How Does Cholesterol Support Your Health?

Avoiding Processed Food Is the Easiest Way to Protect Your Heart

The fact that your body can eliminate trans fats in about a month is encouraging. The tragic reality, of course, is that 95 percent of the food that most Americans eat is processed—and processed food is where all this trans fat lies. The key message here is that you don’t have to wait for the FDA to make a ruling on trans fat. You can avoid trans fats by eliminating all processed foods, which would also include most restaurant food. If you can eliminate that from your diet, and replace it with fresh, locally grown vegetables, healthy fats, and animal proteins in appropriate amounts, you’re far less likely to end up with heart disease.

Balancing your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is also key for heart health, as these fatty acids help build the cells in your arteries that make the prostacyclin that keeps your blood flowing smoothly. Omega-3 deficiency can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about omega-3s and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article. Besides animal-based omega-3 fats, other sources of healthful fats to add to your diet include:

Avocados

Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk

Raw dairy

Organic pastured egg yolks

Coconuts and coconut oil

Unheated organic nut oils

Raw nuts, such as almonds, pecans, macadamia, and seeds

Grass-fed meats

How to Avoid Arterial Calcification

You also need the appropriate ratios of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and all of these are generally abundant in a whole food diet. The following tidbit will give you an idea of how these nutrients come into play: by analyzing the composition of veins, Dr. Kummerow showed that people undergoing a heart bypass typically have 40 to 60 percent of something called sphingomyelin in their arteries. Sphingomyelin is a part of five phospholipids that surround the arterial cell to protect it. The amount of sphingomyelin changes over time, and is largely dependent on your diet. Oxidized fats promote the creation of sphingomyelin.

“When half the artery was now sphingomyelin, the salt in the blood causes it to have a negative charge; the calcium in the arteries has a positive charge. The calcium then adheres to the wall of the artery and gradually causes the coronary artery to become calcified,” he explains.

“It’s well-known now that calcification is involved in [heart disease], to the point where the blood can no longer flow through that coronary artery. The heart doesn’t get the blood supply it needs, and it begins to ache. Of course, then you go to a physician, and get saved through a coronary bypass operation. There are 300,000 of them now a year in this country. So, it’s important to keep your artery free of calcification. You can do that by not eating oxidized fats. That’s what causes that.

Of course, the other thing I mentioned is that if you don’t eat trans fats, you will not interfere with the flow of your blood. The trans fats will have no influence because if you don’t eat them, they’re not going to be there. That’s the other reason for heart disease. If you don’t eat trans fat and the oxidized fat, you won’t have heart disease.”

Healthy Advice from a Scientist Who’s Nearly 100 Years Old

Dr. Kummerow was largely responsible for finding the association of pellagra and niacin deficiency, and the first researcher to identify the fact that trans fat was a major cause of heart disease. As he nears the age of 100, he’s still working; still researching, and his brain is as sharp as ever. If nothing else, he’s a true testament to what “right living” can do for you!

“I can tell you what I think: you have to have a healthy diet,” he says. “You have to exercise every day. I used to go swimming at noon, have my lunch along, and eat it in my laboratory. I always went swimming at least a half hour. I bicycled, too. I bicycled to work from my house, which was a mile away from my lab, every day.”

Vitamins K2 and D are also important players. Some researchers, like Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believe optimizing your vitamin D levels through regular sun exposure, opposed to taking an oral supplement, may be key to optimizing your heart health. Recent research published in the journal Menopause  also appears to offer support for Dr. Seneff’s theories on the cholesterol-vitamin D link.

Dr. Kummerow notes there is research showing that excessive amounts of vitamin D through supplementation actually promotes arterial calcification. But it’s important to distinguish between vitamin D created by your body in response to sun exposure, and vitamin D taken in pill form. For example, while it’s extremely difficult to reach excessive vitamin D levels (thereby causing arterial calcification) through sun exposure, vitamin K2 is critical for avoiding such results when you take high amounts of supplemental vitamin D.

I personally have not taken oral vitamin D in over four years. I get all of my vitamin D from exposure to the sun. The benefit of doing it this way is that your body has a built-in biofeedback mechanism that regulates the amounts of vitamin D that is made. This ensures you’ll have just the right amount your body needs.

Now, when you take oral vitamin D, you increase your need for vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity are actually produced by vitamin K2 deficiency, including the inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.

Sugar—Another Primary Driver of Heart Disease

While not discussed in this interview, I want to remind you that sugar is another primary dietary culprit in the development of heart disease. To protect your heart health, you need to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains. To safely and effectively reverse insulin and leptin resistance, thereby lowering your heart disease risk, you need to:

  1. Avoid sugar, processed fructose, and grains if you are insulin and leptin resistant. This effectively means you must avoid most processed foods

  2. Eat a healthful diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:

    • Large amounts of vegetables
    • Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals)
    • As much high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Most people actually need upwards of 50-85 percent fats in their diet for optimal health—a far cry from the 10 percent currently recommended.

Article Summary

  • You may not realize it, but Dr. Fred Kummerow, who is alive and nearly 100 years old, was the first scientist to document the toxicity of trans fats
  • Over the past 60 years, his research has repeatedly demonstrated that there’s NO correlation between high cholesterol and plaque formation that leads to heart disease
  • Dr. Kummerow’s work shows that it’s not cholesterol that causes heart disease; rather it’s the trans fats and oxidized cholesterol that are to blame
  • 95 percent of the food that most Americans eat is processed—and processed food is where all the trans fat lies
  • Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin, which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your body cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death
  • To protect your heart health, you also need to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains

More Information

While there are dozens of books on cholesterol out there, Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit was written by the person who first figured out the true foundational causes of heart disease, namely trans fat, and oxidized cholesterol from fried foods (fats damaged by heating). And he did it 57 years ago! If you have any interest in learning more about the ins and outs of cholesterol, I strongly encourage you to get Dr. Kummerow’s book. It’s available on Amazon, and is a really great read.

Click here to read Dr. Mercola’s entire article.

Article source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/11/cholesterol-trans-fats.aspx
photo credit: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2662/4130312845_147788be10_m_d.jpg
credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrtidd/4130312845 Mike Tidd

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