By now, you would have heard that high cholesterol is bad, HDL is the “good” cholesterol, and LDL is “bad.” This is NOT a true statement. In today’s video, we’ll explain the truth about cholesterol and heart disease, and what it really means when you have high cholesterol.
We’ll also give you 8 tips you can act on right away to have healthy cholesterol without meds. By the end of this important video, you’ll understand more about reducing abnormal cholesterol naturally than 99% of people.
Many people are shocked when they hear that LDL or “low-density lipoprotein” by itself is not the problem. Instead, the main culprit that causes atherosclerosis, or blocked arteries, is oxidized LDL. Think of oxidized LDL as the rust on an old car.
So, what is LDL?
First, LDL is not cholesterol, it’s a protein. LDL (and HDL) are carrier proteins that transport life-sustaining cholesterol and triglycerides, and other nutrients like CoQ10 and vitamins to every cell in the body.
And, what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an important fatty substance produced by your liver. It helps to build strong cell membranes, and produce hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen, as well as vitamin D.
However, it’s critical to distinguish between cholesterol made by your liver, and that which you consume. We’ll circle back to this point in just a minute.
Now, let’s get back to LDL.
Most people do not know there’s actually two types of LDL particles.
The type of LDL that is bad, is small, dense LDL particles, also called type-B LDL particles. And the type of LDL that is good, is large, fluffy type-A LDL particles.
Even though LDL is said to be bad, some people with a high LDL number do not get coronary artery disease. This is because they have lots of type-A LDL particles.
So, why is type-B, or smaller LDL particles considered bad or dangerous?
LDL can get damaged when it interacts with free radicals in your body. Free radicals are produced in response to toxins and sugar, and they cause a chemical reaction called oxidation, which makes LDL unstable.
Small, type-B LDL particles are bad, because they are more prone to oxidation than type-A or larger particles.
In response, your body produces white blood cells called macrophages, which rush to the oxidized LDL to clean it up. However, when macrophages ingest the unnatural oxidized LDL, they become “foam cells.” These foam cells trigger inflammation, and over many years, it leads to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis, or arteries blocked by plaque, is the main driver of Coronary Artery Disease. If plaque becomes unstable, it can break off and trigger a heart attack or stroke.
A study in the journal Circulation found that people with high levels of oxidized LDL had a 4.25% higher risk of heart attack compared to those with low levels of oxidized LDL.
So, the next question is: what causes oxidized LDL?
Normally, your gut bacteria prefer the cholesterol made by your liver to what you eat. So most of the cholesterol from food is not absorbed but passed out in the stool.
However, when you eat too many carbohydrates (or sugar), too much cholesterol is produced, and the large and fluffy LDL particles are transformed into small and dense LDL particles.
Sugar (and toxins) are the real causes of oxidized LDL particles that lead to inflammation and plaque formation in artery walls.
And not saturated fat and cholesterol, as we have been told for decades. In fact, the theory that high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol is what causes heart disease and death, has never been proven.
Now that you know oxidized LDL is what causes artery blockages, let’s look at the role of HDL and triglycerides.
In short, HDL or high-density lipoprotein, is beneficial, and you want more of it, but it is easily damaged by sugar and toxins.
For HDL, any number below 40 mg/dL in men, and 50 mg/dL in women signals increased cardiovascular risk.
Think of HDL as a powerful cleaner in your body. It sucks up excess cholesterol and plaque in your arteries, depositing them in your liver for cleansing. This teamwork reduces your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
As for triglycerides, they are a type of fat found in food and produced in the liver. Like cholesterol, they are carried by lipoproteins to cells where they are used for energy. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells.
Eating too many carbohydrates or sugars causes the liver to produce large amounts of triglycerides packaged in very small, dense LDL particles, thus increasing cardiovascular risk.
So, to summarize: when we talk about lowering high cholesterol, we’re really talking about reducing type-B LDL particles and triglycerides, and raising HDL.
Keep this in mind, as we get into the 8 tips to balance your cholesterol naturally.
Number 8. Choose Good Fat & Avoid Low Fat.
In the last 40 years, the significant increase in heart disease in America has coincided with the popularity of low-fat diets which are high in sugar, refined carbs and vegetable oils.
