7 Things Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Cholesterol
Last year – as in 2011 and many years before – the most-prescribed drug in the U.S. was a cholesterol-lowering drug. Sales of this one drug topped $5 billion.
Lowering cholesterol is big business. But, as I’ve pointed out before, cholesterol isn’t necessarily a good gauge of your heart risk.
So when a panel of experts announced new prescription guidelines – guidelines that move the emphasis to other risk factors – it may have seemed like a step in the right direction.
Or not. The new guidelines don’t focus exclusively on cholesterol levels. But they’ll still add millions of people to the list of those who “need” a cholesterol-lowering drug. Even though “healthy” cholesterol levels don’t appear to lower heart risk.
In fact, a large 2009 study found that half the people admitted to 541 hospitals for heart problems hadideal cholesterol levels.1
That’s Myth #1 about cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol may not have a direct effect on your heart risk. Here are 6 more myths your doctor may not have explained…
Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad. The truth is, you can’t survive without it. You need it to make bile, which enables your body to digest fats. It’s a building block of every cell wall in your body. LDL cholesterol helps build lean muscle. And it’s a key element in forming myelin – the “sheath” that protects nerve cells.
Myth #3: High cholesterol comes from the food we eat. Actually, about three-quarters of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your body itself.
Myth #4: LDL cholesterol is bad for your arteries. The real culprit is oxidized LDL cholesterol. This is the sticky stuff that leads to stiff, narrowed blood vessels.
Myth #5: You should focus on getting your cholesterol down. This is sort of half true. But higher levels of HDL cholesterol – the “good” kind – are also important. HDL cleans excess LDL cholesterol out of your system.
Myth #6: You should avoid meat and eggs. Wrong. Lean meat and eggs actually boost HDL levels. And they don’t cause a big jump in LDL.
Myth #7: Drugs are the only effective way to lower cholesterol. Here’s a surprise: In a 2011 study, eating pecans lowered dangerous oxidized LDL levels by up to one-third!2 Nutritional supplements – such as chromium, Beta sitosterol and garlic extract – also promote healthy levels of LDL cholesterol.
We may soon be adding one more myth to the list. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tested the new guidelines. Using the new calculations on patients from three large studies – with over 100,000 volunteers – they found a problem.
According to their review, using the new guidelines will put up to 16.5 million people who don’t need them on cholesterol-lowering drugs.3
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Sachdeva A, et al. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: An analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines. American Heart Journal, Volume 157, Issue 1, Pages 111-117.e2 (January 2009).
2 Hudthagosol, C., et al, “Pecans Acutely Increase Plasma Postprandial Antioxidant Capacity and Catechins and Decrease LDL Oxidation in Humans,” J. Nutr. Jan 1, 2011; 141(1): 56-62.
3 Kotz, D., “New cholesterol guideline called inaccurate by top Boston heart researchers,” The Boston Globe. Nov 18, 2013.
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