There’s a 1 in 4 chance that if you’re reading this you have been told you have high cholesterol and are on a cholesterol lowering medication, or statin.
The scary part is, that scientifically, there is a 1000 to 1 chance that you don’t need to be on one. And the only people who do are sufferers of a rare condition known as hypercholesterolemia (a metabolic condition with impaired ability to metabolize cholesterol).
Now I don’t expect you to believe me just yet, but I want you to go into reading this article with a curious and open mind. Just read it, check out the studies and then make your own intelligent decision.
I intend to provide all the evidence to prove that:
– Cholesterol is not evil
– Cholesterol is not the cause of heart attacks or heart disease
– What the actual cause of heart attacks and heart disease is
– How to prevent heart attacks & heart disease
– Why modern medicine still labels cholesterol as bad ($$$)
– Why Statins (which ironically resemble the word Satin) are unnecessary to most, and quite often dangerous
Now I am very passionate about this subject because it hits close to home.
I have done all my research and am writing this in attempt to get my own father off statin medications, and have him around to play with his grand children.
And quite frankly, the fact that such a large scale manipulation can occur over pure greed pisses me off.
So here is everything you need to know about cholesterol, I hope it leads to a healthier you.
And please share this article using the boxes to the left. The more eyes on it, the better.
Table of Contents
- What is Cholesterol, What does it Do & Why We Need it
- Eating Cholesterol in The Diet Does Not Raise Cholesterol in The Blood
- Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease (And is Actually GOOD For You)
- Lowering Your Cholesterol Increases Your Risk of Dying And Raising it Lengthens Your Life
- So How Did Cholesterol Get Such a Bad Rep?
- Why Does my Doctor And The Media Still Tell Me to Lower my Cholesterol?
- So What Actually Causes Heart Attacks And Heart Disease???
- What Causes Inflammation, Oxidation & How Can I Prevent Heart Disease
- What Should I get Tested For to Access My Risk of Heart Disease?
- So Let’s Recap
- Additional Cholesterol Resources And Sources:
What is Cholesterol, What does it Do & Why We Need it
Cholesterol is a waxy lipid that is found in every single cell in your body (and actually every cell membrane on earth). It’s job is to build and maintain the cell membranes, metabolize fat soluble vitamins, create bile acids, insulate neurons, helps in the formation of memories, and act as the raw ingredients for many of the bodies hormones, including the ever so valuable vitamin D & testosterone.
We need cholesterol to survive, and in all honesty we need lots of it to thrive.
You see, 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies is made by our liver (between 1,000 – 1,400mg a day). The other 25% is from our diets.
You might be wondering why something deemed so evil would be made by our liver, and involved in every single cell of our body.
It’s a good question.
What’s even more interesting is how when you eat less cholesterol, the liver actually ramps up cholesterol production to ensure we have enough. The less cholesterol we eat, the more the liver makes and the more we eat, the less the liver has to produce.
Is our body trying to sabotage us? Probably not.
The next thing you need to know is that there not really are multiple “types” of cholesterol. And there is no “good” cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol. There is just cholesterol.
We have multiple categories of cholesterol because fat is not water soluble, so cholesterol can not transport itself around the body. It must bind to different types of Lipoprotein to move around, which you know as HDL and LDL.
The different categories of cholesterol are as followed:
1) HDL (High-Density Lipoprotien) – HDL is deemed as the good guy. It is the cholesterol that removes cholesterol from your arteries and cells and brings it back to the liver. Not to be removed, but to be recycled.
2) LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotien) – LDL is deemed as the bad guy. It’s the cholesterol that brings cholesterol from you liver to various cells and arteries in the body. You can see why people may see this as bad, but you’ll learn all about what is really going on here later.
3) VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein) A.K.A LDL-P (LDL Particle) or LP(a) – A branch of LDL, these tiny LDL particles are a strong risk factor for heart disease that many doctors neglect to check for (you’ll learn what you need to check for later). But as we talk about further down, high VLDL is not the cause – but the symptomatic warning sign.
4) Triglycerides – Tryglicerides are actually a dangerous fat that are linked to heart disease and diabetes. But contrary to what you may think, triglycerides actually rise from eating too many carbs & sugars, not exercising enough, smoking, drinking & being obese. Not from eating fat.
Not all cholesterol is created equal.
So as you see, there are various types of cholesterol, and they all have a different task.
