It Is So Easy to Have Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Have you ever wondered why so many people have high cholesterol? Have you ever wondered if it is truly wise for everyone to be on statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) when there are sure to be side effects?
Did you ever know that lowering your cholesterol to a healthy level is one of the easiest things to do naturally with delicious satisfying foods?
In my practice, I find this to be one of the most ridiculous health challenges. Everyone seems to have high cholesterol and it is one of the easiest things to fix and the results are immediate. So often, I have clients come to me with other serious health challenges such as cancer or diabetes etc… I get them on a healthy plan that includes diet and lifestyle improvements and those that follow my simple and enjoyable suggestions always come back to me and say “I can’t believe my cholesterol came down to normal so quickly and it was so easy!”
Why should we be so concerned when it is so easy to just pop a pill and the cholesterol is lowered? Well, first of all, these drugs are expensive and you are expected to stay on them the rest of your life! Business Week and other journals reported that statins are now “the single biggest market in the global $492 prescription drug business.”
Furthermore, according to Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. in his August 2004 Vol 1, No. 3 of The Blaylock Wellness Report titled “Cholesterol Drugs are Dangerous”, he states that “statin drugs have serious side effects. “These include depletion of the body’s essential energy molecule coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which can lead to congestive heart failure, extreme muscle weakness, neurological disorders and even death. And all statin drugs have been associated with causing or promoting cancer in experimental animals. This is especially important since millions of Americans have been advised to take these drugs for the rest of their lives.”
Cholesterol is actually an important part of your body’s chemistry and is required for normal development and functioning. It is helpful for healing and repair, regulating blood sugar, defending against infections, supports Vitamin D levels, helps with digestion and is critical for normal brain function. Your body has the ability to make all the cholesterol it needs and will try to regulate production based on your diet.
The concern with cholesterol is when your LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels are too high and you don’t have enough antioxidants in your diet to protect you. It is oxidized LDL from free-radical production that causes problems in your body and accumulation of plaque in your arteries. According to Dr. Blaylock, “The only reason statin drugs lower risk at all is because they have some antioxidant and anticoagulant properties. Still, safer and more powerful antioxidants are available as supplements and in healthy diets.”
Hopefuly you know that diet and lifestyle factors play a critical and significant role in heart health. Elevated oxidized cholesterol is corrected by simple dietary changes. The solution is so simple and the only side effect may be that you may lose weight, feel better and have more energy!
Here are some important and helpful tips to keep your cholesterol levels in check:
- Watch your fats. Two types of fat that are of particular concern are animal based saturated fats and trans fats (or hydrogenated fats). According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “The richest sources of saturated fat (fat that is usually solid at room temperature) in the diet are red meat and dairy foods.” Both of these also happen to be high in cholesterol. Trans fats, or any hydrogenated fats, (found in processed packaged foods) should be completely eliminated. Try wonderful plant based proteins (such as beans, nuts and seeds) and plant sources of calcium (such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds) as they have all the nutrients your body needs with healthy fats and without the cholesterol.
- Eat a diet that is high in fiber. Fiber comes only from whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds (foods grown from a plant). Fiber is key for assisting your liver in eliminating excess fat and cholesterol from your blood. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, soluble fiber specifically has the best “cholesterol-lowering effect.” Soluble fiber is found in many plant foods including whole grains such as oats and barley, legumes such as beans and peas, citrus fruits, apples, carrots and ground flax seed. “Increase intake of flax seed which studies have shown will reduce cholesterol”. Flax is also a great source of omega-3 fats which are good anti-inflammatory fats and are important for heart health. B-vitamins, such as niacin, are found in nuts like cashews and in whole grains and are also specifically helpful in lowering cholesterol.
- Eat a diet that is rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants, which again come from colorful plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, help to prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing. Antioxidants are so powerful in helping to prevent cancer and to reduce issues with aging, so there are many benefits to eating lots of colorful produce. Green Tea is another great source of antioxidants. Dr. Weil recently noted a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where researchers determined that consuming green tea reduced the LDL (bad) cholesterol without affecting the HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood.
- Eat a diet rich with whole plant foods and eat less sugar, processed foods and alcohol. By eating a diet rich with plant foods, you automatically are getting more fiber, healthy fats and more antioxidants in your diet as noted above. By doing this and limiting or eliminating sugar and processed foods in your diet, this will optimize your insulin levels. Since most of your cholesterol comes from the liver and the health of the liver is influenced by your insulin levels, eating a diet rich with whole foods will support healthy insulin levels and keep your cholesterol levels in check. Foods that increase your insulin levels will affect your risk of diabetes and will push your liver to produce more cholesterol which can lead to heart disease.
- Include fresh garlic regularly in your meals. Garlic is not only a powerful natural anti-bacterial food and one that is effective in fighting cancer, it has also been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. Learn to love garlic and onions as they provide great flavor and many health benefits.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a wonderful antioxidant that appears to benefit the heart in many ways. It helps protect against blood clots, maintains healthy blood vessels, and supports optimal functioning of the heart muscle.
- Consider taking Lecithin as a dietary supplement as it is believed to help prevent cholesterol and other fats from accumulating on the walls of the arteries. Lecithin also helps the liver to metabolize fat which reduces the chance of liver degeneration.
- And, my favorite suggestion of all…Eat some dark chocolate! The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in dark chocolate may help to support heart health and the type of saturated fat found in cocoa butter, “may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels”, according to Dr. Weil. Now this is a suggestion that I can put to use easily.
In summary, you want to include a diet rich in whole plant foods as they are high in fiber, rich with antioxidants and contain healthy fats with no cholesterol. By limiting or eliminating foods high in animal saturated fats and processed packaged foods high in trans fats, refined grains and sugars, you will easily have normal cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for many health challenges, including heart disease.