I've attached a summary page about cholesterol and how to best evaluate your numbers. My hope is to calm people's fears about cholesterol. I hope it helps.
Saturated fats and cholesterol in the cell membrane give stiffness
and stability. With an excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, they replace the saturated fats and the cell walls become flabby. When this happens, cholesterol from the blood goes into the tissues to give them structural integrity. This is why blood cholesterol may go down initially when we replace saturated fats with polyunsaturates.
Cholesterol is the body’s natural healing substance that comes in to repair damage in blood vessels damaged through free radical irritation or viruses.
Cholesterol acts as a precursor to certain hormones, including testosterone
, estrogen and progesterone
Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, needed for healthy bones, nervous system, immunes system, insulin production and muscle tone
Bile salts are made from cholesterol. Bile is vital for digestion of fats.
Cholesterol is needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Low cholesterol has been linked to aggressive and violent behavior.
As an antioxidant, cholesterol protects us against free radical damage.
Dietary cholesterol plays an important role in maintaining the health of the intestinal wall. This is why low-cholesterol vegetarian diets can lead to leaky gut and other problems.
Taken from: “Nourishing Traditions,” by Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon, p. 12.
A recommended way of evaluating your cholesterol numbers is not looking at TOTAL only but at the ratio of TOTAL to HDL. This means divide TOTAL by HDL. Then see what category you are in:
Below 3.5 No risk
3.5 – 4.5Low risk
4.5 – 5.5Medium risk
Over 5.5High risk
Example: Total = 290 (seems scary) but divided by HDL of 79 = 3.7 which is ‘Low Risk’ = No worries.
Even using the conventional method and even assuming there is reason to look at cholesterol, many people have no concern even when the total is higher than what the doctors recommend.
HDLs should be higher than 75. LDLs should be lower than 100. Triglycerides should be lower than 150.
If HDLs are low and triglycerides high, this indicates too many carbohydrates and too little exercise. If LDLs are too high, you may have oxidative stress
or liver imbalances. OPC Synergy (1/day) from Standard Process and Globe Artichoke 1 tsp/day (from Mediherb) can help lower LDLs.
Taken from Dr Tom Cowan’s article: http://www.westonaprice.org/askdoctor/highcholesterol.html
Also coconut oil will help lower LDLs and raise HDL.
Cholesterol is only an innocent bystander to the problem of heart disease
. You can read this informative article by expert Ron Rosedale, MD to find out the details on why cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. http://www.mercola.com/2005/may/28/cholesterol_heart.htm
The causes of heart disease are much more complex, and rather than going out and getting your cholesterol tested, there are four, much more powerful, blood tests to indicate your heart disease risk.
Ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should be above 24%.
Triglycerides/HDL Ratio: Divide your triglyceride level by your HDL level. That percentage should be below 2.
Fasting Insulin: Normalizing your fasting insulin level is a powerful and effective way to not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but also cancer. Your level should be below 5.
Ferritin Levels: High iron levels will cause serious free radical damage, and are a FAR more important risk factor for heart disease than cholesterol levels. A simple blood test that measures ferritin levels can determine if your iron levels are dangerously elevated.
To lower your risk of heart disease, you need not focus solely on lowering your cholesterol. What you need to do is address the foundational causes, and some of the most effective ways to do this include:
Get plenty of exercise
Eat right for your nutritional type
Address your emotional stresses
Keep your vitamin D levels where they should be by getting adequate exposure to sunshine.