Your Cholesterol Can Kill You – True or False? Since September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month, let’s talk about some myths and truths connected with our cholesterol levels. It is true that Heart Disease is the Number One Killer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of more than 700,000 people die each year from some form of cardiovascular disease.
But did you know that half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels and often have no warning signs?
So why is cholesterol so important?
Make no mistake – High cholesterol does have a lot to do with heart disease. But the people with normal cholesterol who suffer with heart disease may have other health factors, like constant high levels of stress, smoking, high blood pressure, other chronic illnesses and weight problems. The heart can be weakened by immune deficiencies, chronic vitamin deficiency and, as was in the case of singer Karen Carpenter, eating disorders such as anorexia.
Healthy balanced cholesterol is absolutely necessary for the neurological system, brain function (including memory), hormone production, bile production (important for digesting fats and absorbing nutrients) and cell membrane integrity.
Here is another myth about cholesterol: All you need to watch is your “bad cholesterol level”. FALSE! You must consider both your High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), your Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), and the ratio between the two. Your HDL is considered “good” cholesterol and your LDL is “bad”. But your HDL can be “too low”. The goal for HDL levels should be 40 or above while 60 or higher is considered optimal.
LDL readings of 100 or less are most desirable, and optimal levels of tryglycerides are considered to be 150 or less. “Triglycerides” are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and in the body. They also exist in blood plasma, and along with cholesterol, they form the plasma lipids (fats). Elevated triglycerides may be the result of another disease, such as untreated diabetes mellitus.
Here are more Truths for a Healthy Heart and Cholesterol Level:
- The Standard American Diet is very high in saturated fat, which adds to high cholesterol. To increase your HDL and lower LDL, replace most saturated fats (meat, egg yolk, milk, and milk products) with foods that contain monosaturated and polysaturated fats (olive and canola oils, and high-fat fish). Fat calories shouldn’t make up more than 30% of your total calorie intake.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals – this is better for your heart, will keep your blood sugar level stable and your energy up.
- Exercise – It’s one of the best things you can do for your heart. Not exercising is considered by some experts to be as bad as smoking for being a risk to your heart health!
- Take vitamins and minerals – antioxidants A, E, C (C is very good for alleviating atherosclerosis), Zinc and Selenium; folic acid, and B vitamins which help with stress levels.
- Lose a few pounds – According to the National Institutes of Health, most of the top ten causes of death are due to diseases attributed to the health risks of excess body fat.
Your cholesterol levels may be easier to control if your body is within proper pH balance – the balance of acidity and alkalinity in your body’s internal environment. This also has a lot to do with most of today’s food residues being very acidic