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Cholesterol

General characteristics

General characteristics

Cholesterol is a fat-like, steroidal substance that is present in the body and is a key component to many important bodily functions. At least 80% plus of our required cholesterol is manufactured in the liver with the remainder coming from the diet. It is released from the liver in response to bodily needs, is reabsorbed by the liver when in excess in the blood and can be excreted from the body bound up in the bile secretions. Cholesterol levels are also raised during times of emotional and physical stress. Cholesterol is only present in animals, no plants contain even a trace of it.
Cholesterol has several crucial roles in the health of our bodies including vitamin D synthesis, production of hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and cortisone, forms a structural component in the walls of cells, helps the body to utilise vitamins A, E and K, insulates and protects nerve cells, helps to maintain good immunity and vitality and helps in the production of bile and the digestion of dietary fats. Large amounts of cholesterol are found in the tissues of the brain, liver and spinal cord and it is a vital, structural component present in every single cell in the body.
Low levels of cholesterol have been shown to correspond to higher incidences of anxiety, depression and suicide, cancer, stroke, haemorrhage and lung disease according to researchers from Finland and the US.
Extremely high cholesterol levels (300 and above) as in hyperlididaemia and very low levels are probably harmful to health and an indication that some other disease process is in action and needs to be addressed. However, if you have been told that you have 'high cholesterol' you would be very wise to read and consider the information by Dr Uffe Ravnskov on the pages of his website http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

The following dietary advice is based on treatment for hyperlipidaemia and other disease processes where cholesterol levels are dangerously high.

Avoid low fat dairy foods as the stripping away of normal fats has been linked to an increased risk of diseases such as a variety of cancers, teenage acne and heart disease, to name but a few. Full fat dairy contains far more nutrients such as vitamins D, B and A which give many beneficial health effects. Use organic whenever possible to avoid hormones and other nasties.

Avoid all the processed and junk foods, refined carbohydrates, pastries, pies, cakes, ready made meals, packets, processed fats, oils, margarines and foods containing these ingredients.

Use honey, molasses and pure plant syrups if you need sweetness.

Eating at least 2-3 apples daily can reduce cholesterol blood levels by up to 30%. This reduction stops if the apple eating stops!

Seeds and nuts are rich in essential fatty acids and linolenic acid (a plant form of omega 3), as are oils made from them. The essential fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. Use walnuts, macadamia nuts, linseeds, safflower oil, hempseed and oil, wheatgerm oil, soya beans, rapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. The leaf purslane is also an excellent source and is very easy to grow on a windowsill.

Eat a bowl of porridge or muesli each day with organic oats as the base. Oats are efficient cholesterol reducers.

Eat only organic meat and dairy foods, butter, yoghurts etc in moderation but eat oily fish several times a week for the essential fatty acids they contain.

Increase your intake of fruits (especially apples), vegetables, seeds, nuts, complex carbohydrates in the form of wholegrains, fibre, water and herbal drinks. Plant based fibre is an excellent way to help keep cholesterol levels lower.

Sprinkle a pinch of dried seaweed over meals or use in soups and casseroles. You can remove the actual seaweed from the final meal if you want to and still gain its medicinal and nutritional benefit.

Consume uncooked, cold pressed olive oil each day by drizzling over meals, vegetable dishes and salads. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, an essential fatty acid.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Fenugreek seeds and artichoke leaf are both effective at lowering cholesterol. The powdered seeds of fenugreek and artichoke can be put in capsules and taken twice daily or use a teaspoon of crushed seeds and a teaspoon of artichoke leaf as a tea twice daily to maintain healthy fat ratios in the body.
Celery seeds are also useful for improving fat metabolism generally and cleaning the blood stream of excess cholesterol.
Garlic is known to have cholesterol lowering effects, especially when taken raw. Use 1/4 teaspoon daily added to cooked meals.
 
Irish moss is good at removing excess fats and lipids from the blood.
Add a pinch of chilli (cayenne) powder to herbal drinks and meals.
Ashwagandha has the effect of lowering the denser forms of cholesterol and improving fat metabolism generally.
Alfalfa tea is very effective for lowering cholesterol levels, particularly low density cholesterol. Drink 2 cups of the dried herb tea daily for a few weeks to see good effects.
Use turmeric in cooking and take a teaspoon in warm milk as a comforting drink or add to herb teas daily.
Make oatstraw and nettle tea a part of your daily fluid intake. It is tasty, nutritious and lowers cholesterol. Use a teaspoon of each per cup, 1 cup daily for maintenance and prevention or up to 3 cups daily for more rapid cholesterol lowering. Add a teaspoon of holy thistle and/or cornsilk dried herbs every other day or so for their cholesterol lowering actions.
Dandelion root and leaves can also lower high cholesterol levels.
Rice fermented with red yeast (sold as Cholestin) actually blocks cholesterol production so should be used with caution and for emergencies only.
A daily dose of hawthorn berry tincture will strengthen and protect the heart muscle and reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and blood vessel degeneration. Take a teaspoon in water up to 4 times daily for ever if needed.
Add elderberries to herb tea mixes.
Birch leaves are good for encouraging toxin and cholesterol elimination. Gather them in spring when they are fresh and dry them to use throughout the rest of the year. Take a teaspoon of dried leaves as a tea each day. They are also excellent for arthritis and rheumatism.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Adopt a regime of regular moderate exercise, even a 15-20 minute brisk walk daily will benefit the heart, circulation, mood and all round health.
Nicotine is known to raise cholesterol levels in the body so avoid smoking.
Low thyroid hormone levels are known to raise cholesterol levels so use a half a teaspoon of dried seaweed ( kelp in particular but any edible seaweed is good) daily to encourage thyroid health and promote a balanced and healthy hormone output.

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