The higher your serum cholesterol, the more likely you are to have heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, lowering your cholesterol does not guarantee prevention of heart disease. The issues are much more complex. In fact studies have shown that 80 percent of people who have heart attacks have the same total cholesterol level as individuals who don’t have an attack. In other words the majority of individuals who have heart attacks have what can be considered as normal cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol levels are important but may not be as important as cholesterol differentiation. Analysis must go far beyond the traditional measurement of LDL/HDL ratios.
There are more than seven subclasses of LDL particles. Each particle varies in its ability to adhere to and penetrate arterial walls to form arthrosclerotic plaque. This differentiation is one of the keys to determining how damaging a patient’s LDL’s are. A bad distribution of these LDL in the cells can cause a 300% greater chance of having heart disease than someone with the same LDL level and a good distribution.
LDL-B is an especially damaging particle. Since they are mixed with triglycerides and are smaller in size than the larger, less harmful LDL-A particles. These small particles are more damaging than larger particles because they can move easily into endothelial cells. The LDL-B particles are picked up by macrophages (scavenger cells) which eventually become foam cells. These foam cells eventually rupture and spill their toxic, oxidized contents onto the arterial wall. These oxidized substances start the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. Because this atherosclerotic lesion contains an oxidized LDL-B particle it grows at 30 times the rate of a LDL-A particle.
Obviously, it is important to know the ratio and types of LDL’s in a patient’s cholesterol readings. Especially since medications such as Lovastatin lower the number of large particles, but leave the smaller more damaging cholesterol particles intact. These medications also do nothing to reduce the oxidation properties of the triglycerides that are interwoven into the small LDL-B particles.
It is theorized that HDL’s acts as a scavenger, removing cholesterol from the circulation. In this process free cholesterol comes into contact with the surface of the HDL, where it is esterified by a substance called lecithin- cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT). This cholesterol is then stored in the centre of the HDL particle.
It is also theorized the HDL acts as a powerful antioxidant. The enzyme associated with HDL, lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase , blocks the oxidization of LDL cholesterol. LDL levels should be no higher than 3.0 mmol/L (115 mg/dL). An optimal level of HDL should be 45mg/dL or higher.
In addition to the following suggestion, it is extremely important to reduce excess weight, stop smoking and to follow a program of stress reduction if applicable. Each of the following recommendations are important. Excellent results can be achieved from a synergy of the following program, no single factor is more important than the other.
- Avoid saturated fats
A reduction by 1% in saturated fatty acids can decrease total cholesterol by 3%. Foods that contain high levels of saturated fats include meats, dairy products, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter.
- Avoid hydrogenated oils
These oils increase LDL levels and decrease HDL levels. Avoid: salad dressings, margarine, shortening, deep fried foods and processed foods. For more information on the web go to Trans Fats.
- Use Omega 3 (EPA/DHA and alpha-linolenic)
Fish Oils: Combine the fish oil with garlic to decrease serum cholesterol. These oils cause a large reduction in triglyceride levels, a substantial increase in LDL particle size. (Remember it is the small LDL’s that cause the problem) Flax Seed Oil: Reduces serum cholesterol but does not effect triglyceride levels.
- Use monounsaturated oils
Olive oil (Dark green cold pressed) results in a decrease of the total cholesterol and LDL counts. These oils are resistance to oxidation.
- Use garlic in your food and as a supplement
Garlic inhibits LDL oxidation, and prevents abnormal platelet aggregation. Human patients fed a daily dose of Kyolic (“Aged Garlic Extract”) over a 10-month study showed that “. . . adhesion to fibrinogen (fibrinogen helps to form clots) was reduced by 30% . Take 900 to 8000 mg a day.
- Drink green tea
Green tea lowers LDL cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels. It also inhibits the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Drink green tea with each meal or take green tea extract at 350 mg per day.
- Increase soluble fiber intake
Soluble fiber lowers total cholesterol and LDL levels while preserving HDL levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, legumes, guar gum, guava, peas, beans, certain citrus fruits, and psyllium. Take 4-6 grams before any high-fat meal. A bowl of oatmeal contains 3 grams, Cheerios 1 gram (Not Honeynut Cheerios).
- Use soya products
Soya products decrease total cholesterol levels, inhibits of LDL oxidation. Drink soya milk, eat tofu, soya nuts, soya burgers, or use soya beans in cooking.
- Take selenium
Individuals with diets low in selenium have two-to-three times greater risk of heart disease than those eating selenium rich diets. Selenium is an antioxidant that reduces oxidation of LDL’s Take 200-600 micrograms daily.
- Supplement Your Diet With Vitamin E
Vitamin E lowers the oxidation rate of LDL’s and slows the progression of atherosclerosis. Results of a study in the Journal of Circulation Research, August 1998 suggest that vitamin E and selenium inhibited atherosclerosis as effectively as an equally hypocholesterolemic dose of the drug Probucol. Take 400-800 IU daily.
- Exercise and Lose Any Extra Weight
Exercise increases HDL counts, removes triglycerides from the circulation. It also changes the ratio of LDL particle size moving more harmful small particles to large particle size.