In 2013, 56% of Americans purchased functional foods to target a specific health condition, with cholesterol lowering foods placing at the top of the list at 29%.
Cholesterol is widely distributed throughout all the cells in the body, where it is utilized to make important hormones (including Vitamin D), maintain cell membrane integrity, support proper neurological function, and to assist with fat digestion by making bile. Adequate levels of HDL cholesterol are also required for brain and psychological health.
Currently, conventional medicine follows a protocol of lowering cholesterol levels considered to be too high. More progressive minded doctors argue that high levels of cholesterol are a result of inflammation in the body; particularly plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Cholesterol is required to repair and rebuild injured/ inflamed tissue. When inflammation in the body is widespread, cholesterol production kicks into high gear to help mend the damage being done. This is why calming inflammation should be the primary focus and is a more correct approach for getting to the root of the problem.
The evolution of “normal” cholesterol levels as decided by the National Cholesterol Education Program (8 of the 9 doctors advising on the panel received monetary compensation from statin-producing drug companies) :
100mg LDL or 70mg LDL for high risk patients
Dig deeper with lab values to discover your true cholesterol risk:
Total Cholesterol: HDL ratio : < 4
LDL: Not all LDL is harmful. Look for your VLDL levels to be in the range of : 5-30mg/ dL
HDL : Cholesterol ratio: > 24%
Triglycerides : HDL ratio: < 2
Fasting blood sugar: < 79mg/ dL
Iron levels: Ferritin should be ≤ 80ng/ mL
C-Reactive Protein (determines heart disease risk):
Low risk- < 1.0 mg/ L
Average- 1.0-3.0 mg/ L
High- > 3.0 mg/ L
Fibrinogen (a protein that aids in blood clotting) :
200-400 mg/ dL
Maintain a diet that suits your blood type :
Studies have shown a strong correlation between blood types A and AB and elevated levels of cholesterol. These blood types have a tendency to over-produce LDL, and have difficulty metabolizing fat. A vegetarian/ vegan diet is recommended. Though a diet free of refined foods (white flour, white sugar, etc.) that’s low in animal protein is an excellent place to start.
Proteins: Organic soy products (preferably fermented), lentils, pinto beans, green beans, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seed/ seed butter, egg whites, kefir, small amounts of non-homogenized cultured yogurt and cottage/ ricotta cheese.
* some reports suggest that the process of homogenization creates a by-product called xanthine oxidase (XO) which has been shown to cause inflammation of the inner lining of vessels, which then triggers cholesterol production to patch the damage. While there are reports that contradict these findings, many of them are likely funded by the dairy industry. When you’re not sure… assume that nature has it right. There are almost always undesirable consequences when a food is taken out of its natural state (that includes supplements).
Carbohydrates: Most leafy greens/ fibrous vegetables (especially vitamin A rich varieties like yellow squash, carrots, spinach, and broccoli), whole grains (particularly amaranth), berries, sea vegetables.
Misc: Ginger, brewer’s and baker’s yeast, green tea, red wine, warm water with lemon juice, fresh garlic.
Stress reduction via:
Vigorous exercise (at least 3 days per week of cardiovascular and strength training 30 minutes of each or more).
Meditation- Two 15 minute sessions per day.
Supplements: Terminalia arjuna, Inula racemosa, Betaine Hcl, adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Cordyceps*, Asian Ginseng, and Licorice, Chyawanprash, Lotus Blooming Herbs Shilajit, prescription high dose fish oil*, probiotics, NattoKinase*, Boluoke, turmeric with Meriva*, Ubiquinol*, pomegranate extract, kyolic garlic (if you prefer not to eat raw cloves).
* Underlined supplements should be given top priority. All others can be considered on an as-needed basis.
I am often asked about red yeast rice. Because it is chemically identical to the popular cholesterol drug Lovastatin, it also comes with the same side effects. Therefore, I recommend trying the above listed methods first.
Cholesterol checklist- I love this comprehensive, research based (mostly holistic) protocol from Life Extension.
All written contents are copyright 2015 by Vivian Kanchian, Holistic Nutritionist for Anti Aging. No reuse or re-publication without permission. Please note that the information provided on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein is intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure any illness or medical condition. Consult a doctor before beginning any diet or exercise regimen or before taking vitamins or supplements. Statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.