What you need know is that your total cholesterol means almost nothing. And unless over 300, it is not an indicator of heart disease risk. At all.
HDL is good, and LDL is not necessarily bad. Large particle LDL cannot enter the arterial walls, they just bounce off which is rarely addressed when talking about your cholesterol levels. If you have high levels of fluffy large particle LDL that are unoxidized, who cares! Seriously, they are not a danger to you.
But VLDL or LP(a) is a small form of LDL, small enough to enter the arterial walls. Which is why elevated levels are a big symptom of heart disease risk which is also rarely addressed at the doctors office.
So what were getting at here is that the ratios of your cholesterol are all that matters, and to judge your health on the total number is simply bad and outdated medicine. And on top of that, taking dangerous statins to lower those total numbers is as dangerous as it is unnecessary.
Were jumping way ahead here, but your going to learn all about this stuff later and how to access your risk.
But if you want a more simple explanation of all this check out [su_lightbox src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpMoPqhZumo”]this great video[/su_lightbox].
Now that you are an expert on what cholesterol does, and you can see that your body NEEDS it, you are probably confused to why it is believed to cause so many problems. We’re going to clear all that up.
But first there is an important concept you need to understand..
Eating Cholesterol in The Diet Does Not Raise Cholesterol in The Blood
The thought that eating cholesterol and saturated fats raises cholesterol levels in our blood (he Diet-Heart Hypothesis) is one of the most common myths that plagues society today.
It is a culturally accepted lie, that has absolutely no scientific backing. It’s actually completely backwards.
But don’t feel bad if you feel cheated after reading this section. Even Marc Cuban stated he stopped eating cheese because he wanted to lower his cholesterol on one of the latest episodes of Shark Tank. One of the richest men in the world, but one of the stupidest statements he’s probably ever made.
Lets look at some facts:
On any given day our bodies contain between 1,100 and 1,700 mg of cholesterol. As we talked about above, 75% of that is produced inside of us by the liver. Most of the cholesterol in the food we eat cannot be absorbed by the body, and when cholesterol intake goes down, the body will just make more. And vice versa.
Some studies to prove this:
1) The Samburu people in Africa
The Samburu people in Africa are quite remarkable. They eat about a pound of meat and drink two gallons of raw milk each day (essentially they consume twice the cholesterol of the average American), and their cholesterol levels are shockingly lower. Around 170mg/dl to be exact. This can be seen by the Masai people in Kenya and the sheopards in Somalia as well [source]
2) From a PubMed study: [source]
[quote]Dietary cholesterol content does not significantly influence plasma cholesterol values, which are regulated by different genetic and nutritional factors that influence cholesterol absorption or synthesis.[/quote]
Eassentially, cholesterol is not greatly absorbed when you eat it. A lot of it is excreted. And when you do eat a lot of cholesterol, your liver thanks you and actually produces less.
3) The creator of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis even agrees
Ancel Keys, who you will learn about later, is one of the major proponents of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis, which went public in 1977.
He later came out to say in 1997 that:
[quote]”There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter, unless you happen to be a Rabbit or a Chicken.”[/quote]
Note: 25% of the population is known as hyper-responders, which means they respond to dietary cholesterol with a modest rise in blood cholesterol, but these people are are safe too. It has been proven that the rise in LDL and HDL does not affect the ratio’s or increase their risk of heart disease. [source]
What about saturated fat?
Now that fat is becoming more understood via studies and people are beginning to see that replacing carbs with unsaturated fats, such as such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish actually lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and reduces the estimated cardiovascular risk, things are changing. But saturated fat is still a grey area in many people minds, so I wanted to address it.
Food high in saturated fat include: fatty meats, lard, full-fat dairy products like butter and cream, coconuts, coconut oil, palm oil and dark chocolate.
It’s important to say that no evidence has ever linked saturated fat to heart disease.
Actually it’s the opposite.
Eating saturated fats have been proven to mildly raise LDL, yes. But what is actually happening is the conversion of VLDL to Larger benign LDL particles which reduce your overall risk of heart disease [source].
Essentially this means that eating saturated fat lowers your risk of heart disease. Mind = blown.
On top of that, saturated fat only boost LDL in the short term, but no evidence has been found on the effects of LDL by saturated fat consumption over long term periods [source].
