What is High Cholesterol Telling Me?

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Believe it or not cholesterol is a gift. It is naturally made by the body in order to protect your arteries, among many other things. Dietary cholesterol, on the other hand, has very little to do with actual cholesterol in the body.

When you have high cholesterol it is an indication of excess damage to the arteries. Main contributors of this damage include age, smoking, poor diet, obesity, diabetes and poor hygiene, such as excess plaque in the mouth.

While some of these risk factors are easy fixes such as avoid smoking, others require more attention.

With regards to poor diet, we want to avoid foods that cause inflammation. Sugar is the number one culprit as it damages arteries, increases blood pressure and ages your organs. In particular white processed sugar. Natural sugars won’t necessarily have this effect due to the nutrient and fibre content.

Replace sugar with unsaturated fats like nuts, avocados, fish and olive oil. Processed vegetable oils including nut oils and butter will contribute to inflammation as well so it’s important these fats come in unprocessed, virgin and cold pressed. Frying with vegetable oils is always a bad decision.

Although saturated fat is often not recommended, moderate amounts are important for the body. Saturated fat from unprocessed sources and healthy animals is stable and less likely to cause inflammation in the body. Trans fats and man-made saturated fats should always be avoided.

Stress is also another contributing factor to heart disease. We don’t necessarily need to eliminate stress. Often high-stress individuals will find stress in just about everything they do. Small stressful situations like you experience during working out is good. Relentless stress releases hormones all day and night long, which doesn’t allow your body to function normally because it too is literally stressed out. As a result, there is an increased likelihood of heart disease due to lack of free energy by the body to use its own natural healing mechanisms. Truth is we need to work on our reaction to stress, not the stressors themselves.

On top of that exercise cannot be ignored. Working out three times a week doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re sitting the majority of the week. Humans were meant to move and move on a regular basis, sometimes vigorously. When exercise is done effectively heart disease is rarely an issue.

Do no fear if you currently have high cholesterol. Statin drugs are not needed, provided you take care of your health, which will naturally lower cholesterol levels regardless of age or genetics.

Article by Josh Stryde, regional nutrition director and personal trainer at Calgary Place World Health. For meal ideas, check out these recipes.

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