It seems that everyone is talking about cholesterol these days, but do you really know what it is? What can you do to maintain healthy cholesterol levels?
Most of us think that high cholesterol comes from eating cholesterol or fat. The main cause of high cholesterol is excess sugar, not fat. Sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, turns your liver into a cholesterol factory, manufacturing triglycerides from the sugar, which is then transformed into dangerous small cholesterol particles. Anything that turns to sugar is a problem—sugar, white flour, white rice, etc. All of this “white stuff,” including trans fats , in your diet turns to “yellow stuff” in your arteries.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is carried around in the blood. It performs useful functions in the body and is a major building block for cells and many of your hormones, including oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is also important for the synthesis of vitamin D, as well as bile acids which aid in the digestion of fats. Our bodies manufacture cholesterol but it can also be found in foods containing saturated fats. It is important to check your cholesterol levels regularly. Even though our bodies need some cholesterol, having high cholesterol can be bad for your health and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Good vs. The Bad Cholesterol
HDL and LDL are letters that you may have seen before on a blood test, and your Practitioner will be interested in reviewing these to monitor your health. But what do they mean? Your total cholesterol is made up of two types of cholesterol, often referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is essentially the “good” form of cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from the tissues to the liver to be broken down and excreted. HDL helps to decrease cardiovascular risk.
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is often referred to as the “bad” form of cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can leave cholesterol deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of the coronary artery disease known as atherosclerosis.
- It is important to keep your HDL:LDL ratio in balance; aim towards having higher levels of the “good” and lower levels of the “bad” cholesterol.
Natural Support For Cholesterol
Your Practitioner can assess your cholesterol levels and your risk of cardiovascular disease. Being aware of your current state of health gives you the opportunity to take positive steps to improve your health right now. Staying healthy in the present will reduce your risk of cardiovascular and chronic disease in the future. Your Practitioner can prescribe some key nutrients specifically to help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health:
Natural Supplements that can assist:
Polymethoxyflavones: Also known as PMFs, these natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in citrus peel assist in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Research has shown that nobiletin and tangeretin, the
Tocotrienols: Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. These antioxidants also increase the clearance of LDL cholesterol and reduce the body’s production of LDL.
Krill oil: The oil from the crustacean, krill, has been shown to be beneficial for cholesterol balance, particularly by supporting HDL levels.
Fish oil: 2 g to 4 g of combined EPA/DHA has been shown to decrease triglyceride levels and is beneficial for heart health.
Red Rice Yeast is also known to be helpful in assisting the lowering of cholesterol levels. Take 1,200mg twice a day. Found at most health stores.
Nutritional Tips For Optimal Cardiovascular Performance
- Follow the Mediterranean diet. People eating this diet rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world. This diet includes nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, avocado, vegetables, some fruit and full fat dairy- so enjoy good fats! Good fats help to lower the bad cholesterol.
- Reduce saturated fats by choosing lean and good quality meats (organic and grass fed). Eating too much saturated fat may increase your weight and cholesterol levels. There is controversy around the topic of saturated fat and its effect on cholesterol. There is evidence that supports both views.
- Eliminate detrimental trans fats found in many fast foods, fried foods and packaged baked goods.
- Cut down on sugary refined carbohydrates and processed food. These foods often contain ‘hidden sugars’ that can be converted to fat when supply is high.
- Weight loss. If you are overweight, losing extra weight will help to lose the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Your Practitioner can recommend a clinically-proven weight loss program and targeted supplements to assist healthy weight management.
- Get moving towards a healthy lifestyle. Exercise improves cardiovascular and overall health and supports your “good” cholesterol levels.
- Move away from unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol intake as they increase your cardiovascular risk.
- Include high fibre foods into your diet . Fibre assists in sweeping out excess cholesterol that is floating around. I usually recommend to consume 1 tbsp psyllium husk in foods daily or 1-2 tbsp ground flaxseed or slippery elm.
Getting Your Ratios Right For Life
Achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can be simple with the support of your healthcare Practitioner. With the help of natural medicines and by following some key dietary and lifestyle recommendations, you can effectively manage your cholesterol levels. Talk to your Practitioner today to get started on your journey towards improved cardiovascular health.