So essentially low carb, high fat diets (including saturated fat) with lower your VLDL and protect your heart. But high carb diets low in fat will raise your VLDL and put you at risk.
Enjoy your bacon.
What about Trans Fat?
Trans fat does not follow it’s fat friends in the heart healthy race.
Avoid Trans fats like the plague. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, accumulation in body fat and a huge increase in the risk of heart disease. (1, 2, 3).
Trans fats include vegetable oils such as like soybean and corn oils, as well as the processed foods that we see so often in American diets.
Just stay away.
So what does raise cholesterol in the blood?
Ironically, eating lots of sugars and grains which contain no cholesterol, mental stress, lack of physical activity and change of body weight may. These will ramp up your bad cholesterol production because of the inflammation they cause. But this is going to be covered in depth later in the article
Okay – so eating cholesterol doesn’t raise cholesterol. That’s one myth covered. Next we’re going to jump into an even bigger myth, the one that has you scared of this vital lipid in the first place..
Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease (And is Actually GOOD For You)
For this section, I am going to break it up into a lot of sections that you can click through and go read for yourself about how cholesterol has now been proven to be good for us, and not cause heart attacks, heart disease or death (regardless of what you her on CNN).
1) Lowering Cholesterol Does Not Reduce Heart Disease
A study from the American Medical Association of 70 year old men (at a 10x higher risk of heart disease than 45 year old men) shows that high LDL cholesterol is not a risk factor of coronary heart disease or any other cause of death at this age. So if cholesterol is not a factor for 70 year olds at risk of heart disease, why would it be for a 45 year old?
2) Look at The Ladies
Women suffer 300% less heart disease than men, in spite of having higher average cholesterol levels. [Source] The study determined that there was absolutely no relationship between total cholesterol levels and mortality from any cardiovascular related causes.
3) Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptians, who were in fact plagued with the issue of heart disease and clogged arteries as we are today [Source], actually ate a vegetarian diet, consisting of very little cholesterol.
4) Cholesterol Levels Around The World
The video below is an amazing look at cholesterol levels around the world, and how they have zero relation with heart disease risk. Actually, the Aboriginals who have the lowest levels of cholesterol of any population studied have the highest rate of heart disease in the world, and the Swiss who have the highest cholesterol levels have a 30X lower rate of heart disease. Interesting stuff.
5) And Saturated Fat Has no Effect on Heart Disease Risk
Back to the saturated fat topic, this study of 347,747 participants it was concluded that there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease.
These studies are conclusive.
I could go on for a while with examples of how cholesterol levels in your blood do not correlate with your risk for heart disease, but if you want to learn more, check out this awesome article by Dr. Uffe RavnSkov, M.D, P.H.D showing that throughout history it has been repeatedly proven that blood cholesterol levels have nothing to do with atherosclerosis.
And on top of not causing heart disease or atherosclerosis, low cholesterol actually increase your risk of death, and those with higher cholesterol live longer.
Yes you read correctly.
It’s a proven fact.
Lowering Your Cholesterol Increases Your Risk of Dying And Raising it Lengthens Your Life
People with higher cholesterol live longer.
It’s a simple fact that has been proven over and over and over, and I am going to show you that proof here.
1) First lets look at that the dangers of having low cholesterol:
Not only does cholesterol not attribute to heart disease, but lowering it will actually increase your risk of dying. It’s safe to say that lowering your cholesterol is CRAZY.
As stated in Dr. Mercola’s popular cholesterol article:
[quote]”Sally Fallon, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Mary Enig, Ph.D, an expert in lipid biochemistry, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a ‘problem’ that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”[/quote]
This explanation is great.
When you lower your cholesterol to dangerously low levels, all types of things go wrong. Essentially you are throwing your body out of homeostasis.
What do you thinks going to happen?!
Some of this for starters:
a) Lower Cholesterol Increases Depression
Dutch studies of over 30,000 men prove that lower cholesterol increases your risk of depression, and in turn those with higher cholesterol tended to live longer.
b) Chronically Low Cholesterol Increases The Chance That You Will Kill Yourself
Research has found that those in the lowest quarter of cholesterol levels have a significantly higher chance of committing suicide than those in the highest quarter of cholesterol levels. Additional sources: 1, 2
c) Lower Cholesterol Makes You More Violent
In this study, “Low cholesterol (below the median) was strongly associated with criminal violence in unadjusted analysis.”
d) Statins, Which Lower Your Cholesterol, Increase Your Risk of Cancer
Overall, Low Cholesterol Results in a Higher Chance of Dying
Yes, you read that correctly. While you are constantly told to lower your cholesterol, this recommendation is literally brining you closer to death. In a recent study, researchers examined the relationship between overall mortality and individuals aged 60-85 (average age 71) over a period stretching over 12 years. Initial analysis revealed that higher total cholesterol levels (> 200 mg/dl/5.2 mmol/l) were associated with a 24% reduced risk of mortality over the study period. And lower cholesterol levels (< 170 mg/dl/4.4 mmol/l) were associated with a 60% increased risk of death.
