Elevated cholesterol is a very common concern I see in many patients who come to Reverse Factor. It is also one of the most common health worries among people after the age of 40 or 45. It is therefore important to know what cholesterol is, what it does, why it becomes high and what we can do to reverse elevated cholesterol.
Cholesterol forms an integral part of the cell membranes throughout our body. It is particularly important in the cellular structure of the brain and central nervous system. The body uses cholesterol to make bile acids, which are necessary for proper food digestion. It’s also a vital part of adrenal and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), and it helps the body manufacture vitamin D. While cholesterol is essential to life, our liver makes all the cholesterol that our body needs. Around 85% cholesterol is made by our liver and 15% comes from the food we eat that too specifically animal protein. Only animal foods i.e. non-vegetarian and dairy contain cholesterol while no plant foods have cholesterol.
The majority cholesterol that is made in our liver is then transported from the liver to all the cells by low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which acts like a ferry boat; loading up the cholesterol and navigating through the bloodstream, stopping at cells and depositing it to the cells that need it. If a cell already has enough, it “refuses delivery” of the cholesterol cargo. The excess LDL stays in the blood where the cholesterol is deposited in the walls of arteries, causing atherosclerotic plaque. The more plaque that builds up, the narrower the arteries become, until eventually the blood supply to vital organs is reduced. This is why LDLs are known as the “bad cholesterol.”
Also present in the bloodstream, is the high-density lipoproteins, or HDLs. These are known as “good cholesterol,” since they travel like a vacuum cleaner through the bloodstream, picking up excess cholesterol in the bloodstream, and also possibly sucking the cholesterol from the fat-laden plaques. The HDLs carry this excess cholesterol back to the liver, which converts it to bile, which is eliminated into the intestines. This is how our body handles cholesterol.
The problem arises when there is an imbalance and when LDL rises or HDL decreases or both. The primary cause of elevated total and LDL cholesterol and low HDL is our wrong food habits. Hence, we should avoid deep fried, packaged foods, animal protein including dairy and processed foods while at the same time eat more plant foods and practice walking on a regular basis. There are particularly 5 foods that we should eat on a regular basis for lowering LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol:
White sesame seeds: Apart from being the number one source of calcium, white sesame seeds are excellent for improving lipid profile. It is also highly recommended for lowering blood pressure and improving the health of our arteries.
Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and many more are an easy way to improve our lipid profile since they are rich in Omega 3.
Sprouts: Being sprouted, they have living enzymes in them which are excellent for the health of our heart and better lipid profile.
Beetroot: Beetroots are very high in nitrates that our body can convert into nitric oxide which helps in relaxing our blood vessels and the arteries. It thereby improves the good cholesterol and decreases the LDL cholesterol.
Purple cabbage: Filled with tons of nutrients, this food can very quickly help improve blood circulation and lipid profile.