Cholesterol levels: What you need to know
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
There are natural ways to achieve healthy and balanced cholesterol levels.
A hot topic in this country is the ongoing debate about dyslipidemia and its effect on cardiovascular disease. Dyslipidemia occurs when you have an abnormal blood level of lipids, which typically includes your total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides. In this country, statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) such as Lipitor are in the top 10 prescribed medicines and recent guidelines are attempting to put even more people over the age of 45 on statins.
I will leave the debate about the necessity of statin medications up to the researchers. However, as a Naturopathic Doctor and Docere (Doctor as teacher), educating patients is my job, because teaching is a principle and foundation of our medicine. Here are some facts you may wish to think about.
Why is Cholesterol Important?
Cholesterol is ESSENTIAL for all animal life (we are animals, by the way). The most important role in your body is forming and maintaining cell walls. Yes, every single cell in your body requires cholesterol to perform optimally.
Cholesterol is used by nerve cells for insulation.
Cholesterol is used by liver cells to make bile for digestion of fatty foods.
Cholesterol is used by the adrenals to make cortisol.
Cholesterol is used by many cells for cell signaling and intracellular communication.
Cholesterol is the precursor molecule (main ingredient) for the synthesis of steroid hormones including, but not limited to, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
The production of vitamin D requires cholesterol.
New research is showing that high (based upon American standards) cholesterol levels protect us from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Due to the importance of this molecule in our body and the side effects of statins, we most likely will find in the future that lowering cholesterol is not wise.
Cardiovascular Disease, Triglycerides and Cholesterol
One area that is being watched in relation to cardiovascular disease is your triglycerides (related to blood sugar levels) and your ratio of HDL to LDL. We typically like to see a 1:2 ratio; therefore, if your HDL is 60, your LDL should not be above 120, for they should balance each other. If you are in a situation where you need to shift this ratio, there are excellent choices in the natural world.
Natural Ways to Balance Cholesterol and Lower Triglycerides
Research shows that a high fiber diet, a vegetable based diet like the Mediterranean diet and less animal meats will help to balance these numbers. Certain foods like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, deep cold water fish (wild caught), Brussels sprouts, and kale have healthy omega 3s which also shift this ratio. Healthy blood sugar control and low carbohydrate diets lower triglycerides. Exercise decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and many other ailments that plague Americans.
The standard of care in America is to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes for 6 months prior to considering starting a statin medication. Have you done this? Contact your local Naturopathic Doctor for a deeper understanding of optimal health and useful guidelines and guidance on how to successfully accomplish your heart healthy goals.
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