Cholesterol - Lowering it Naturally

July 31, 2005

Cholesterol - Lowering it Naturally 

Competency # 13   FATS                             Reference:  JAMA. 290(4):502-510, July 23/30, 2003. Date:  8/05 The Answer?  

A LOT of people have high cholesterol! Who should lower their cholesterol?  ALL of US One hundred million Americans have cholesterol that is too high.  That's one in three. Most of us don't know it because there are no symptoms until you have a heart attack or stroke.  Taking statins can lower your risk for a heart attack by 20-60% and stroke by 24-31% (these are both the same disease, blood vessel clogging, just in different organs).  Statins may be very potent anti-inflammatories that reduce the inflammation that LDLs seem to cause in our arteries, that then builds up scar and plaque.  

If you know your cholesterol, and mostly your LDLs, you want your LDLs (low density lipoproteins) to be below 100.  That was the old goal.  Now, with acute coronary syndrome, the goal is below 70.    The question arises, why isn't 70 all of our goals?  Let's do our cardiac rehab before we have the heart attack, not after when the cow is already out of the barn.  That's my goal.  So, all of us want a lower LDL.  Just like BP, there doesn't seem to be a low end where lower isn't better. This is what will radically help your LDL, without taking drugs. 

 1.  Avoid tobacco in all forms.  Just quit. 

 2.  Avoid trans fats and saturated fats like the plague.  Translated, this means avoiding animal fats and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil  (this is next week's topic). 

 3.  Choose omega 3 fatty acid foods  (two weeks from now). 

 4.  Eat lots of fiber: over 25 grams a day.  (In Africa, on 50 grams fiber a day: virtually no coronary artery disease or colon cancer).  The more Vegan you get, the lower your cholesterol will go. (Read the China Study – Colin Campbell) 

 5.  Partake in 30 minutes of exercise every day.  A day without 30 minutes, is as much a risk as a day smoking.  This is true.  Deal with it.  Plan for it.  Build it in. 

 6.  With great caution: one drink of alcohol a day RAISES your good cholesterol.  However, alcohol has all the other risks attached to it. 

 7.   Stop eating bread and wheat.  Lower your carb intake.  Elevated cholesterol probably means you have overwhelmed your body's natural ability to process carbs, so you have to turn them into fats and transfer them to your fat cells.  That's what LDLs are: shuttle buses.  

8.  One piece of good evidence that was published in JAMA by the author Jenkins showed the following: Eating 21 grams of soy per 1000 calories, and 14 grams of almonds per 1000 calories, and 10 grams of soluble fiber per 1000 calories: reduced cholesterol by 30% - as much as with a statin.  C-reactive protein went down with both groups equally.  This is dramatic.  It means you, a normal person with "normal cholesterol", can lower your c-reactive protein and your cholesterol as much by diet as with a statin drug. 

 WWW:  What Will Work for Me:  Add fiber to your diet.  Eat almonds or walnuts every day (a few). Add more soy to your life.  I eat soybeans for my snack that I buy at Outpost.  Make a mix of soybeans, almonds, and sunflower seeds.  Make your own snack that you nibble on instead of potato chips.

This column was written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-785-5300)