by Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac.

Know this: cholesterol itself is not a bad thing. In fact, cholesterol is one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy. Cholesterol comes from two sources – our body and our diet. Our liver, makes all the cholesterol we need and circulates it through the blood. But cholesterol is also found in foods, particularly animal sources including meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Our liver will produce even more cholesterol when we eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats.

There are two types of cholesterol – HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque, a thick, waxy hard buildup that can clog arteries and make them less pliable, causing atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease.

HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. These “scavengers”, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. HDL cholesterol may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

An excess amount of cholesterol can form plaque between layers of artery walls, making it harder for your heart to move blood through the arteries themselves. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. If it blocks an artery that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack.

Another factor in this equation is triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of fat, and they’re used to store excess energy from your diet. High levels of triglycerides in the blood are associated with atherosclerosis. Elevated triglycerides can be caused by overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (more than 60 percent of total calories).
1. Eggs. The latest controversy is that eggs do not raise your cholesterol levels. Most healthy people can eat up to 7 eggs a week without changing their blood chemistry. When deciding whether to include eggs in your diet, consider first, your health level (based on your last CBC blood work-up) and second, the recommended daily limits on cholesterol in your food. If your cholesterol levels are in range, consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day.

If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease, limit the daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200 mg a day.

If you like eggs but don’t want the extra cholesterol, use only the egg whites. All the cholesterol in eggs are in the yolks. Egg whites without the yolks are a heart-healthy source of protein. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg in baking

2. Try lean ham, Canadian bacon, turkey bacon and reduced fat sausage and bacon instead of regular sausage and bacon.

3. Season vegetables with lemon, garlic, onion, chives or pepper instead of animal fat.

4. Have cooked dry beans and peas instead of meat occasionally; or substitute for part of the meat in casseroles.

5. Bake, broil or boil with liquid vegetable oils in place of animal fat.

6. Eat moderate portions (3-4 ounces) rather then large servings of lean meats and poultry.

7. Select lean cuts of meat and trim visible fat; remove skin from poultry.

8. Try reduced fat or fat free varieties of milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream and yogurt.

9. Enjoy all types of seafood, including shellfish and canned fish packed in water.

10. Make an egg omelet using egg whites and either one or no egg yolk.

The Beef on Cholesterol

You often never hear anything good about cholesterol, but it actually has some very important functions in the body. Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance that helps the brain and nervous system operate normally, and it’s used to make cell walls, hormones and vitamin D.

Too much cholesterol in the blood is what creates a problem. A risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, high blood cholesterol increases the chance of plaque or blockages developing in arteries.

Lowering blood cholesterol can slow or stop the buildup of plaque. While your risk of cardiovascular disease depends on many factors, from genetics to lifestyle habits, keeping your blood cholesterol levels within ideal ranges can greatly lower your risk.

Consider some dietary changes, such as drinking green tea and eating more soluble fiber (oat bran), foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, walnuts), and leafy greens and fresh fruits. Foods like onions, garlic, chili peppers and shiitake mushrooms all have some cholesterol lowering effects. Reduce your intake of saturated fats. That means fats of animal origin, in addition to palm and coconut oils, margarine, vegetable shortening and all products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. (Keep in mind that your body makes its own cholesterol. Eating saturated fats increases that production.) Also, cut out coffee, black tea and cola.

Try to bring your cholesterol under control with a low-fat diet and daily exercise (at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity). These changes are essential to any cholesterol-lowering program, no matter what supplement or drug you take.

Cholestin is a natural supplement product with a very long history of traditional use Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cholestin comes from a strain of red yeast (Monascus) that is used as a natural flavoring and food coloring in Chinese cooking. The active component, Lovastatin, is also the key ingredient in an allopathic drug called Mevacor, an FDA-approved cholesterol drug available by prescription. Cholestin can be found in a health food store.

Limiting Saturated Fat Is Most Important

The cholesterol found in food (called dietary cholesterol),can raise your blood cholesterol. Only foods that come from animals contain cholesterol. Egg yolks, organ meats, and whole milk dairy products are especially high in cholesterol. To keep dietary intake of cholesterol at the recommended level of 300 milligrams (mg) per day or less:

-Avoid organ meats.

-Limit egg yolks to 4 per week.

-Eat no more than 6-8 ounces of meat/poultry/seafood per day.

-Choose fat free or low fat dairy products.

-Limiting dietary cholesterol is beneficial, but reducing saturated
fat intake is a much more effective way to lower blood cholesterol

-Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. They are found primarily in animal fats like poultry, beef, or dairy fat. Two vegetable oils, palm and coconut, are also highly saturated, as are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated (solid) vegetable shortenings.

-Unsaturated fats that include monounsaturated (olive and canola oils) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower and sunflower oils) are the healthiest choices.

