The Cholesterol Myth
The Cholesterol Myth
We’ve been led to believe that high cholesterol causes heart disease but is that really true? The research that first led to this theory has been found to be faulty and new research today is showing that cholesterol levels alone are not the true culprit.
Our bodies naturally produce approximately 75% of the cholesterol in us since it is a necessary component of cellular function to make hormones, cell membranes and even brain tissue, and without it we would die. Also, research has shown that dietary cholesterol does not contribute to high increases in our blood levels of cholesterol. BUT we all know that plaque in arteries is a buildup of cholesterol and when too much is there it narrows the arteries causing heart disease. So how can cholesterol not be the problem and yet still is the problem?
There are 2 types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL which are really lipoproteins that are the carriers for cholesterol. HDL contains very little cholesterol so when one refers to cholesterol it is the LDL that is being monitored for high or low levels. So what happens to the LDL that creates the problem?
The real culprits in this scenario are free radicals.They oxidize LDL and it’s the oxidized LDL that causes plaque to build up in arteries. Free radicals are caused by a weak molecular bond which breaks and leaves a molecule with an unpaired electron.This molecule becomes a free radical and will attack stable molecules to “steal” the needed electron.This process causes a chain reaction in the body of molecular break down and disruption of cells. Antioxidants are a way to halt this process and stabilize cellular functions.
What causes free radicals and how can we prevent them? The body naturally produces moderate levels of free radicals during metabolism but excesses of free radicals are caused by pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, herbicides, and processed refined foods that are filled with chemicals and additives.
How does one prevent cholesterol from being attacked by free radicals and get those antioxidants in your blood to counteract the free radicals? Eat whole foods, eat organic whole foods when possible, and eat simple foods that have been grown in your area. Eat the basics: meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. Eat foods that do not come in packages with a list of ingredients too long to memorize with words you can’t pronounce.This Thanksgiving don’t worry about how much butter is on your locally grown carrots and potatoes or how many pieces of turkey you gobbled down. Eat real food and give your body what it really needs. Take care of your cholesterol and it will take care of you.