A quote from the study:
[quote]After excluding 116 individuals who died prematurely (<2 years) or were underweight (BMI <20 kg/m2), the only variable presenting positive association with mortality was total cholesterol <170mg/dL.[/quote]
But what qualifies as low cholesterol?
According to Dr. Mercola, very low cholesterol is pretty much anything under 150, but anything under 170 was shown to be dangerous from the study above.
So all this means one thing.
2) People with higher cholesterol live longer:
So you know that low cholesterol is dangerous, but this doesn’t mean that high cholesterol isn’t. But not only is it not, it actually will increase the length of your life. The studies below are just a few that prove this.
This study show’s that over a 7 year period the serum cholesterol levels of Yugoslav males aged 35–62 was negatively related to mortality, i.e., those with a lower cholesterol experienced a higher mortality than those with a higher cholesterol.
b) Cholesterol is Correlated With a Longer Life
Great article by Dr. Uffe RavnSkov, M.D, P.H.D which highlights over 10 examples of how higher cholesterol is correlated with a longer life.
Don’t believe me, believe the studies!
There is sufficient evidence that cholesterol is not going to kill you. It’s an important part of this whole cholesterol story and it’s important to note that there are no studies that prove that cholesterol is correlated with an increase in death or heart disease (if you can find some, post them in the comment section). And don’t just take my word for it, click the studies, read them and get educated. Your health depends on it.
So How Did Cholesterol Get Such a Bad Rep?
If cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, how did it get such a bad reputation in the first place?
1) It all started with a dude named Ancel Keys.
Back in the 1940’s, incidence of heart disease began to take off. (Ironically this is when a lot of sugars and grains were introduced into the diet)
This led scientist and researchers to a desperate search of what was going on.
One of these scientist was Ancel Keys, who studied the diets of 22 countries from all around the world and compared them to their mortality rates. In 1958 he published a study called “The Seven Countries Study,” in which picked the data from 7 countries that matched his hypothesis (cholesterol caused heart disease) and omitted the other 15, which showed that cholesterol and dietary fat intake didn’t cause heart disease (Like countries such a Holland & Norway, which had a high fat intake but little heart disease).
Later, when other researchers analyzed his data using all the original countries, the link between fat and heart disease totally vanished.
This highly flawed study gained massive media attention and had a major influence on the dietary guidelines of the next few decades.
2) Next came The McGovern Committee.
In 1977, a committee led by George McGovern published the first “dietary goals” for the U.S.A in order to reverse the heart disease epidemic.
Based on the pervious studies done, and what they thought they knew, the dietary goals were:
– Eat less fats & intake less cholesterol
– Eat less processed sugars (They got one thing right)
– Eat complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and grains.
These guidelines were then picked up by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), which built a billion dollar industry on bringing us the wheat based foods we all love so much.
The prognosis was essentially eat a low fat diet, high carb diet and you’ll be fine.
But they were wrong!
The guidelines were based on false science, which as you have seen has been repeatedly proven wrong. And ironically parts of this diet is the exact cause of increased risk of heart disease.
It’s also interesting to note that shortly following this, the obesity and diabetes epidemics began.
So with these guidelines in place, the world we live in now was shaped.
To credit Ancel Keys, he came out to say in 1997 (maybe his conscious got to him) that:
[quote]”There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter, unless you happen to be a Rabbit or a Chicken.”[/quote]
But the damage was done.
This may be slowly changing more and more each year.
But until it had changed 100%, it always leads back to the same question..
Why Does my Doctor And The Media Still Tell Me to Lower my Cholesterol?
For starters, I can think of Thirty Billion and One reasons why you are told you need to lower tour cholesterol . 30,000,000,000 of which being dollar bills.
