Update on Cholesterol
The ideal total cholesterol number is 200. In 1980, the ideal total cholesterol number was 230. In thirty years, lowering the total cholesterol has not changed the fact that heart disease is still the number one killer of both men and women over 50. Most medical professionals know that oral birth control and pregnancy can both elevate cholesterol in women and it is common to see cholesterol levels change throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Cholesterol is an essential component of our cell walls and helps to create our hormones. Without it we could not live. Excess cholesterol becomes a problem when it becomes deposited within the walls of our arteries and over time can cause a blockage leading to a stroke or heart attack.
Elevated cholesterol is symptomless and is detected through a fasting blood test called a lipid panel.
A few basic lifestyle changes of getting or staying physically active and dropping excess weight by limiting carbohydrates can help tremendously to lower cholesterol. When making any dietary changes it is better to add in the beneficial items before cutting the bad foods out. In this way we can trick our psyche into feeling less deprived.
There are some powerful cholesterol fighting foods out there. To get started with a cholesterol friendly diet, some of the items may already be in your kitchen!
Some cholesterol fighting foods at the top of my list are:
*Nuts – All kinds are proven to reduce LDL “bad cholesterol”. Because nuts are calorie dense, stick to the portion control of ¼ c a day. This translates into 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
*Beans – These versatile food items are high in soluble fiber and help trap cholesterol in the colon and pull it from the body.
*Plant sterols – These occur naturally in plants. Plant sterols act by helping to block the absorption of cholesterol in the blood. The recommended dose is 2 grams/day; we can get about a gram by eating the recommended five servings of vegetables daily. Some people would prefer to supplement with them in capsule form.
Note from Dr. P:
A fasting lipid panel to test cholesterol is a basic screening test to determine if cholesterol is a problem. There is a more detailed test called a VAP that is extremely helpful if a person has a history of elevated or wrongly proportioned cholesterol ex: More bad than good. A VAP can also examine particle size of all the cholesterol molecules and determine which ones are more likely to be deposited within the artery walls.
For years, conventional doctors have relied on 3 numbers, total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL. More recently the conventional system is beginning to realize the importance of triglycerides in determining cardiovascular risk. Simply put, the more triglycerides- the more fat in the blood- the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease. This has been known among the integrative community for years. The problem is that there is no drug that lowers triglycerides as effectively as good old diet and exercise. Pass on the carbohydrates and the triglycerides will fall.
-Be Happy, Healthy, & Holistic