IS CHOLESTEROL AS BAD AS IT’S MADE OUT TO BE?

You received the dreadful news from your primary care physician, and you have high cholesterol. The odds are very good, they will be writing you a prescription for a pharmaceutical drug. A holistic approach to correcting the diagnosis will not only assist in lowering your cholesterol it will help maintain it in the healthy range. Please note I will never encourage you to stop taking your meds.

Cholesterol is not the enemy. It is a steroid that is essential for the maintenance of the body’s cells. The nutrient is made in the liver and transported through the bloodstream to the sites where it is needed. It is imperative that your system has a supply of cholesterol to maintain proper cell structure, brain and nerve function, and for the manufacturing of sex hormones. Cholesterol is so crucial for the maintenance of good health that if not enough comes from food, the liver will produce it.

Medical doctors do not worry about cholesterol in the cells, but when the levels in the blood get high, the substance can clog arteries and put a strain on the heart. Typically, most cholesterol is found in cells, and only a small amount is discovered in the blood.

The cholesterol reading alone is not enough to say that your health is at risk. It is also important to include your triglyceride and lipoprotein levels in the equation. An elevated triglyceride level indicates your liver or pancreas, are functioning poorly. It is alarming because triglycerides are the blood fats and may play a part in clogging the arteries with harmful plaque. Lipoproteins are compounds composed of fat and protein and are separated by high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The ‘good’ or ‘exercise’ cholesterol is HDL, which are low in cholesterol and high in phospholipids and they lessen the chance of heart disease. LDLs contain high levels of cholesterol and tend to stick to the walls of arteries and build up as plaque.

There is more to holistically correcting levels than removing cholesterol-rich foods. Regardless, you would have some amount of serum (found in the bloodstream) cholesterol even if you never ate any product containing dietary (found in food) cholesterol because the body must produce it for optimum health. Your system can make as much as 1500 mg of cholesterol a day, more than six times the amount customarily eaten.

Instead of cutting out every food that contains cholesterol, a better approach is to add more fiber to your diet. Roughage increases the speed at which the body eliminates cholesterol, and the benefits of fiber will improve your health in countless ways. I’m a big advocate for eating a ‘real’ food diet. That is a menu full of fruit, vegetables, wholes grains, legumes, soy protein, nuts, and seeds. A meal of meat and dairy products is a big source of dietary cholesterol. While, grains, vegetables, and fruits are free of cholesterol. A wonderful perk to eating ‘real’ food, you don’t have to count calories or points or read labels. Whole foods are nutrient dense, and they are incredibly filling.

Limiting alcohol, cakes, candy, carbonated drinks, coffee, processed or refined foods, and tobacco, will not only help in lowering cholesterol, but your body will thank you with better health. A diet loaded with refined sugars will lead to an unhealthy buildup of fats in the liver and tissues. It also lowers the level of healthy HDL and increases the undesirable LDL. Alcohol beverages are high in refined sugar and should be sipped sporadically or even avoided.

The benefits of garlic are undeniable. Adding garlic to your favorite dishes is most beneficial, capsules and pills are least effective. Studies have shown garlic inspires cholesterol reduction and protects the arterial lining from damage caused by oxidation. Garlic prevents thrombosis, the cause of arterial blood clots and the main reason for strokes and heart attacks. Green and black teas have shown to lower undesirable forms of cholesterol, also.

HDL is often referred to the exercise cholesterol. Physical activity can help raise the good HDL and lower lousy LDL levels. Plus, you will never achieve optimum health without moving. Another good guy who has gotten a raw deal is the mighty sun. Sunlight, or rather the lack of it, has shown to have adverse effects on cholesterol levels. I am not suggesting rubbing yourself with baby oil but enjoying occasional stints of sunshine. Slip on your shoes and hat and head out the door for a brisk walk. The sun on your shoulders and wind in your hair is an excellent prescription for wellbeing.

Adding a few supplements to your daily routine will also assist in improving your cholesterol numbers. First, I recommend niacin. Also known as B3, this vitamin is important to help control your cholesterol levels. Note people with hepatitis should not take it. Second, is vitamin C. It is a partnership with niacin and vitamin C. The pair works together with the ascorbic acid enhancing the effects of niacin. And finally, taking vitamin E. It not only improves circulation to the heart, but it also helps protect cells from free radicals and slows aging.

Lowering cholesterol naturally demands a dietary and lifestyle shift. It is only you who can make the change. And it is never too late to become a happier and healthier you!

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