1) Yes thats right – The statin drug industry (cholesterol lowering drugs) is a $30 Billion dollar industry.
Imagine basing a $30 Billion dollar industry off incorrect science that is now proven wrong. It’s mind blowing. Imagine if that industry disappeared overnight, what would happen. Which is why it doesn’t.
The pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars each year (they can afford it) enforcing a lie that cholesterol is bad and you need drugs to lower it. Right now it’s these tens of millions of dollars of advertising vs guys like Dr. Mercola, Dr. David Perlmutter, Mark Sisson, Steve Kamb, Chris Kresser & myself amongst many others.
2) The food industry grew on the guidelines set by The McGovern Committee
Have you been to the supermarket lately? Whole grain this, whole grain that.
If we put the entire lifespan of human beings into one year, then we have only been eating whole grains for a day. We are not evolved to eat these foods. But that’s a subject for another article.
And did you know that whole wheat bread spikes your blood sugar just as much as white bread. And both of them spike it more than a snickers bar. For anyone not familiar with dieting science, a spike in blood sugar is bad. The result is fat being stored.
It’s just another billion dollar industry that was built on false science. Go to the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics Website and check out their recommendation for a heart healthy diet:
And I quote,
[quote]”Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood.”[/quote]
Seems like insane advice, considering what you just learned. But it makes sense when you find out that they are sponsored by:
– The Coca Cola Company
– General Mills
How can you and myself understand what a heart healthy diet is but the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics can’t. The corruption is real, and just shows that no matter how big and authoritative an organization, they are just a bunch of people with fancy titles who love money. Don’t take advice from someone sponsored by Coca Cola. Educate yourself and learn more about stuff like this here (or here).
3) How old is your doctor?
I’m not knocking doctors. They are brilliant and can save people from so many things, performing mind blowing surgeries and doing things I can’t even pronounce.
But when you are a doctor who has undergone 7+ years of school, and has 30+ years of experience (that has engrained him with the knowledge that cholesterol is bad) and a patient walks in and tells him he’s wrong, how do you think they will react.
It’s a sad truth, but I feel like I know more about cholesterol than my doctor. And now you may as well.
If your doctor is an older man, there is a 90% chance he is still on the cholesterol bandwagon. And it’s not his fault, at first. He has been taught incorrect information, he is constantly educated by the pharmaceutical companies who sponsor many of America’s biggest health corporations, and they offer pretty incentives to prescribe their drugs. You can’t know something when you are taught the wrong thing. Doctors are only people.
All that being said, there are many doctors who are catching up to this, and it is my belief that it is not until the doctors just going to school now are up and running practices in 20 years, that the cholesterol myth will die.
And it will die.
You cannot keep up a lie against science forever. Look how long the tobacco companies took to admit cigarettes were bad for you. And it took 20+ years to take lead out of gasoline after they had the science proving it was deadly to human beings. The gas companies fought it for 20 years, with their own team of highly paid scientist who said “it had no negative effects of humans.” It’s scary what people are capable of when the dollar bill is in play.
But it will change. And you should share this article to be a part of that.
So What Actually Causes Heart Attacks And Heart Disease???
This is the million dollar question.
It’s what I was left wondering after hearing other people tell me cholesterol is not bad for you. And it’s the immediate question I still get when I tell people this.
[quote]”That’s crazy – Then what clogs arteries?”[/quote]
The quick answer: Inflammation and Oxidation
Inflammation is a natural process in the body that occurs as a response to invaders and perceived threats. In many cases it is a good thing, like when you scrape your knee, inflammation is what causes your blood to clot, blood vessels to constrict and the immune system to trigger and send cells to repair the damage. The result is that scrape on your knee heals and “scars” over.
But in excess it is dangerous.
Like your knee, if your arteries are damaged (from toxins, free radicals, viruses or other bacteria), your body goes through the same inflammatory process, including blood thickening and blood vessels constricting; expect that the final “scar” formed in your artery is known as plaque. The formation of this plaque, thinning of the arteries and thickening of the blood causes an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
This is where cholesterol starts to get a bad rep, but for unjust reasons. Remember that we learned that cholesterol is a part of every cell and makes up the cell membrane. When cells are damaged, anywhere in the body, cholesterol is bound to LDL and released into the blood stream to heal the cells. This is no different in your arteries. The cholesterol doesn’t just stroll by deciding to stick to your arteries, it only does when it needs to.
