Dear Doc: Cholesterol

Dear Doc:

What can I do to naturally decrease my cholesterol? My doctor says I am not over the healthy limit, but I am very close. I have seen things like "cholest-off" vitamins and other things you can take, but want to try something completely natural first.

If one pays close attention to television commercials for the "statin" cholesterol lowering drugs, you will always note that they compare the benefit drug consumption plus diet to diet alone. If you take this information seriously, diet impacts cholesterol levels and is a necessary part of the solution.

Cholesterol has been used as a marker for cardiovascular disease in the US for decades. The theory postulates that if you lower your cholesterol lab values via diet, exercise, and meds, you can reduce the risk of a heart attack. Overtime, more precise cardiovascular disease predictors were derived from the blood lipid panel. By lipid panel, I mean values for total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides. This more complex approach promotes therapies and drugs to treat and reduce the risk of disease. The US has a huge consumption of statin drugs. Almost a quarter of all prescriptions sold in the US are for treatment of lipid metabolism issues.

Diet is the most important factor in this discussion. The fats that you consume impact your liver which is the source of cholesterol production and fat metabolism. Keeping your liver functioning optimally is an important step to regulation of cholesterol and lipid levels.

I have many recommendations to patients for a regimen that impacts the health of the liver and cleanses it. The regimen includes supplements in addition to diet suggestions. By treating the underlying causes of disease, we support healthy lipid metabolism to restore health and reduce the probability of cardiovascular disease.

I begin every treatment plan with diet. The fats you consume should be liquid at room temperature. If they are not, the saturation level is sufficiently high to cause liver congestion and therefore high lipid levels in the blood. I suggest you remove animal shortening, trans fatty acids, and lard from your diet. Replace those fats with olive oil and other liquid vegetable oils such as grape seed oil. These oils are tasty, healthy and promote liver health.

High temperature frying tends to transform good fats into molecules for which we lack enzymes to metabolize. When we cannot metabolize a food substance, it creates problems. Stop consuming deep fried foods and add your oil after the food is cooked.

Perform a liver cleanse with some olive oil, lemon juice and garlic once a month. This is the same as cleaning the oil filter on your car. This activity promotes good liver health and function. Eating a clove of raw garlic a day will promote liver health and lower bad cholesterol values as well.

These simple steps are the natural way to restore good lipid values and hopefully reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. If these steps fail to provide you satisfying lipid levels, please consult a physician. We have additional natural options that will make your goals reality.

Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming!

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