Fiber, Flaxseed, Garlic, Guggul, Yeast

Dietary fiber is the part of a plant that is resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes. Only a relatively small amount of fiber is digested or metabolized in the stomach or intestines. Most of it moves through the gastrointestinal tract and ends up in the stool. Although most fiber is not digested, it delivers several important health benefits.

First, fiber retains water, resulting in softer and bulkier stools that prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet also reduces the risk of colon cancer, perhaps by speeding the rate at which stool passes through the intestine and by keeping the digestive tract clean. In addition, fiber binds with certain substances that would normally result in the production of cholesterol, and eliminates these substances from the body.

In this way, a high-fiber diet helps lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.It is recommended that about 30-60 percent of your total daily calories come from carbohydrates. If much of your diet consists of healthy complex carbohydrates, you should easily fulfill the recommended daily minimum of 25 grams of fiber. About 2 slices of whole wheat bread and 2 glasses of dissolvable fiber (psyllium husk, pectin and guar gum) a day equals the requirement for lowering cholesterol levels.

Flaxseed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant. Flaxseed oil and flaxseed contain substances that promote good health and is used as a nutritional supplement. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid, which appears to be beneficial for heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, cholesterol and a variety of other health conditions. Flaxseed also contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in the prevention of cancer. Take 1,000 mg of flaxseed oil in the morning and 1,000 mg in the evening.

Garlic. So much research has been done on the great benefits of garlic. In Europe, garlic has come to be seen as an all-around treatment for preventing atherosclerosis, the cause of heart disease and strokes. Garlic may fight atherosclerosis in many ways, such as protecting against free radicals, countering the tendency of the blood to clot, and possibly reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Preliminary evidence suggests that regular use of garlic may help prevent cancer. Garlic may be an effective antibiotic when it contacts the tissue directly, but there is no evidence that it works like a standard antibiotic, spreading throughout the body and killing organisms everywhere. Garlic has known antifungal properties,and there is preliminary evidence suggesting that Ajoene, a compound derived from garlic, might help treat athlete’s foot. Garlic has also been proposed as a treatment for asthma, candida, colds, diabetes, and vaginal infections. Garlic oil products are often recommended for children’s ear infections. While these products may reduce pain, it is very unlikely that they have any actual effect on the infection because the eardrum is in the way. Contrary to some reports, garlic does not appear to be a useful treatment for Helicobacter pylori, the stomach bacteria implicated as a major cause of ulcers. One clove a day or 900 mg a day is recommended.

Guggul (gum guggul) is a resin produced by the mukul mirth tree. Guggulipid is extracted from guggul and contains chemicals called “plant sterols” (guggulsterones E and Z), which are believed to be active in the human body. Experts from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, found that the extract blocks the body’s Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR). This receptor plays a key role in managing cholesterol levels by triggering the process in which the body converts cholesterol to bile acids.

It this process happens too quickly the body is not able to get rid of enough cholesterol, leaving levels high and increasing the risks of heart disease. The researchers said their findings, published in the latest issue of Science magazine (May 2002), could pave the way for the use of guglipid in new cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Guggul is a resin known to increase white blood cell counts and possess strong disinfecting properties. A wide range of actions makes this plant very helpful not only in protecting against the common cold, but also in various skin, dental and ophthalmic infections. In addition, Guggul has long been known to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintaining or improving the HDL to LDL ratio. Standard guggul extracts contain 5% guggulsterones which tanslates to a dose of 500mg three times a day.

Red yeast rice is the product of yeast ( Monascus purpureus ) grown on rice, and is served as a dietary staple in some Asian countries. It contains several compounds collectively known as monacolins, substances known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. One of these, “monacolin K,” is a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, and is also known as mevinolin or lovastatin. The use of red yeast rice in China was first documented in the Tang Dynasty in 800 A.D. A detailed description of its manufacture is found in the ancient Chinese pharmacopoeia. In this text, red yeast rice is proposed to be a mild aid for gastric problems (indigestion, diarrhea), blood circulation, and spleen and stomach health. Small scale studies using pharmaceutical-grade red rice yeast have continued to demonstrate efficacy and safety.

Blood Lipid Guidelines

Total Cholesterol
Desirable……….<200 mg/dl
Borderline High…..200 – 239 mg/dl
High…………….>240 mg/dl
LDL Cholesterol
Optimal…………<100 mg/dl
Above optimal……100 – 129 mg/dl
Borderline high….130 – 159 mg/dl
High……………160 – 189 mg/dl
Very High……….>190 mg/dl
HDL Cholesterol
Low…………….<40 mg/dl Male
……………….<45 mg/dl Female
Optimal…………>60 mg/dl Male/Female
Normal…………<150 mg/dl
Borderline………150 – 199 mg/dl
High……………200 – 499 mg/dl
Very High……….>500 mg/dl

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