After following close to 10,000 women for 15 years, researchers in Australia found that higher levels of saturated fat intake were not associated with cardiovascular disease. Instead, this resulted in a lower incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Saturated fats, found in foods, such as meat, cheese, and coconut oil, are stable and don’t spoil easily. In fact, they stay solid at room temperature and can be beneficial for your health, especially when obtained from organic sources.
In addition, there are healthy partially saturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats, present in nuts, avocados, and olives, are considered incredibly healthy for the body.
Polyunsaturated fats, including essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, are vital for the body, and can be found in fatty fish, beef, flaxseeds, and walnut oil.
However, avoid vegetable oils, such as canola, corn, and sunflower oils. These polyunsaturated fats have been oxidized during refining, and they cause inflammation in your arteries.
See our video, “Top 5 Foods that Destroy Your Heart“.
Number 7. Eat the Right Carbs.
A diet high in inflammatory foods will increase your risk for hyperlipidemia. Hyperlipidemia is the condition when you have both high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
To prevent problems with cholesterol and triglycerides, avoid sugar and refined grain products, such as white bread, packaged and processed foods, and eat in moderation high-glycemic carbs, like potatoes and short-grain rice.
The best solution is to stop consuming damaging, processed foods and eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
Choose low-carb leafy green vegetables, berries, sprouted nuts and seeds, and cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
See our video, “Top 10 Foods to Heal Your Heart“.
Number 6. Exercise Regularly.
Research suggests that regular physical activity can positively impact your cholesterol levels, increasing HDL and preventing the rise of small, dense LDL particles.
Both higher intensity cardio exercises and weight training can benefit your heart health and cholesterol levels.
Activities like walking, swimming, and cycling can have a positive impact on your cholesterol and lipid ratios. Resistance training can also improve your lipid profiles.
The key is to find activities that you enjoy, as this will make it more likely for you to stick with them.
Number 5. Reduce Alcohol.
While light to moderate drinking can have some benefits, heavy alcohol intake is linked to high triglyceride levels and a greater risk of heart disease. To maintain healthy cholesterol levels, drink within the mild or moderate range – one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Number 4. Improve Gut Bacteria.
Changes in the composition of your gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, have been associated with the development and progression of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD).
When your gut is functioning optimally and your good gut bacteria are thriving, they work to keep harmful cholesterol out of your body.
Consider working these fermented foods into your meals to help improve your gut bacteria and lower cholesterol: sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, natto and kimchi.
See our video, “Top 5 Gut Foods To Clean Out Your Arteries“.
Number 3. Reduce Stress.
Chronic stress contributes to abnormal cholesterol, by acting on cortisol, but you can combat this by staying active. Walking at a comfortable pace, even around the office, can release endorphins in your brain, promoting relaxation and improving your mood.
Not only does walking reduce stress but it also has a positive impact on your overall heart health. It can improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, regulate weight, and boost energy levels.
Another way to combat stress is by listening to your favorite music. Research has shown that certain types of music can affect heart activity, blood pressure, and breathing, and alter brain chemistry in a way that can help improve cardiovascular health.
Number 2. Get Enough Quality Sleep.
Sleep helps your body repair and reset, and plays a crucial role in clearing out the day’s stressors. It also allows your heart to recover from the day’s hard work.
Both insufficient and excessive sleep can have negative effects on blood lipid levels. Research has shown that getting less than five hours or more than eight hours of sleep can lead to abnormal blood lipid levels.
Another study found that inadequate sleep, especially less than six hours, can result in high levels of small, dense LDL particles. Snoring has also been associated with low HDL levels in the same study.
To ensure you get enough sleep, it’s important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Keeping your bedroom cool and dark can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Turn off your electronics at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light from displays can disrupt melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep.
Doing light exercises like yoga and stretching, and listening to quiet music, can also calm your mind and relax your body before bedtime.
Number 1. Get Enough Sunshine.
Sunlight is essential for your health, including your cholesterol levels.
When sunlight touches your skin, it triggers a process that converts cholesterol in your tiny blood vessels into vitamin D, leading to an increase in vitamin D levels and a decrease in cholesterol levels.
Multiple studies have shown that sun exposure lowers blood pressure, decreases cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart disease and death. The best time to get sun exposure is in the morning.
There you have it! The eight things you can do to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides naturally.