Do you know your total cholesterol level?
It would be prudent for every American to know their level. Physicians recommend that even children between the ages of 9 and 11 need to have their cholesterol checked.
To find out your cholesterol level, you will need a blood test (don’t worry it doesn’t hurt, but if you are prone to fainting, request that your blood be drawn while reclining).
For adults, you can ask your physician for your test, you can give blood at your local blood bank and ask for a cholesterol screening, or you can sign up online and have your blood drawn at a local lab.
According to Dr. William Clifford Roberts, “the only absolute prerequisite for a fatal (or nonfatal) heart attack is a total cholesterol level greater than 150 mg/dL.”
The optimal LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is 50 to 70 mg/dL. The reason that heart disease is endemic in the U.S. in part is because the average person’s LDL level is 130, approximately twice the normal physiologic level.
If your total cholesterol reading is greater than 150 mg/dL, (and your LDL is above 70), you must decide what to do. Since heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans, and people with a cholesterol reading above 150 are susceptible, your choice is to lower your cholesterol below 150 mg/dL (through diet or medication) or risk having a heart attack.
The American Heart Association has decreed that serum cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL. However, we know that one out of every four persons who has a heart attack has a blood cholesterol level between 180 and 210 mg/dL. This means that our national health agencies have chosen a “safe” cholesterol level for the public. Their stated goal is to reduce heart-disease deaths by 20 percent. Why not by 90%?
Personally, I don’t want a “reduced risk” when I can have basically “no risk” if my total cholesterol remains below 150 mg/dL.
According to the CDC, the mean serum total cholesterol level for American adults age 20 years and over is 192 mg/dL. The normal range of cholesterol among residents of rural China, where coronary artery disease is rarely seen, falls between 90 and 150 mg/dL.
Dr. Roberts, who is the executive director of the Baylor Heart and Lung Institute and longtime editor of the Journal of Cardiology, says “High cholesterol is the only direct atherosclerotic risk factor; others such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and inactivity are indirect risk factors.”
Besides heart disease, high cholesterol has been found to be a major factor contributing to stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes, many cancers and even Alzheimer’s Disease.
Autopsy studies have found that Alzheimer’s brains have significantly more cholesterol than normal brains. In studies, it has been found that individuals with higher cholesterol levels at midlife have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later. Of course, if you have chosen statins, they can also cause cognitive impairment.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn spent twenty years helping twenty-three men and one woman who had, in effect, been rendered a death sentence due to their heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn’s goal was to get each person’s total cholesterol below 150 mg/dL. He has found that coronary artery disease is preventable and even reversible.
He put his patients on a simple diet:
• Do not eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
• Do not eat/drink dairy products.
• Do not consume oil of any kind, including olive oil and coconut oil.
• Don’t eat too many nuts or avocados.
• Do eat all vegetables except avocado.
• Do eat all legumes – beans, peas and lentils.
• Do eat whole grains such as breads and pastas (with no added fat).
• Do eat all fruits.
• Limit caffeine and alcohol.
If you decide to lower your cholesterol naturally through your diet, please let me know how you’re doing.