Cholesterol - Is it the enemy?

Cholesterol - Is it the enemy?

I am so tired of seeing so many cholesterol drug commercials on TV! You'd be surprised to know cholesterol isn't the enemy or the problem! In fact, cholesterol is very important for a number of functions in our body.

Cholesterol is actually a sterol - or a modified type of steroid our body makes. Sterols are also found in plants and other animal tissues because every animal or mammal cell membrane must have cholesterol for membrane health.

Some doctors urge their patients to take cholesterol-lowering medications even when their cholesterol isn't high; their hope is to prevent high cholesterol. In some cases, however, they go to extremes. A recent paper published in the American Journal of Cardiology by Dr. Darrell Francis of the Imperial College in London suggested that fast food restaurants should provide free cholesterol-lowering medications along with their cheeseburgers and fries. Why, you ask? To offset the harmful health effects of these fat-rich foods! I understand their frustration, because people eat so unhealthily and high cholesterol is undoubtedly one of the causes of chronic illness, including heart disease and stroke.

Your body makes 800 to 1500 mg of cholesterol daily. It is not an essential nutrient or fat we need to obtain from our diet. Cholesterol in your diet only comes from animal foods like milk, red meats, pork, eggs, poultry, and more. Cholesterol is not found in any plant foods, however, other sterols are, helping remove excess cholesterol from our bodies.

Cholesterol sure gets a lot of attention, but cholesterol isn't the evil it is made out to be! It gets the bad rep because its fingerprints (higher amounts of LDL, "bad" cholesterol, and lower amounts of HDL, or the "good" cholesterol) are found in your blood. And because it is present in levels above what is deemed a safe amount, we are taught to believe that cholesterol is the enemy and we must take drugs to lower it. This simply isn't true, unless you have a condition causing your body to make excessive amounts of cholesterol.

Why is cholesterol a problem?

Higher amounts of sugar in your blood cause sores and ulcers to form in your veins and arteries. To heal them, the body uses cholesterol as a patch. This is also called plaque. The American diet is so rich in sugary foods that it causes cholesterol to stay in the blood constantly patching sores.

More simply, it's the lack of fiber in our foods that's causing our problem with cholesterol. Foods like cereals, sugary drinks, chain-based smoothies, colas, pastries, candies, cookies, crackers, breads, stuffing, too much high sugar fruit and too many grains are adding to the problem!

Reducing Cholesterol levels

If you have higher levels of cholesterol and need to reduce the levels, your NutriBullet is a great tool! A diet rich in fiber helps remove dietary cholesterol and bile from the body.

  • Eat fiber-rich foods
    • 1 to 2 ounces of nuts and seeds every day
  • Exercise particularly intense intervals (get doctor's approval before exercising)
  • If you smoke, quit!
  • Avoid foods with added sugars
  • Avoid or highly limit the intake of fatty animal foods (red meats, pork, dairy)

Best foods to reduce cholesterol

  • Avocados
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts)
  • Rice bran and rice bran oil
  • Oranges
  • Artichokes
  • Beans
  • Red yeast rice
  • Oily nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds,)
  • Flax seed oil (also known as linseed oil)
  • Raw chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Whole, low glycemic grains (oats, wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth)
  • Olive oil
  • Acai berries
  • Cinnamon

Healthy Wishes!

Certified Nutritional Consultant

Comment by JaxRiley
June 12, 2015
I know about the red meat and limiting animal products for cholesterol and I rarely eat red meat or pork, BIG seafood/sashimi lover. My question is, is the cholesterol from fish "better" than what one would get by eating a lot of sugary baked goods? I guess my real question is do I also need to limit my consumption of fish as that is my primary 'meat' I eat. The obvious mercury aside, as I'm aware of that issue.
Comment by kimani
February 22, 2015
my cholesterol is 119 and my doctor want to put me on statin I refuse to take
Reply by KelRob
April 08, 2016
119 is good. Your doctor must be getting a kick back from the pharmaceutical company.
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