serotonin. Without adequate serotonin in the brain, unnecessary aggression can be the result. Furthermore, several studies found statin drugs themselves lead to aggression.[4] [5]

Statins are one of the most dangerous prescribed drugs. There have been hundreds of studies proving that their side-effects are real, and quite frankly, all too common. Statins many side-effects include:

  • Lowered immunity
  • Loss of memory
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Anemia
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Nerve damage to hands and feet
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Increased risk of diabetes

In all honesty, I find it less risky to have high cholesterol numbers than take dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Thankfully, there are all-natural, 100% safe and effective ways to help you increase your HDL or lower your LDL levels!

Healthy Cholesterol Promoting Supplements

There are many natural supplements on the market today that claim to lower cholesterol. Finding what works can be difficult with the flashy marketing schemes that many companies use.

Not everything that claims to work, will work. Below is the list of supplements I have personally witnessed changing a person’s cholesterol for the better! Remember, it isn’t about lowering your total cholesterol number, but having enough HDL to keep it balanced.

Fish Oil

I believe fish oil should be part of everyone’s daily regime, from babies all the way to the elderly! It is one of the most superior supplements for not just healthy cholesterol levels, but total body health! Omega-3 fatty acids, like those from fish oil, have many benefits for the body, including:

  • Raising HDL and lowering LDL levels of cholesterol
  • Lowering triglycerides
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Preventing strokes
  • Reducing irregular heartbeat
  • Improving cognitive function (focus, concentration, memory, etc.)
  • Enhancing your mood and preventing depression
  • Lowers inflammation
  • And much much more

The downside is that many fish oils are oxidized or made with poor quality ingredients, and may actually cause health problems instead of solving them.

You cannot expect to buy a cheap fish oil product from your local big box store or pharmacy and reap health-promoting results. Shop at your local healthfood store and make sure that the label states that the oil is tested to be contaminant free. Ask if an independent lab has performed an analysis to measure the ingredients and confirm whether it lives up to the claims made by the manufacturer.

Fish oil can contain toxic chemicals like heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins, which can cause serious disease. A good manufacturing company will insist on a pure product and provide a certificate of analysis (COA).

I’m a big fan of Carlson’s Fish oil. Another excellent company with high quality fish oil products is Nordic Naturals. 

Garlic

Garlic is a fantastic all-natural remedy for healthy cholesterol levels. It contains the natural ability to lower LDL and triglycerides in the blood.

Studies have shown that less than half a clove (900 mg) of raw garlic a day can lower cholesterol by 9-12%.[6],[7] Raw garlic is best and can be added to olive oil salad dressings, or as a garnish on soups and sandwiches.

If you’re not a fan of garlic’s pungent flavor, try taking garlic in pill form.

Kyolic aged garlic is a fantastic choice because it is both odorless and very effective.

Recommended dosage: 2000-3000 mg a day for managing cholesterol.

healthy cholesterol promoting supplements
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Indian Gooseberry

Otherwise known as Amla, natural health practitioners sing the praises of Indian Gooseberry for its ability to lower LDL and increase HDL levels in the body.

It is naturally high in vitamin C, giving it many immune boosting properties, as well.

Himalaya makes a quality and reasonably priced Amla supplement available here.

Recommended dosage: 1000 mg a day for lowering cholesterol.

Forget the statins. Consider the power combo to regulate your cholesterol numbers. Natural supplements, combined with healthy diet and exercise, can guarantee to keep you out of health risk.

Why not Red Yeast Rice?

I want to note why I do not recommend red yeast rice as a natural cholesterol-reducing supplement.

When red yeast rice first rose to popularity, I often recommended it as an alternative to statin drugs. There was not a lot of research about how it worked so well. I assumed, like many others, that since it was naturally derived, that it was safe.

However, after researching it’s side-effects and how it works in the body, I have come to the conclusion that it produces some of the same hazards as the statin drugs it mimics, such as muscle pain, liver damage and decreased immunity.[8]

Red yeast rice contains monacolin, a substance also present in several statin drugs. This substance lowers cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme in your liver from manufacturing cholesterol. However, artificially suppressing cholesterol produces other side-effects, like stroke, depression and violence.[9]

Even though red yeast extract is naturally derived, I recommend avoiding red yeast rice. It isn’t an alternative to statin drugs; it is a statin drug!

I encourage you to adopt a fresh perspective about cholesterol. If you eat right and exercise regularly, then your cholesterol will do nothing more than its God-given job of keeping you alive and healthy. Your body does not make cholesterol to kill you!

The medical establishment may promote cholesterol’s bad reputation, but remember its important functions in your body! Cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D, manufacture hormones, build cell walls, and create bile salts that help you digest fat. I almost forgot, it helps your memory, too.

Your goal should never be to have the lowest level of cholesterol possible. Instead, shoot for a healthy HDL to total cholesterol ratio.

Try incorporating fish oil, garlic, and Indian gooseberry into your regime if cholesterol to balance your ratio.

Cholesterol is your friend, not your enemy. It’s time to release wrongly accused cholesterol from prison.

 

 

 

Amanda Box, N.D.
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Amanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

Sources:
[1] Dr. Mercola, “Total Cholesterol Almost Always Irrelevant to Heart Disease Risk,” January 2, 2008, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/cholesterol-irrelevant-to-heart-disease-risk.aspx.
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299064/
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899411
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9411859
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15028853
[6] AJ Adler and BJ Holub. Effect of garlic and fish-oil supplementation on serum lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in hypercholesterolemic men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 65, 445-450, 1997
[7] Stephen Warshafsky, Russell S. Kamer, Steven L. Sivak. Effect of Garlic on Total Serum Cholesterol-A Meta-Analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004.
[8] http://www.progressivehealth.com/does-it-really-work-better-than-lipitor.htm
[9] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/09/what-happens-when-your-cholesterol-goes-too-low.aspx

 

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