September 1st marks the start of National Cholesterol Education Month.Or as I like to call it … National Cholesterol Miseducation Month.
You know what this means, right?
You're about to get bombarded with these 4 points of emphasis from the media in the next 30 days…
- Get tested to know your cholesterol levels
- Get your Total Cholesterol under 200
- Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to improve your numbers
- And if dieting doesn't work, by all means, get started on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug as soon as possible.
Of these four pieces of advice, I'm suggesting you listen to one and ignore the other three.
You definitely want to get a blood test and become aware of your cholesterol levels.
But the idea of getting under 200 … ignore that.
You want balanced, healthy cholesterol levels … not necessarily lower cholesterol. (More on that in a minute…)
The 200 Total Cholesterol Cut-Off Is a Scam
The pharmaceutical companies have … how should I say this … they've spoon-fed you the bits and pieces of information that paint a picture that benefits their best interest, not yours.
As the recommended heart-healthy cholesterol levels go down further and further, doctors are more prone to prescribe more and more of these drugs.
Patients are more anxious and ready to ask about and start using these drugs.
Profits for the drug companies go up, up, and away.
Meanwhile, we're suffering more heart attacks at an early age than ever before.
Now you might be wondering…
Why is Total Cholesterol a meaningless number?
Two main reasons:
1) Your TC number adds in your HDL cholesterol.
Virtually everyone agrees that higher HDL levels are protective and beneficial to good artery and heart health. So why in the world is a number that we all agree should be higher added to other numbers we want lower?
Fledgling 5th grade math students could point out the absurdity of that.
2) Believe it or not, not all LDL is "bad".
The perception that's prevalent today is that you want your LDL as low as you can go. The lower the better, right?
That's the idea that's getting shoved down our throats.
And it's a lie.
Ever wonder how healthy you'd be if you had zero LDL cholesterol?
Well, how healthy is dead?
Because that's what you'd be with no LDL cholesterol. Dead.
It's only oxidized LDL that leads to all the plaque build-up and heart problems that we want to avoid.
Okay, so how can you know if you're more susceptible to getting artery-clogging, oxidized cholesterol?
The best way is to find out the particle size of your LDL or low-density lipoprotein.
Do you have fluffy clouds or mischievous marbles in your bloodstream?
You want your LDL to be comprised of larger, buoyant particles. This is the 'regular' low-density lipoprotein your body wants and needs to survive.
It's the small, dense particles that are more likely to cause inflamation and stick along the walls of your artery. Result? The arterial plaque buildup that puts too much stress and strain on your heart.
So think of the larger LDL as light and fluffy and harmless … like a cloud.
Think of the small, dense particles as marbles in your bloodstream. And who wants marbles in their bloodstream, right?
The best test for evaluating your overall cholesterol health is with a NMR LipoProfile. The NMR reveals not just the particle size, but the particle count as well.
The next best test is the VAP. The VAP test also measure the particle size, but only provides an estimate of the particle count.
Third and last for reliability is the stand lipid panel that most people use today. The one benefit of this test is that it's cheaper than the other two. The downside is that it's far less reliable as far as determining your cholesterol health.
But you can still use the results of the standard lipid panel to get a rough idea of your particle size and oxidation risk.
You want to look at two calculated stats from your results.
- HDL/LDL ratio
- HDL/Triglycerides ratio
You want these ratios to be higher vs. lower.
Some doctors may do these calculations in reverse. That's perfectly fine and acceptable. Just know that if the ratio's are reversed, you want a lower, not higher number.
Either way, what you want is more HDL per LDL and more HDL per triglycerides.
It's not foolproof, but it's a pretty good guesstimate as to how high a risk you're at for LDL oxidation.
So, did you learn anything today? Did I get National Cholesterol Education Month off to a good start? If so, let me know by clicking the LIKE button below.
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