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Wine & CheeseBenefits of Cholesterol and How To Have A Healthy Heart

The Benefits

Cholesterol is found in every cell of your body. Did you know that humans actually require cholesterol to perform a vast array of daily bodily functions? Some of these vital functions include repairing damaged tissues, maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, boosting performance of the brain, digesting food, building strong bones, building muscle, maintaining energy, libido, and fertility, regulating blood sugar, and protecting against infectious diseases. To meet these demands, the human body manufactures cholesterol on a daily basis.

In addition, cholesterol is the precursor necessary for your body to make Vitamin D.

The Danger

The danger actually occurs when the cholesterol becomes oxidized and adheres to inflamed arteries (which leads to arteriosclerosis). Arteries become inflamed for a variety of reasons. Four of the major causes of inflammation of the arteries are consumption of hydrogenated (trans) fats, consumption of homogenized dairy products, consumption of sugar, and exposure to chlorine (most notably in water supplies).

There is a test available that can give an indication of whether or not your arteries are inflamed (and to what degree). It is not specific for arteries alone, but is certainly worth checking. It is called the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test. If your arteries are not inflamed, the level should be less then 1 mg/L (0.1 mg/dL).

What You Can Do To Maintain Healthy Arteries

As you are probably aware, what you eat plays a large role in the health of your body. The health of your heart and blood vessels correlates directly with what you consume. In addition to avoiding unhealthy fat, you should make a conscious effort to consume adequate amounts of healthy fat. Essential fatty acids--especially the Omega 3's which are found in cold-water, fatty fish as well as flax seeds (linseeds), are severely deficient in the diet of many Americans. These heart-healthy Omega 3's are known to lower triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, and decrease the risk of blood clots.

Consumption of homogenized dairy products can be avoided by buying fresh, raw dairy products directly from your local farmer, or by avoiding dairy products altogether.

Exposure to chlorine can be minimized by installing a whole-house filtration system or hopefully, at the least, a shower filter and a drinking water filter (unless you are lucky enough to have well water).

How to Lower Your LDL and Raise Your HDL Cholesterol Levels

Leafy greens, which are loaded with naturally occurring antioxidants, are extremely healthy for the cardiovascular system. In addition to antioxidants, plants also contain sterols or stanols. These substances help block the absorption of cholesterol, resulting in a lowering of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Raw, whole foods such as spirulina, flax seeds (linseeds), legumes (beans), oats, cabbage, spinach, sweet potato, as well as alfalfa grass and barley grass are known to reduce total serum cholesterol levels. All of these whole foods are present in their raw form within the In-Liven probiotic supplement. In-Liven is a healthy addition to any diet, without the side effects of medication.

Along with maintaining healthy arteries and a normal total cholesterol level, you should strive to boost your high density lipoprotein (HDL) level. Recent studies have shown that consuming cocoa contributes to an elevation of HDL cholesterol.

Some quick and easy calculations you can do to determine your risk of a heart attack or stroke are in the tables below. Grab your latest blood test results and a calculator.

Cholesterol Cardiac Risk Factors

Cholesterol/HDL Ratio (Total Cholesterol divided by HDL):

Cardiac Risk Ratio in Males Ratio in Females
High risk (3X): 9.7 to 23.4 7.2 to 11.0
Above average risk (2X): 5.1 to 9.6 4.5 to 7.1
Average risk: 3.5 to 5.0 3.4 to 4.4
Below average risk (1/2): 1.0 to 3.4 1.0 to 3.3

HDL Percentage: HDL/Cholesterol x 100 (HDL divided by Total Cholesterol x 100):

Cardiac risk HDL in Males HDL in Females
High risk (3X): Below 10% Below 14%
Above average risk (2X): 10 to 19% 14 to 22%
Average risk: 20 to 29% 23 to 30%
Below average risk (1/2): Above 29% Above 30%

LDL/HDL Risk Ratio (LDL divided by HDL) Male or Female:

Cardiac risk Ratio in Males Ratio in Females
High risk (3X): 6.4 to 8.0 5.1 to 6.1
Above average risk (2X): 3.7 to 6.3 3.3 to 5.0
Average risk: 1.1 to 3.6 1.6 to 3.2
Below average risk (1/2): Below 1.1 Below 1.6

It is never too soon (or too late) to make healthy changes!

Note: People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs may suffer side effects including suppression of the immune system, impairment of brain function, depression, strokes, and cancer. The optimal cholesterol level (according to Dr. Joseph Mercola) is 200. Levels below 180 may lead to health problems and levels below 150 are considered to be a major dilemma.

1. Visioli F, Borsani L, et al. Diet and prevention of coronary heart disease: the potential role of phytochemicals. Cardiovasc Res. 2000; 47(3):419-425.
2. Baba S, Osakabe N, et. al. Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. March 2007; 85(3):709-717.

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