Cholesterol is of vital importance to our bodies. It forms the building blocks for both nervous system and reproductive hormones, as well as certain digestive enzymes and Vitamin D. You’ll find it in every cell of the body, providing structure to the cell membranes (outer covering.) The brain contains the most cholesterol, and assists with conduction of messages from the brain to the body. If you are low in cholesterol, the liver starts making it to continue optimal physical function. So despite all the bad press it has received, you might be correct in thinking that perhaps cholesterol is actually beneficial for us.
An overview on Cholesterol:
LDL (low density lipo-protein): The cell composition is low protein/high fat. An excess in the blood can cause the build-up of harmful plaque, which narrows arteries and creates added stress for the heart. Elevated blood pressure may occur as a result. The risk of stroke or heart attack is greatly increased if a clot on the blood vessel breaks away.
HDL (high density lipo-protein): The cell is composed of mainly protein; and is responsible for removing excess cholesterol and plaque. These are the “good” fats.
TG (triglycerides): These are fats that are produced from consumed unused calories. They are diverted to the liver or are deposited as fat (adipose tissue) on the body.
Cholesterol: the sum total of HDL, LDL and TG’s.
The reference ranges on blood test results are not really the best for analysing cholesterol. They are based on averages of blood tests that have been taken from thousands of patients. These people are usually unwell, so these ranges have their flaws. A better reference range could be sourced from healthy people instead.
Outdated thinking documented from the 1950’s still regards dietary fats as responsible for elevations of cholesterol. Fats indeed do raise LDL (bad fats), but also increase HDL (good fats). However, it is the hydrogenated, processed fats that are harmful. Plant fats such as avocado, coconut and nuts and seeds are beneficial. What you may not know is that the real culprits are refined carbohydrates and hidden sugars! They are in just about everything we eat! If you haven’t seen the movie The Magic Pill, it’s a great documentary to learn more about this.
Management of Cholesterol:
Diet is extremely important!
Foods to actively avoid:
Bread, pasta, rice, biscuits and cakes, soft drinks, coffee, refined cereals, alcohol, fried foods, corn chips, flour products, chocolate, sweeteners, dried fruit, processed foods. These break down to simple sugars and elevate cholesterol further.
Eat at least 1-2 cloves of garlic daily.
Other helpful foods: plain yoghurt, sauerkraut/kimchi, green tea, hawthorn berry tea. Raw vegetables provide lots of fibre which help move excess cholesterol out of the large intestine for elimination.
Linseed (flaxseed) oil: 1-2 tablespoons per day. Add it to vinegar to make a salad dressing, or put into smoothies.
Aim to eat 2 pieces of fresh fruit and at least 7 vegetables every day. Include leafy green vegetables and sprouts (mung bean, bean shoots, alfalfa.)
- Boiled eggs
- Plain yoghurt with chopped fruit
- Hommus dip with chopped vegetables
- Celery sticks with peanut or almond butter
- Almond milk smoothie with protein powder (flavoured or unflavoured, just watch the sugar content.)
- Mixed nuts: just a handful.
- Avoid fruit juice, instead, make your own vegetable juices. Try coconut water as a base and add baby spinach, celery, avocado with a teaspoon of spirulina powder for a super cleansing drink.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol which spike up blood sugar. Alcohol has empty calories and depletes many important vitamins and minerals. Coffee is irritating to the digestive tract and can elevate anxiety levels as well.
If you would like your cholesterol blood results interpreted, let’s look at them together and work toward a healthy cardiovascular system.
Yours in Health,