So when your arteries are damaged, resulting in inflammation, a plaque forms (scar) and cholesterol (the bandaid) being part of that plaque, is sent to the arteries to heal and produce new healthy cells. In the case of arteries it is VLDL which is small enough to fit inside.
But there’s more. Cholesterol isn’t even necessary for a plaque to form. Contrary to what most people believe, a plaque is made up of mostly scar tissue, which is made of protein. When blood clotting proteins (platelets) need to heal and injury, they become sticky and adhere to the damaged tissue like a bandaid. This process is how blood clots form. In the arteries, a complex mixture of platelets, calcium, cholesterol and triglycerides is sent to the site to heal the injury. So this mass of fibrous tissue is only a small part cholesterol, yet it takes all the heat.
When the inflammation resolves, the cholesterol or “bandaid” goes away and the healing is done. You’re safe and sound.
The problem arises when inflammation is chronic and doesn’t stop, meaning the cause of the injury is not removed. Then the cholesterol & other fibrous tissue has to stay, and eventually can be acted on by macrophages where it can become oxidized to a point in which it takes up more space & slows flow in the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis). This can then break off and form a clot, resulting in a stroke or heart attack.
This is dangerous (obviously), but if you understand correctly, it is NOT the cholesterol that is causing the problem. The cholesterol is a natural symptom or “bandaid” of the problem, chronic inflammation, and is just one of the materials in this process. Cholesterol is just guilty by association.
This is why when first studied, scientists believed that heart attacks were caused by cholesterol, because it was present in the arteries where heart attacks occurred. But it was only there to HEAL the chronic inflammation and plaque formation that occurred because of the initial damage to the arteries. Blaming the cholesterol is as crazy as blaming the bandaid you put on that scrape on your knee for causing it to hurt. It’s just the bandaid.
Thats why taking cholesterol lowering drugs like statins is useless, because it treats a symptom, and not the real problem (chronic inflammation). And on top of that, they may actually boost your risk of heart disease by taking away vital nutrients like CoQ10, which your heart needs to thrive.
What causes chronic Inflammation?
In short, a diet filled with sugars, grains and trans fats. What people switched to after the heart crises scare in the 50’s. This is also why we now have an obesity and diabetes epidemic, yet you still see these recommendation on our national health site. It’s scary. Other causes are smoking, poor physical activity and stress. Learn a lot more about it in the next section.
Almost all studies suggests that LDL, the so called “bad” cholesterol, is only dangerous when it is oxidized. And VLDL, which enters the arteries has been found to be oxidized much easier than larger LDL particles. When oxidation occurs, the cholesterol that was acting as a bandaid to the plague or lesion in the arteries can harden and break off the form a clot.
This is obviously very bad.
What causes oxidation?
Trans fats and free radical damage in short. But learn more about who to prevent it in the section below.
Cholesterol is a part of every cell membrane you have, and when you have inflammation occurring in your arteries, because of damage, your liver produces VLDL (the cholesterol that goes to your arteries to heal the problem). When the inflammation is chronic (because of a bad diet) the VLDL cholesterol has to hang around. When the VLDL has to hang around in the arteries, it runs the risk of being oxidized (if you have a lot of free radicals running around you). This in turn can result in the oxidized cholesterol breaking off and forming a clot.
So don’t confuse LDL with VLDL, they are two separate things, which is why when you are getting tested (see below), checking your VLDL levels is of upmost importance.
But first, now that you know what’s really going on – how can you protect yourself?
What Causes Inflammation, Oxidation & How Can I Prevent Heart Disease
All the science and facts in this article don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to maintain heart health.
What do you do? What do you eat? Everything you thought before reading this may have been wrong. So you might be feeling a little lost.
Relax. I’m about to tell you everything you need to know to maintain optimal heart health and put yourself at the lowest risk for heart attacks and heart disease.
These tips will not only lower your inflammation, but they actually will lower your cholesterol levels. There will be less need for LDL to transport cholesterol from your liver to areas of your body (specifically Very Small Particle LDL). And your HDL will raise as your body brings more cholesterol back to your liver. All good things.
