I don’t watch a lot of TV. But it seems like every time I switch it on, there’s another talking head prattling on about lowering cholesterol.
Don’t get me wrong, high cholesterol isn’t healthy. But there’s more to cholesterol than just bringing your numbers down. Here’s what you need to know that they won’t tell you on television…
Chances are you know cholesterol comes in more than one form. LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein – cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol. That’s because too much of this form is linked to narrowing and “hardening” of blood vessels.
The other form of cholesterol you’ve probably heard of is HDL – High Density Lipoprotein. This is the form doctors call “good” cholesterol.
There are other forms of cholesterol, but we’ll focus on HDL. Because that’s the form the folks who make those ads don’t want you to know about.
Doctors often talk about “getting your cholesterol below 200.” But they usually leave out something you need to understand. That number is your total cholesterol. And how it’s pided between LDL and HDL is very important.
The current “ideal” number for LDL is anything under 100. But here’s a little secret: They keep dropping the number. That’s because no matter how low they’ve gone, it doesn’t seem to have any effect on heart trouble. (But that’s a story for another day…)
Other fats go into the calculation, but most of the balance of your total cholesterol figure is HDL. An HDL level of 60 is considered very good.
A lot of people don’t hit that number. In fact, about a quarter of adults have HDL numbers below 40. That’s considered poor. And here’s why:
- HDL cholesterol “captures” excess LDL and delivers it to the liver to be broken down. So it actually helps keep your overall cholesterol levels healthy.
- HDL helps activate nitric oxide synthase (NOs), triggering a process that helps your blood vessels relax. This helps promote healthy blood pressure.
- HDL discourages oxidation of LDL. Since oxidized LDL is the worst culprit behind clogged arteries, this is a critical function.
So just “getting your cholesterol down” shouldn’t be your goal. Encouraging healthy levels of HDL should be part of your overall plan to stay healthy. And here’s how to do it…
- Stay active. 30 minutes of brisk activity 5 times a week could boost your HDL by about 5%.
- Lose weight. Just dropping a few pounds tends to raise HDL levels – about 1 point for every 6 pounds lost.
- Don’t smoke. Quitting can boost HDL levels by up to 10%.
- Eat the low-glycemic way. Processed carbs and sugars depress HDL levels. When you cut down on breads, pastas, sugars, etc., the effect is reversed.
- Try one of these nutritional supplements:
Chromium picolinate. Nutritionists recommend chromium to promote healthy LDL levels. But some studies show it may also encourage higher HDL.1
Inositol. In studies of people with low HDL, volunteers have seen their numbers jump as much as 76% when taking inositol.2
Policosanol. In the early 2000’s, a series of studies showed volunteers’ HDL levels jump double digits after taking this plant derivative.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Press, R.I., et al, “The effect of chromium picolinate on serum cholesterol and apolipoprotein fractions in human subjects,” West J Med. Jan 1990; 152(1): 41–45.
2 Harsha, K.P., et al, “Efficacy and safety of IHN (Inositol hexanicotinate) in healthy volunteers with isolated low HDL: A pilot study,” Journal of Pharmacy Research. Jan 2011; 4(1): 217.
3 Castaño, G., et al, “Effects of policosanol on older patients with hypertension and type II hypercholesterolaemia,” Drugs R D. 2002; 3(3): 159-172.
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