So, what do you do when you get the news from your doctor that you have high cholesterol? Panic? Ask for dietary recommendations? Or did your doctor give you a prescription right away? Well, if your doctor gave you no solutions or diet recommendations then you doctor isn't helping you. Sorry. They are just glorified drug dealers then. When I received that same news 10 years ago from my PCP, he told me to cut back on certain dairy, shrimp and shellfish, pork products like bacon and ham, and fried foods, especially fried dairy and meats. He didn't push a presciption on me. He was one of the best doctors I ever had. He was quite holistic and even used acupuncture to treat some conditions. In my honest opinion, we need more doctors who are willing to incorporate more holistic treatments and save the pills for severe cases, not for when your cholesterol is slightly elevated (which is treatable without medication.)
Why is high cholesterol (LDL) so dangerous? What's the big deal? Well, high cholesterol is just the beginning of many ailments that we are suffering from here in the United States due to our Standard American Diet (SAD.) High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis which is a hardening of plaque in the arteries. When the arteries are clogged due to excessive cholesterol that puts more pressure on the arteries because there is a blockage so blood and lymph cannot move as quickly as it needs in the body. And having a slow system means that toxins are just getting reabsorbed back into your system. When atherosclerosis is not addressed it can lead to heart disease (our number one killer here in the U.S.), heart attack, and possibly a stroke. Yikes!
Well, how does this happen? The body produces two kinds of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. In very rudimentary terms, HDL (good) cholesterol helps escort the LDL (bad) cholesterol to the liver for excretion. When there is an overconsumption of food high in saturated fat and cholesterol, there is too much "bad"(LDL) cholesterol floating around in the blood stream. That is what the blood test picks up. Ideally, your total cholesterol needs to be under 200 mg/dl. Normal HDL for women is more than 50 mg/dl and more than 40 mg/dl for men over age 20. Normal LDL is under 100 mg/dl for both men and women over age 20.
Instead of taking the pharmaceutical route, I highly suggest holistic ways of reducing your cholesterol with lifestyle and nutrition choices. After my doctor gave me that news 10 years ago, I shifted away from the foods that caused it to begin with. Even as a vegan, it is important to continue to watch my cholesterol levels. Many vegan baked goods are loaded with saturated fat, although not from animal sources. Coconut and palm oils are very high in saturated fat. The American Heart association recommends only 6% of your 2,000 daily calorie intake be from saturated fat, which equals to about 13g a day. If you butter your bread, then you've already consumed more than half of your daily allotment!
My Dad died from heart disease in 2003. I have had many family members with other lifestyle diseases that are preventable. This was another reason why I chose to pursue holistic nutrition. I knew becoming vegan in 2017 would decrease my risk of heart disease, diabetes type 2, and a plethora of other diseases. My holistic recommendations are to eat whole foods, lots of green ones, quit smoking, manage stress, limit or eliminate alcohol, cut out processed foods, and exercise most days. These are the keys to staying healthy and vibrant.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for all of the tips to reduce cholesterol holistically since September is National Cholesterol Education month.
With Much Love,
Your Holistic Health Coach,