How can you lower cholesterol naturally without drastically altering your lifestyle and micromanaging your meals? It IS very simple, but first a few words about cholesterol levels and heart disease. The impact of cholesterol levels on heart disease has been greatly exaggerated.
Here are a few facts about the relationship of cholesterol levels to heart attacks and strokes:
- Half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels
- In the famous Framingham Study people with the highest cholesterol levels lived the longest
- In this same study it was found that people with the lowest cholesterol levels had the highest rate of death from all causes.
The truth is that while cholesterol is involved in the process of atherosclerosis, it does not cause or initiate this process. Atherosclerosis involves small dense highly inflammatory cholesterol particles called Lp(a) that get lodged in the arteries and form plaques that can block blood flow and if the plaques harden and break off they can travel upstream and cause blockages in smaller arteries called “ischemic strokes.”
The small dense highly inflammatory LDL particles get lodged in artery walls and cause the damage that leads to heart attacks and strokes. If your cholesterol levels are high (above 250) and you have these particles, you are at increased risk for heart disease. If however your cholesterol is high and your LDL particles are the large low density type, then your risk is very low.
Inflammation is the key when you are trying to determine your risk for heart disease and there are several tests that can be helpful. C-reactive protein, serum homocystiene, and fasting blood sugar, will tell you more about your risk of heart disease than the standard cholesterol profile that most doctors still use. So with all this said, why would you still want to lower cholesterol?
The answer is that you don't want to lower it by artificial means, using statin drugs block production of cholesterol which is a normal and necessary process. You want to lower cholesterol naturally by eating a diet of fresh non-processed foods, getting enough fiber, getting enough vitamin-D, exercising properly, and keeping inflammation low in your body.
Cholesterol is also an antioxidant, and it increases in response to inflammation in your body. So when your cholesterol is lowered naturally it means that your body does not have to make as much cholesterol to synthesize vitamin-D and fight oxidation in your body. So with that said, here are some of the simple steps you can take to keep your cardiovascular system healthy and thus your cholesterol at naturally optimal levels.
Make sure you get enough vitamin-D
When your vitamin-D levels are low, your body makes more cholesterol which in turn it uses to bio-synthesize vitamin-D. Thus you need to get at least 20 minutes of daily sunlight or if you live in a cold climate take supplemental vitamin D3 daily. How much? According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the minimum daily intake for a normal healthy person should be 2,000 units a day. If you have a medical condition check with your doctor to see if taking a vitamin-D supplement is safe in your particular instance.
Limit your intake of carbohydrates to under 150 grams per day
This includes both simple and complex carbs. Ideal carbohydrates would be non-starchy vegetables. Limit grains especially wheat, and stay completely away from simple sugars like deserts and alcohol. I little indulgence in these things from time to time is ok, but not on a steady basis.
Avoid long slow cardiovascular exercise
You need about 15 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times per week. This can be in the form of circuit weight training, internal training, kettlebells, sprints on a track or elliptical machine, or an exercise system such as PACE by Dr. Al Sears. Long duration cardio training can raise your levels of stress hormones and actually accelerate the aging process.
Short brief but intense bouts of exercise have a much healthier effect on your hormonal system, and your blood lipid profile. Doing these simple things on a daily and weekly basis, you can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, and you will get a leaner better looking body as well. When you lower cholesterol naturally your health benefits across the board.