Why not everyone thinks “high Cholesterol” is high…
Cholesterol is essential to your health. Every cell in your body needs it to make vitamin D, to make cell membranes, for making hormones including estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, more… Cholesterol-derived hormones maintain calcium levels to build strong bones and muscles, keep our blood sugar levels balanced, and help manage stress. So why the bad rap?
Is cholesterol above 180 mg/dL really a problem? Is that even the right target?
Only when your body doesn’t get the cholesterol it needs from your diet, OR due to many possible health issues, your body may make excessive amounts of some cholesterol types and not enough of others. But total blood cholesterol measures do not provide a complete picture. To say a person’s cholesterol is “high” ignores the wide body of science that suggests higher levels protect us from early aging, from Alzheimers, and improve cardiac health: I should say that again heart disease isn’t determined by high total cholesterol.
High total cholesterol should not be used alone to make medical decisions.
Why is cholesterol given such a bad rap? Why do drug advertisements remind us that “high cholesterol is associated with increased risk of heart disease”?
With $11 billion in annual profits at stake, pharmaceutical companies omit key facts: we’ve dutifully removed fat from our diets (for decades); we have followed American Heart Association recommendations (for decades); despite all this, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Cholesterol-lowering drugs have many other side effects; dietary solutions don’t! (and they are more effective!).
However, more and more science is showing that forcing cholesterol to 180mg/dL or below can increase your risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic infections, and more. Dietary shifts that ADD nutrient-dense anti-oxidant foods make more sense.
Your total cholesterol score is calculated as: Total LDL + Total HDL + 20% Triglycerides.
In other words, if your triglycerides are high, even though they are *not* a form of cholesterol, you can be told that your total cholesterol is high. High triglycerides are caused by a different problem—also a nutritional situation and isn’t changed with medications.
What is important is which form of cholesterol—and also triglycerides. Let’s look at target numbers:
- LDL healthy target is <150 mg/dL
- HDL healthy target is >60 mg/dL
Stop right there—if both those are on target then, using current guidelines, we have 210 mg/dL total cholesterol without taking into account any triglycerides. At 210 mg/dL, your doctor will say that you have “borderline high cholesterol” (need I say that having zero triglycerides is unhealthy? Not to mention impractical?). Let’s add in the triglycerides:
- Triglyceride healthy target is <150 mg/dL (take 150 and put it into our cholesterol calculation: 20% = 30 mg/dL)
Add all those healthy levels up and you get total cholesterol = 240 mg/dL. Great. This is the agreed-on medical cutoff from “borderline high cholesterol” to “high cholesterol” (and take this prescription for _____statin).
What about heart disease?
I was being urged by my MD to take medication for blood pressure and bad cholesterol. After following Phyllis’s Clinical Nutrition program, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is in the correct ratio and has dropped 42 points. My other doctor is amazed! He says my profile is now better than his!” says David M.
The simplistic view of lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease should have never been adopted, coming as it did from what is simply bad science (and bad math). Just because two things associate does not mean one causes the other.
The current 180 mg/dl target for total cholesterol is controversial.
We now know that low cholesterol can result in higher risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
Statins, the most-prescribed cholesterol lowering class of medication, do prevent cells from making cholesterol. But how they improve risk of heart disease is by a completely different mechanism: Statins act as antioxidants. More on that later.
Giving out Statins like candy also stops the brain from making the cholesterol it needs to remain healthy. Cholesterol does not cross the blood-brain barrier—Stating drugs do. Statins starve the brain of it’s cholesterol, which is vital for nerve membrane health and other functions. No one knows what the long-term effects are.
Cholesterol has a job to do
Basically, your liver makes cholesterol to form bile and digest fats, then to carry fats and fatty nutrients to all of the cells in the body (LDL-cholesterol), then receive waste products from the cells and carry them back to the liver (HDL-cholesterol) where toxic waste is broken down and eliminated.
Does that make them “good” or “bad” ? NO
You need a health program. Period.
A nutritional health program achieves optimal ratios between LDL and HDL, meets all nutritional requirements, and makes sure you have plenty of anti-oxidants while reducing anti-foods and other sources of chronic inflammation (the real causes of heart disease).
…high total cholesterol levels [do not cause] atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, it is not advisable to lower cholesterol levels by any direct means” states Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD, a distinguished researcher. This has been known for decades.
My cholesterol went from nearly 300 and all the wrong ones, to below 220. I also was able to stop taking cholesterol medications and keep the “good” cholesterol profile. The best news is that as I improved my diet I gained so much more energy. —Catherine H
It is true that high triglycerides, high LDL-cholesterol, and low HDL-cholesterol are problematic and a good predictor of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. These are signs the body is imbalanced; a situation that is accompanied by a vast number of health problems including heart disease and obesity.
But one does not cause the other, they simply travel together.
Drug-free, side-effect free, nutrition-based strategies should be used to improve your cholesterol profiles and your entire nutritional balance.
Take the right steps today. Understand why your triglycerides are high and your cholesterol profile is our of range. Find out what your body needs to achieve optimal cholesterol balance.
Knowledge is power: Weed out the false information and get your health back on track today.
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Medina‐Remón, A., Casas, R., Tressserra‐Rimbau, A., Ros, E., Martínez‐González, M. A., Fitó, M., … on behalf of the PREDIMED Study Investigators. (2017). Polyphenol intake from a Mediterranean diet decreases inflammatory biomarkers related to atherosclerosis: a substudy of the PREDIMED trial. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 83(1), 114–128.