What is Cholesterol and What Does it Do
Many people do not understand what the cholesterol facts are; they take for granted that to have high cholesterol is undesirable and you should take statins to reduce the readings.
Cholesterol is absolutely essential to your health. It is made by your liver. Following is a list of some of the important roles it plays in supporting your good health:
- sunlight converts cholesterol into vitamin D
- essential in the making of hormones including testosterone, progesterone and estrogen
- helps to make bile, an essential part of digestion
- maintains cell walls and structure
- helps cells adjust to changes in temperature
- nerves cells use cholesterol for insulation
Most cholesterol is made by the body, with some coming from diet. When you don’t include cholesterol-containing foods (animal fats) in your diet, your body makes more. When you do eat a lot of cholesterol-containing foods, your body makes less.
Most people don’t understand their cholesterol test results and start taking the statins recommended by their GP without a thought.
Here, I want to give you the information you need to make up your own mind. I’m a great believer in retaining control of your own health. No one has more interest in retaining your good health than you do.
Understanding LDL, HDL, Heart Problems and Damaged Cholesterol
On it’s own, high cholesterol levels do not contribute to a higher risk of heart related disease or any other health problem, as forensic science (among others) has discovered.
What is more important is the different levels of lipoprotein, which carry your cholesterol around in your blood. These come under the headings of LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein).
LDL and HDL are not different types of cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol to your arteries, so is mistakenly called ‘bad’ cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries to your liver, so is mistakenly called ‘good’ cholesterol.
The cholesterol found in animal protein is not necessarily harmful to your cholesterol levels on its own. However, damaged cholesterol is a totally different matter. Damaged cholesterol comes about from heating the fats to high temperatures and processing it.
This means that if you ate your animal protein raw, you would not consume damaged cholesterol.
Cooked and processed meats are good sources of damaged cholesterol and free radicals, which increase your LDL levels. And it’s the higher LDL levels which increase your risk of heart disease. Not high cholesterol.
By lowering your cholesterol, you may not be doing anything to your LDL levels, the main culprit, and you may lower your HDL, your main helper, despite claims to the contrary.
Diet is critical to your overall healthy cholesterol. By consuming a predominantly plant based diet rich in nutrients, your cholesterol is likely to be healthy, whatever the individual readings may be. Limiting your consumption of cooked and processed animal protein will naturally lower your LDL levels.
Interpreting Your Test Results
Here are some readings that are considered safe and healthy by many health practitioners.
A minimum cholesterol level of 150 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) is considered best.
Sadly, 70 mg/dL (or lower) is now cited as the best level to achieve. Of course, this ensures a steady sale of the statins. But does it ensure better health for you?
Whilst a natural low level can be perfectly safe, all things considered, an artificially lowered one is unlikely to do anything other than harm your long term health.
Other readings need to be considered in the totality of your cholesterol levels.
The ratio of HDL/cholesterol should be 25% or more. Lower reading can indicate an increased risk of heart related problems.
The triglyceride/HDL ratio should be 2.0 or lower.
Even those who have a cholesterol of 350 mg/dL (9.0 mmol/L) or more have been shown to have no increased risk of heart disease as long as their ratios are within the indicated range and they don’t consume damaged cholesterol.
So make sure you obtain a copy of your test results and then do your homework before deciding what to do.
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs, the Statins
The statins are those drugs which artificially lower your cholesterol levels. They include lipitor, mevacor, zocor, pravachol and lescol. These drugs are known to cause cancer in rodents.
Please note that low fat diets are not necessarily healthy as damaged cholesterol may still be a part of the diet.
What are the Side Effects of Statins?
They include the inhibiting of CoQ10, along with the enzyme in your liver that manufactures cholesterol. CoQ10 contributes to good heart health.
Debilitating muscle pain is another common side effect and these pains can take months to disappear, even after stopping the drug. This muscle pain can indicate that body tissue is breaking down. This can lead to serious kidney damage.
Other serious side effects include liver damage, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headaches, skin rash, disturbed memory and flu like symptoms. But with inadequate cholesterol, your vitamin D levels will be low, your body may not be able to make hormones adequately and your cells are likely to malfunction.
Understanding the cholesterol facts are essential before you can make an informed choice.
For natural health care, you would find it difficult to find anything better than homeopathy. Find out if I can help you here.
Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD.
Dr Ben Kim
Dr. Matthew Budoff
Ray D Strand
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