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The Truth About Cholesterol

Although you’ll rarely hear it, cholesterol is actually important for good health.

Your body can’t make vitamin D without it. And you need cholesterol to make several important hormones – including the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.

Your liver converts cholesterol into bile. Bile salts help you digest fats. They also improve absorption of vitamins A, E, D and K.

Cholesterol makes up part of the sheath insulating many nerve cells, too. So cholesterol helps improve nerve signaling.

Cholesterol is only a problem when there’s too much in your blood. If it sticks to artery walls, plaque forms. As plaque builds up, your arteries become stiffer and narrower. This blocks blood flow… and that’s not a good thing.

But it’s why cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are so popular.

Here’s what you need to know:

Trading One Problem for Another

Statin use can lead to a number of problems. One of the most common complaints is muscle pain and weakness. But the problem can be much worse.

Between January 1990 and March 2002, the FDA received 3,339 reports of rhabdomyolysis caused by statin drugs.1 Rhabdomyolysis is a serious – sometimes fatal –rapid breakdown of muscle tissue.

Statins have also been linked to memory loss.2 And they may lower attention and related functions.3 Some studies also link statins to peripheral neuropathy.4 This condition usually includes pain or tingling in the extremities.

Statin drugs also lower levels of CoQ10. CoQ10 is an important antioxidant and critical for producing cellular energy.5 Since CoQ10 is used in virtually every cell in your body, I see this as another serious problem.

But I have good news. Many people don’t need drugs to normalize cholesterol. There are simple steps you and your doctor can take to bring cholesterol into line.

Eat Your Way to Healthier Numbers

Moderate exercise is one of the easiest ways to lower cholesterol. Simply walking several times a week can be a big help. It’s easy to do, fun and doesn’t require any special equipment.

Losing weight can also help lower cholesterol. Dropping just a few pounds has many other health benefits, too.

Finally, a number of foods promote healthy cholesterol levels. Here are three of my favorites:

  • ·          Fatty Fish – Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids are a great addition to your diet. Lake trout, salmon and mackerel are three examples. If you don’t like fish, try fish oil instead. Flavorless capsules make fish oil an easy way to get the benefits of Omega-3’s.6
  • ·          Walnuts – Munching a handful of nuts is great for your heart. And that’s especially true of walnuts. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public health recently reviewed 13 walnut studies. They found consistent evidence that eating walnuts promotes healthy cholesterol levels.7
  • ·          Avocado – Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats. In a number of clinical trials, an avocado-rich diet helped support healthy levels of LDL and total cholesterol. Researchers also found a bonus from eating avocados. They appear to have no affect on HDL (“good”) cholesterol.8

As you can see, supporting healthy cholesterol levels can be delicious. If your cholesterol numbers are high, talk to your doctor. And consider adding these heart-healthy foods to your diet.
 

Stay healthy!

Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals

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1 Thompson PD, et al. Statin-associated myopathy. JAMA. 2003 Apr 2;289(13):1681-90.
2 Wagstaff LR, et al. Statin-associated memory loss: analysis of 60 case reports and review of the literature. Pharmacotherapy. 2003 Jul;23(7):871-80.
3 Muldoon MF, et al. Effects of lovastatin on cognitive function and psychological well-being. Am J Med. 2000 May;108(7):538-46.
4 Jeppesen U, et al. Statins and peripheral neuropathy. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1999 Jan;54(11):835-8.
5 Marcoff L and Thompson PD. The role of coenzyme Q10 in statin-associated myopathy: a systematic review. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Jun 12;49(23):2231-7.
6 Nestel PJ. Fish oil and cardiovascular disease: lipids and arterial function1,2. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 1, 228S-231S, January 2000.
7 Banel DK and Hu FB. Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):56-63. Epub 2009 May 20.
8 Alvizouri-Muñoz M, et al. Effects of avocado as a source of monounsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipid levels. Arch Med Res. 1992 Winter;23(4):163-7.

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