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Aren’t You Worried about All that Cholesterol?

Posted Dec 08 2009 2:00am
You say you’re a health reporter. Aren’t you worried about all that cholesterol?”

I was having breakfast with an old friend last weekend. Carter wanted to know how I could justify my breakfast of over-easy eggs. “Doesn’t that contradict what you write about?” he asked.

Oh, great… here we go again, I thought.

I withheld the explanation of the flawed ‘lipid hypothesis.’ And I didn’t tell him why the ‘cholesterol theory of heart disease’ is bogus. But I did let him know that dietary cholesterol is not a concern of mine.

“Did you know that half of heart attacks occur in people with ‘normal’ cholesterol?” I asked.  This was shown in the Women’s Health Study – a study or more than 28,000 women. Researchers discovered that 46 percent of all first-time cardiovascular events occurred in women with cholesterol levels under the ‘desirable’ target set by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

 “And did you know that ‘high’ cholesterol levels are associated with longer life in the elderly?” I asked Carter. “And better brain health?”

It is not ‘cholesterol you need worry about. Damaged cholesterol is the problem.

Cholesterol is vital to your health. You can’t live without it…

Cholesterol is integral to your cell membranes. It helps to make up your nerve fibers. And it is vital for the production of sex hormones. Cholesterol is so important that your body does not rely on food sources alone.

For most people, less than 20 percent of our total cholesterol comes from what we eat. The rest is made by the body. That is why trying to reduce your cholesterol by eating less of it can be futile. The less you consume, the more your body will produce.

What you want to avoid is cholesterol that has been damaged by oxidation. This changes its chemical structure. It is damaged cholesterol that has been associated with the risk of heart disease. Animal and human studies have shown that “oxidized LDL” is a far better predictor of risk than overall cholesterol levels.

“Bad” cholesterol is irrelevant…

About 30 years ago, forward-thinking researchers began to understand that LDL cholesterol is not a reliable risk factor for heart disease. This understanding is just now entering the mainstream.

One study of elderly Belgians showed that increased levels of oxidized LDL were associated with a significant increase in the risk of heart attack. However, overall levels of LDL cholesterol were not associated with heart disease risk at all.

Another study consisted of Japanese patients who had surgery to remove plaque from their arteries. The oxidized LDL levels in these patients were much higher than the levels in healthy subjects. The plaques themselves also showed much higher levels of oxidized cholesterol than healthy sections of their arteries.

Keep your cholesterol healthy with antioxidants…

About 10 years ago, researchers in Sweden compared the risk factors of two groups of men – one group from Sweden and another from Lithuania. The men from Lithuania were four times more likely to die from heart disease.

There were very few differences in their risk factors. However, one big difference was that the men from Lithuania had much lower cholesterol levels. According to mainstream theory, this should have put them at a lower risk for heart disease. But they were suffering at a much higher rate.

What the researchers discovered is that even though these men had much lower total cholesterol levels, their oxidized cholesterol was significantly higher. They also found that these men had much lower levels of dietary antioxidants!

What does this tell you?

What this tells me – and leading researchers in the field – is that consuming a diet rich in antioxidants is vital to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

It is also important to consume a low-glycemic diet and reduce omega-6 fats. High-glycemic carbs and unhealthy fats both increase oxidation and inflammation.

It also suggests that those annual “cholesterol screenings” could be a big waste of time. The better indicator of health is your level of oxidized cholesterol and the ratio of oxidized LDL to HDL.

The good news is that there is a test for both of these. The tests are provided by a company called Shiel Medical Laboratory. They might not be covered by insurance, but the out-of-pocket cost is less than $125 – and well worth it, if you ask me.

To Your Great Health,

Jon Herring
Editorial Director
Total Health Breakthroughs

Publisher’s Note: Total Health Breakthroughs has developed a multi-antioxidant blend that we will be releasing in just a few weeks. It is a bright purple powder, brimming with polyphenols, anthocyanins, pterostilbine and resveratrol. Just mix it with a bit of water, and you have a veritable fountain of youth in a glass.

Before we release the product to the public, we are inviting a small number of readers to test it (and receive a significant discount!) If you’re interested, you can put your name on the list here.

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