Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

Five Cholesterol Myths

You knew there was a bit of an over-emphasis (possibly borderline obsession) about cholesterol, right?

Before I jump into some myths let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.

cho

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it’s floating through your blood is what’s more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it’s combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart.   Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood.   These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

They’re grouped into two main categories:

  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it’s even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn’t simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it’s bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It’s actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? ‘Cause that’s where it’s made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there’s a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to be good for you.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don’t start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don’t seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that much.

Can you guess what helps?

Nutrition and exercise, darlin’!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies.  And I mean lots!  Try to get up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

Don’t worry though, the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.

You can (I won’t use the word should) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

Summary:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we’re learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

Recipe (Dressing to go with your salad): Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

Ingredients

  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • dash salt and/or pepper

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.

Serve on top of your favourite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol

http://summertomato.com/how-to-raise-your-hdl-cholesterol

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/

 

Foods That Reduce Night Time Hot Flashes

Do you get hot flashes? 

Are they mostly at night? 

Can they set the bed on fire (but not in that way)?

Foods That Reduce Night Time Hot FlashesLet’s get you some solutions!

Before we do that, here is some quick info on why hot flashes occur so we can try to effect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.

What causes hot flashes?

As you can imagine it’s all about hormonal balance (or imbalance).

During the menstruating years your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month.

When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.

Can you guess what your body’s response to this is?  

It releases adrenaline! Continue reading →

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

Do you ever wonder how metabolism affects you?

metabolism

Maybe you feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight.  Perhaps your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

At this point, you may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”! In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down. Continue reading →

Have You Said “Bye Bye” to Being Able to Sleep Through the Night?

Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Have you said 'bye bye' to sleeping through the night?Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.   People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Continue reading →