Myths and Facts: the Truth about Cholesterol

Myths and Facts: the Truth about Cholesterol

Sometimes in science we can be led astray by an observation that appears to be groundbreaking but in the end turned out to be completely wrong. A perfect example of this phenomenon is what happened with the role of cholesterol and human health. Listening to most doctors in the medical lead and media one would think that to control atherosclerosis, the major cause of heart disease and strokes as well as heart attacks, all a person has to do is lower his or her cholesterol level, but you know folks nothing could be from the truth. In fact most experts in the field now agree that atherosclerosis, also known commonly as hardening of the arteries, is caused by chronic inflammation within the walls of the blood vessels. Especially the inner layer of cells called the endothelium and the muscular layer that allows blood vessels to contract and relax. The evidence strongly demonstrates that cholesterol is actually just a small part of the story. So let’s examine this more closely.

How cholesterol became the culprit started back in the early 1900s when a chemist examined deposits that formed the disease arteries provided to him by a pathologist. The chemist eventually determined that these deposits contain a fair amount of cholesterol and even form cholesterol crystals. Scientist knew that certain foods contain high levels of cholesterol just as was found disease arteries. Then they drew the conclusion that arterial deposits were caused by eating too many cholesterol containing foods such as eggs and meats. The conclusions seemed to make sense and in fact, until recently, this is what scientists and doctors believed in, but careful studies have demonstrated that for the majority of people there is no relationship between high cholesterol foods and atherosclerosis. As a cardiologist I check a  study on my patient that will actually show if you are absorbing cholesterol from the foods. In that case it is good to limit your amount of eggs, meats, shrimps, and scallops. These are foods that have a high amount of cholesterol.

The truth is slowly appearing that of course cholesterol is not the only problem in the origin of atherosclerosis. I was one of the first cardiologist years ago to point out that the benefits from the statins such as Mevacor, Simvastatin, Lipitor, and Crestor came from the immune suppressing and anti-inflammatory effects and not the cholesterol lowering effects. As you know now the statins or cholesterol pills will also lower inflammation of the heart, but let me tell you about the real hazards of some of the statins. There is memory loss, brain hemorrhage, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy, prolonged immune suppression, cancer risk and even infection. So are statins good for you? You have to talk to your doctor, but I do not think they are the miracle drugs that were once touted to be. What the studies show is that the risk of heart disease comes from many factors such as inflammation, high triglycerides, high homocysteine, low vitamin D, low Omega 3s etc. It also has been recently shown through population the research studies that the so-called good cholesterol, the HDL is almost as harmful as beneficial and that nearly 50% of people with advanced atherosclerosis have perfect HDL levels. You have to understand that HDL is not just a delivery system for cholesterol but is part of the immune system. When we have an infection HDL switches to an inflammatory mode, worsening the inflammation of blood vessels, the main course of atherosclerosis. Yet under normal conditions HDL can have anti-inflammatory effects. A perfect demonstration of this immune effect was a study that looked at HDL inflammatory status in children. When the children were well their HDL cholesterol was mostly anti-inflammatory, but when they were sick with an infection the HDL switched to an inflammatory molecule pouring out numerous free radicals which are used by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms. So HDL can be cause of harm also.

I want you to tell your doctors to not only check your good and bad cholesterol but they now have to check your cholesterol particles size which is very, very important. In fact you also may want to check your oxidized LDL. So particle size and oxidized LDL is very important. Do you really want to know what causes heart disease? Extensive research now agrees that most and that the most important factor atherosclerosis is chronic inflammation, but what’s causing the chronic inflammation? Factors that are linked to atherosclerosis all promote chronic inflammation, this includes stress, exposure to toxic metals like lead, mercury, aluminum, and cadmium, exposure to pesticides and herbicides, dietary Exide toxic additives such as dyes and glutamate, exposure to radiation, chronic repeated infections including viral bacterial microplasms, as well as high blood pressure. This is why the best prediction for risk is a measure of inflammatory markers such as the pro-inflammatory cytokines. It also explains a very strong connection between low magnesium and cardiovascular disease. Low magnesium triggers widespread inflammation making the blood cells more likely to clot. It also lowers glutathione levels when the most important antioxidants in the body and impairs blood vessel function and repair of your blood vessels. These are the most important indicators of future atherosclerosis. And as people age they lose a lot of magnesium mainly because of dietary reasons but also because of overuse of medications, especially the diuretics (the water pills) and some other cardiac medications. So it’s important to improve your diet.

Another problem is the danger of oxidized oils. Another hint that cholesterol is not the main culprit in atherosclerosis comes from the recommendation by the medical elite that all diabetics, no matter the cholesterol levels, should the statins this is because it’s well known that diabetics, or even those people with pre-diabetes, have much higher levels of risk of developing heart disease and atherosclerosis.

I want the audience to know that they should not cook in oils containing corn safflower or soybean oil, they are not healthy. These cholesterols are actually oxidized and can cause extremely potent initiators of heart disease. Likewise when you cook an egg you oxidized the various oils in the egg. Cooking in omega six oils guarantees oxidation. Canola oil, although and omega-3, is also not healthy. The best oils olive or coconut oil.

The most important thing I discussed is your diet. Supplements can reduce the impact of the diet but not sufficiently to alter the result. You must change your diet. There are three ways to maximize absorption of the nutrients from your vegetables. Cooking them, chewing them thoroughly, and “blenderizing” them. This breaks down the cells in the plants where the nutrients are located. In fact some 80 to 90% of nutrients are absorbed from blenderized vegetables, while only 30% absorbed when eaten whole, that’s very, very important. Sugars are also a problem. A high intake of sugars, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, greatly enhances inflammation by promoting insulin resistance. This is a condition where the hormone insulin is less effective in lowering blood sugar levels. High triglycerides are almost always caused by the high intake of sugars or high glycemic foods which are rapidly converted to sugar. Triglycerides are converted to small dense molecules of LDL cholesterol which is very dangerous. Drinking water is extremely important, however you must remove fluoride and aluminum from your water by using some kind of purification process. Fluoride interacts with aluminum to form a compound which is very toxic to the blood vessels of the brain, even in half the concentration seen in normal drinking water. In addition you should not use a lemon with your tap water or your tea, as it greatly enhances the absorption of aluminum. Do not use lemons with black tea, it is very high in fluoride aluminum. Green tea and white tea have very little fluoride aluminum.

And by all means please go easy on the red meat. Red meat is very high in absorbable iron and has high levels of glutamate and excitatory amino acids, which is extremely dangerous to us. Eating vegetables with red meat reduces the toxic effect of the iron in exotoxins. Still I recommend eating red meat no more than once a week and no more than 6 ounces. All meat should be washed, especially bacon, and soaked. Drain the water, and remove the unrefined salts. You should also be very careful about eating processed meat especially whole turkey, ham, and chicken and other species of fowl, as they are often injected with exotic additives. Names like this chicken broth turkey broth and vegetable broth are dangerous, quite dangerous. Last but not least I’d like the audience to cook on a low heat when cooking foods avoid all Omega six vegetable oils such as corn soybean peanut safflower and sunveme. the safest cooking oils are extra-virgin olive oil and extra-virgin cooking oil. you may have heard that you shouldn’t cook on high heat, well this is true. Searing generates pro-carcinogenic compounds on both meat and vegetables. My real concern with animal fats is that they are saturated with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, which are known to concentrate in the fats. They also absorb very high Mercury levels, so by all means improve your diet take your supplementation and detoxify daily. I wish you a long happy life.

Until next time this is Dean R. Silver, M.D. talking on your health!