How To Decreases Inflammation & Oxidation
1) Fix Your Diet
As you learned above, if you control the inflammation in your body – you control the level of “bad” cholesterol in your blood. The easiest way to control inflammation is to fix your diet.
a) Eat as many vegetables as you can
There’s no limit to how many veggies you can eat. Try to get half a plate with every meal. They will reduce inflammation and oxidation.
b) Eat good quality meat and fish
Best off is organic grass fed meats, but don’t be afraid of meat in general. And even better, eat lots of fish. Fish is an excellent source of EPA and DHA, and regular consumption of fish or fish oil has been proven to reduce mortality from all cause by 17% [source].
c) Get lots of healthy fats
Eat traditional saturated fats, & monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are proven to raise HDL while lowering LDL and triglycerides. They also decrease oxidation and inflammation, lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease. Healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, raw dairy products (butter, cream, sure cream, cheese, etc.), avocados, raw nuts, seeds, and eggs with runny yolks.
d) Eat polyphenol rich foods
Food like tea, green tea, blue berries, olive oil, citrus fruits, red wine, dark chocolate, turmeric and other herbs contain polyphenol which defends against chemical oxidation.
e) Reduce (or ideally eliminate) grains and sugars from your diet
This means no sodas, no candy, no breads, no pastas, no rice. I know what you’re thinking, NO FUN! But honestly, the energy boost you will get from eating this was is amazing. It’s hard, because of the society we live in, but don’t let it hold you down. *If your HDL/Cholesterol ratio is poor, than you should even consider eliminating fruit from your diet until it improves. You can then reintroduce it gradually.
f) Snack on nuts
We all love to snack, but you don’t have to give it up to be heart healthy. Snack on nuts like walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
g) Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Foods such as garlic, ginger curry and chili peppers are natural anti-inflammatory and will go a long way towards optimal heart health.
f) Avoid vegetable oil
When everyone deemed animal fats as bad in the 50’s, people were left eating vegetable oil instead. This is a nutritional disaster. These include corn, soy, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower and are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids., which significantly promote oxidation and inflammation. These oils are found in nearly all packaged foods and most restaurants. Eat at your own risk, and use oils like olive oil and coconut oil instead.
h) Avoid trans fats
Trans Fats, which you know are pretty much the devil cause oxidation. You can counteract oxidation by eating anti-oxidants such as fruits, veggies, dark leafy greens, red meat, organ meat, nuts and healthy oils.
Exercise has been proven to reduce VLDL concentration regardless of diet. This is huge. And in patients of heart disease, regular exercise showed a reduction in vascular symptoms.
3) Maintain a Healthy BMI
Obesity increases both inflammation and oxidation and in turn dramatically increases your risk for heart disease. In turn, being too skinny is bad for your health as well.
4) Decrease Stress
Managing stress is key to maintaining heart health. Stress literally triples your risk or heart disease, and promotes the hormone cortisol which results in both oxidative and inflammatory damage.
5) Avoid Smoking And Excessive Drinking
Smoking just one cigarette a day increases your risk for heart disease by 40%. Smoking 40 cigarettes a day would increase it by 900%! I don’t like those odds. The more you smoke, the more risk you have for heart disease.
No, I don’t mean statins. But there are a lot of supplements out there than can really go a long way towards optimal heart health.
a) Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil, or other omega 3’s will thin your blood and help prevent clotting. It is also a great source of fat which will lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation. A must take for anyone at risk for heart disease. According to Dr. Mercola, Krill oil is a much more effective version of DHA and EPA. Learn more here.
Tumeric is one of the best things you can put in your body. It’s great for the liver and controls inflammation. Turmeric is available in extracted pill form so you get a concentrated dose of Curcumin. I use this brand.
Garlic is great for your cardiovascular system and is a natural anti inflammatory. If you can;t eat it in your food, supplement with it.
You can take an anti-oxidant supplement to help prevent oxidation, since these antioxidants will combat free radical damage. For more information see Dr. Mercola’s ultimate guide to antioxidants.
1) 10 Steps to Preventing Heart Disease Naturally
Protecting yourself at home is great. And with the steps above you should be doing it.
But what about assessing your risk?
This is extremely important, and knowing what to look for and ask your doctor is key.
What Should I get Tested For to Access My Risk of Heart Disease?
Health officials urge everyone over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested every 5 years. While they are probably doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s not a bad idea – because you can learn a lot from these tests, if you know where to look.
1) Total cholesterol means almost nothing
When you get tested at the doctors you will often be given your total cholesterol. This is pretty much a useless analysis of your heart health, unless it is above 300.
