Lower Cholesterol Naturally

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

If you look back at cookbooks in the turn of the 20th century, you will see recipes laden with cream, butter, lard, and food covered in gravy. If you look at the trend of heart attacks before the 1930's, you won't find anything significant. However, after the 1930's, a sudden increase in heart attacks could be seen trending up. Doctor's, faced with this new epidemic, made the hypothesis that the saturated fat patient's were eating was finding its way into their arteries. Even though people had sustained a healthy lifestyle for generations, they believed that cholesterol from all of that saturated fat was creating heart disease.  Based on this limited understanding of nutrition, The Lipid Hypothesis, proposed by Ancel Keys, provoked the following changes in diet recommendations from American doctors:

  1. Use synthetic corn oil or margarine instead of butter.
  2. Eat boxed grain breakfast cereals instead of eggs.
  3. Use synthetic vegetable shortening instead of lard.

Forty years later, in 1977, Mary Enig, from the University of Maryland, proved that these synthetic foods contained trans fatty acids and were causing the very heart disease that doctors were trying to avoid. Unfortunately, the entire department at the University was shut down because of her findings. The general public was starting to understand the dangers of trans fatty acids but the synthetic oil industry did not want those words leaking out in connection with their products.

My hope is today's doctors will understand what Mary Enig and other nutritionists have known for some time: cholesterol and saturated fat are not the bad actors, but instead refined sugar and synthetic vegetable oils are. You will come across doctors that still recommend this old fashioned protocol of eating low fat foods, margarine, and skim milk. Tragically, we accept what doctors prescribed because we are conditioned to accept their authority. Well, as your nutritionist, I am going to challenge it. I am going to explain the science behind this harmful way of eating and why it is illogical.

Many believe that eating saturated fat clogs arteries, but that is simply not true. In fact, eating sugar and processed foods with trans fatty acids are more likely the culprits for clogged arteries or atherosclerosis. The trick with trans fatty acids are that they are not allowed to be added directly to foods, however they are found in all processed foods containing heated soy, corn, or vegetable oils. The only exception is a nut or seed oil that was "cold pressed", in a dark bottle, not exposed to sunlight and eaten without coming into contact with high heat; they are safe. However, the instance heat is applied to these oils or any vegetable oil, they transform into trans fatty acids. Assume in all processed foods the oils have been heated in manufacturing and or hydrogenated which forms trans fatty acids and cannot be used in the body. As a general rule, any packaged food that contains a vegetable oil or any synthetic oil should be avoided.

The refined sugars and flours have a different path. They have been stripped of all nutrition so they bind to proteins and cause sticky proteins called advanced glycated endproducts or AGEs. These sticky proteins harden bodily tissues like a burnt piece of toast and render them useless. AGEs can do serious damage to our bodies. In response, our body sends cholesterol, the human "band aid," to repair the damage that AGEs caused.  From years of damage there may be tremendous AGE build up in the arteries, but when the doctors look at a heart patient, they find a cholesterol "band aid" in the hardened arteries. Cholesterol is caught red handed when in reality he is the repair man trying to fix what is broken.

Cholesterol is actually essential in the body, every one of our cells needs cholesterol for structure. The liver manufactures cholesterol to send out as "band aids" to repair cell structure. When we blame cholesterol for repairing arteries, it is like blaming the plumber for clogging the pipes even though we keep flushing down garbage.

In addition, cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D and steroid hormones which are necessary for reproduction.  Perhaps it is coincidence that, in America, the increased intake of cholesterol lowering drugs and our aversion to cholesterol in our diet has led to Vitamin D deficiencies. The body must have adequate storage of cholesterol and sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D. If your doctor claims you need more Vitamin D, make sure you are getting enough direct sunlight, without sunscreen blocking the way, and enough saturated fat to manufacture cholesterol "band aids."

Cholesterol does even more. Our intestinal wall needs cholesterol to maintain its structure and not break down into "leaky gut". Cholesterol also assists in making bile which is necessary to break down healthy fats, and it helps the process of anti-inflammation. Did you know your body could anti-inflame all on it's own without the need for aspirin. All it needs is a healthy food foundation and the right balance of essential fats.

If cholesterol is so great, you may wonder why medical doctors are prescribing so many cholesterol lowering medications? It is not their fault, remember they are still advised to recommend the prudent diet of low fat foods and synthetic oils. Since the Lipid Hypothesis, there has been a chosen level of cholesterol, 200 mg/dL that people must stay below or they are recommended a medication to lower it. However, if cholesterol is the "human band aid", does it make sense to take a drug that effectively removes cholesterol? People take these medications and see an immediate lowering of their cholesterol, but they do not stop the source of AGEs or trans fatty acids clogging their arteries. They simply take away the production of "band aids."

The main problem with these medications is that we are not looking at why the body needs to produce so much cholesterol or "band aids" in the first place. Most likely, there is too much sugar and processed foods creating AGEs in the diet. Remember one piece of bread is like 5 tsp of sugar in the blood, add a banana, jam and orange juice and you just over did it. The other problem may be that you do not understand the difference between an essential fat like butter and a synthetic, trans fatty acid like fried canola oil. As for ingesting cholesterol, you do not need to worry about it if you simply eat from healthy natural sources. What we need to avoid is the oxidized cholesterol from synthetic oils that become trans fatty acids.

The good news is, you can lower cholesterol naturally by building a healthy food foundation. We need to provide our body with the appropriate foods, even those with saturated fat and a little cholesterol. Most importantly we need to stop eating refined sugar and processed foods. Try the Food Foundation Fall Detox and watch your levels balance without the need for medication. I can help you find a healthy diet and lifestyle in a way that does not deprive you from delicious real food but it will change your life!  I want you to feel empowered and in control of your future without the fear of heart disease. Start whenever you like. Please join us.