Eighty percent of the cholesterol you see on your blood test is actually made in the liver and not from the foods we eat. This is because cholesterol is absolutely essential to our body. There are 37 plus trillion cells in the body and every one of them requires cholesterol in its membrane. It is a precursor to vitamin D and the sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone). Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) which gets a bad rap as “bad cholesterol”, isn’t actually cholesterol at all. It's a carrier protein that delivers cholesterol to important places like your brain to insulate nerves. LDL only becomes a problem when excess sugar attaches to it and causes it to stick to the walls of the vessels narrowing the arteries and causing damage. Cholesterol then comes in as an attempt to repair the damage. So cholesterol gets blamed for starting the fire when its actually the fireman. This is why it is so important to balance our blood sugars. Other factors include saturated fat in the form of meat and dairy products that contribute to plaques on the walls of vessels and toxicity.
In studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) they found that the elderly with the lowest levels of cholesterol had the highest rates of dementia. What’s important is to eat the healthiest fats that are high in Omega 3s and DHA. These are the best plant-based sources of fats that are not only heart healthy but are excellent for hair, skin, and nails.
Healthy fats aren’t just important because they insulate your nerve endings and are the precursors for sex hormones, but they also have essential Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are crucial for fighting inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis), lowering triglycerides, preventing depression and beneficial to both dementia and ADHD.
Unhealthy fats are highly inflammatory because of high concentrations of Omega-6 fatty acids. The Standard American Diet is highly inflammatory with a typical ratio of 20 to 1 in favor of inflammatory Omega 6s. That typically come from animal-based products. So all fats aren’t created equal.
Most people are recommended to take fish oils as a supplement for healthy fats. However, new data has demonstrated that the Omega 3s found in fish are plant-derived and actually come from the algae they eat. The supplements provide a rancid form of fat that is inferior to plant-based sources. In addition, the large majority of fish is toxic and farm raised so its high in mercury, dioxins, antibiotics, and dyes used to color the meat of the fish to give the pink appearance. So if you thought there was something fishy about using them as a source of Omega 3s you were right.
Here are the healthiest plant sources:
- Avocados 🥑
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seed
- Cacao Nibs
In terms of omega-3 "power," a tablespoon of flaxseed oil is worth about 700 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve handed out countless prescriptions for statin drugs in the past. They were touted as the miracle drug when I was in pharmacy school. These cholesterol-lowering drugs were created around the “cholesterol” hype in the 1980s in order to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease (the number one killer of all humans). It’s now been discovered that the initial studies used to confirm their effectiveness exaggerated their benefits by using a manipulation tool in clinical studies called relative risk reduction (as opposed to absolute risk reduction). These drugs come with a host of nasty side effects that are often passed off as signs of aging. It's common for patients on the drugs to experience memory loss, muscle pain, sexual dysfunction, liver damage, digestive issues, and a life-threatening condition known as rhabdomyolysis. In addition, we now know that these drugs increase the risk for Type 2 Diabetes by 40% and despite there ability to lower cholesterol they are only effective in 1 out of 100 patients.
The most effective methods for addressing cholesterol are:
- Eating green leafy vegetables
- Consuming heart-healthy fats
- Eliminating animal-based products
- Aerobic exercise