2) The standards set by the AHA (American Heart Association) are dangerously low
It’s hard for me to believe that in big bad America, our own American heart Association is so far off from the truth. How does a self improvement enthusiast from New York know all this, when they are still living in the 50’s?
The standards set for LDL cholesterol by the AHA is set to 100. And they recommend people at high risk to have LDL less than 70.
There is no way to achieve these extremely low targets without taking cholesterol lowering medication. (convenient)
So don’t be scared if you don’t make their “cut.”
3) What actually matters
According to Dr. Mercola, he has had patients with cholesterol over 250 who were at lower heart disease risk than patient with cholesterol levels under 200. This is because of their ratios.
The ratios that matter:
a) HDL/Cholesterol Ratio
HDL percentage is very important in determining your risk factor for heart disease. Just divide your HDL levels by your total cholesterol. A ratio above 24% is ideal and should be strived for.
b) Triglyceride/HDL Ratio
The same goes for your triglyceride/HDL ratio. Divide your triglycerides by your HDL. A ratio below 2 is ideal and should be strived for.
c) Your Level of VLDL (LPP Test)
This is the most important marker. Your VLDL is the LDL that is small enough to fit in your arteries. If it is high, then there is something going on that is causing it to have to go in a fix the problem. A sure sign or elevated heart disease risk. People with mostly small LDL particles have 3X greater risk of heart disease, compared to those with mostly large LDL particles [source].
d) C-reactive Protein Test For Inflammation
A CRP test is used to measure the inflammation in your arteries. If inflammation is the number one cause for heart disease it makes sense to get it checked right? A CRP under 1 mg means that you are at low risk for cardiovascular disease. 1 -3 mg means you are at intermediate risk, and 3 mg puts you at high risk. This test sounds a little better than testing for cholesterol. Ask for it.
So Let’s Recap
There was a lot to take in here. Here are the 10 most important points.
1) Cholesterol is not a deadly poison, but a substance vital to the cells of every living mammal.
2) High cholesterol is not dangerous by itself. HDL is great and LDL is not necessarily bad. However, VLDL is small enough to get into your arteries and is more easily oxidized. Having un optimal ratio’s of these cholesterol may reflect an unhealthy condition going on in you body.
3) Eating cholesterol and saturated fat does not raise your blood cholesterol levels. This is because your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat and production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. However – mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. And eating lots of sugars and grains may raise your blood cholesterol levels and negatively affect your HDL to LDL ratio due the inflammation it causes.
5) And there is no evidence that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes atherosclerosis or heart attacks. This is shown in over twenty studies, a majority of which were in this article.
6) In turn a high blood cholesterol does not promote atherosclerosis or coronary heart disease. Many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is low become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is high. Showing there is no correlation.
7) On a healthy diet, high cholesterol levels (higher HDL/Cholesterol ratio) are desirable, offer many benefits and prolong your life. Having cholesterol that is unnaturally low, from means of medication, shortens you life and puts you at risk for many dangerous scenarios.
8) Cholesterol lowering medications like Statins come with a host of unwanted side effects, and can actually shorten your life.
9) By lowering the inflammation and oxidation with the steps above, you will see a rise in HDL, a lower need for VLDL & LDL, and a healthy happy heart.
10) With the big pockets of big pharma and the misinformation it is very easy to be swayed that cholesterol is the enemy. But just look at the facts and keep educating yourself.
It’s up to you. You can eat a heart healthy diet and be heart healthy. Or you can eat a poor diet and try to resort to medications to keep you alive, which don’t work very well anyway.
And don’t be fooled.
As I write this article, articles like this, pushing statins to every age group, are coming out every day on big media like yahoo.
Just read the comments. I went through the first 50 and everyone of them was against the article and it’s false accusations.
People aren’t stupid, and it will have to end one day. One person at a time.
Share this article and help make a change! And please comment whether you agree, disagree and feel free to bash me.
Additional Cholesterol Resources And Sources:
Book: Low Cholesterol Leads to an Early Death – Evidence from 101 Scientific Papers
Dr. Mercola’s: The Cholesterol Myth That is Harming Your Health
Marc’s Daily Apple: The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol
Nerd Fitness: Is Cholesterol Killing Us? A Beginners Guide to Cholesterol
Chris Kresser: The Diet-Heart Myth – How to Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease Naturally
The Cholesterol Myths by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover Up