Cholesterol is one of the most confusing issues in medicine today. Some say lower it as much as you can. Others says don't worry about it. But if you want to buy life insurance, you better pay attention to it, as a high cholesterol number will cost you a lot of money. Well, now the cholesterol issue is getting even more confusing.
You may have heard that the higher your HDL cholesterol, the better. That's one area that conventional and alternative medicine doctors have agreed on for years. And many have gone to great lengths to show us how to raise our HDL. But a recent study says this may have been a waste of time. That's because the researchers in this study discovered that raising HDL doesn't give you any benefit at all. Now that we're all really confused, let me explain.
For the last 30-plus years, research has connected higher levels of HDL with a lower risk of heart disease. Much of this research also suggested that LDL cholesterol is "bad" cholesterol. Unfortunately, it's never that simple. I've shown you in the past how even LDL cholesterol is necessary for your health, and that it's oxidized LDL that's the real problem.
This study, which appeared in The Lancet, looked at the genes of about 170,000 people. They were looking for slight variations that would cause a person to have higher levels of HDL. These variations could increase HDL levels by 10% over those without them. The researchers expected that those who had this variation would have a 13% drop in their risk for heart attacks. But that's not what they found. In fact, they found that their risk was exactly the same as those without the variation.
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The authors of the study suggested that this means raising your HDL will not lower your heart attack risk. So instead of wading through all this confusion, working to raise your HDL, and trying to lower your LDL, let's simplify the cholesterol issue.
The only cholesterol issue you need to worry about is your oxidized LDL level. If your LDL is oxidized, then take steps to reduce the oxidation. I still think having a higher HDL is better for you, but I think it's just a marker of a healthier body, not something that actually protects you. And the steps you take to reduce oxidation will help raise it naturally.
Oxidized cholesterol occurs when you eat a lot of heated (e.g., frying) or rancid fats and oils. For instance, canned tuna and other canned meats are cooked at very high temperatures, so they are a prime source of oxidization. So are meats cooked at fast food restaurants, where they cook their food at very high temps to kill bacteria. When you eat meat, make sure you cook it at a low temperature.
One of the best nutrients you can take to protect your cholesterol against oxidation is berberine. Just this year, researchers showed that it's highly effective at alleviating oxidative stress. That's why Advanced Bionutritionals included berberine in their new Mediterranean Cholesterol Formula. This new formula also contains other nutrients that will help lower your cholesterol naturally. And I wouldn't be surprised if you saw your HDL improve as well, simply because all of your cholesterol will be healthier. Remember, your body needs cholesterol – it just doesn't need damaged cholesterol.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
CBS News, 5-17-12.