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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cholesterol NOT the cause of heart disease?

An emerging theory about cholesterol is causing quite a bit of controversy within the medical community. The theory is that cholesterol DOES NOT cause heart disease! If this is true, then the millions of people who are on statins simply to lower their cholesterol should not be taking them.

Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a Connecticut cardiologist, is one of the most vocal proponents of this theory. He lays it out in his new book, "The Great Cholesterol Myth." He bases much of his belief that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease on the fact that half of the people hospitalized for heart disease have high cholesterol.

That means the other half of people with heart disease have low cholesterol! He witnesses the same trend in his own practice. Half of the patients on which he performed angiograms had cholesterol that was very low, and then he had patients with very high cholesterol who had no heart disease at all.

He further explains that cholesterol is quite good for the maintenance of good health. Dr. Sinatra asserts that only a very rare type of LDL cholesterol, the small, dense particles, are harmful. He says doctors should perform particle size tests to check for that, but should do away with the HDL/LDL test because it does not yield results that are less specific than the particle size tests.

So if cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease, what about all the people who take statins for the sole purpose of lowering their cholesterol? Dr. Sinatra and other doctors like him say for the most part, those patients should stop taking their statins. Sinatra says there are exceptions, however, such as middle-aged men who have a history of heart disease.

Statin users suffer with many side-effects. Fatigue, muscle pain, erectile dysfunction are just a few. People who are over 70 are particularly vulnerable, as they often experience forgetfulness that has nothing to do with the normal aging process, but is simply a reaction to the statin they are taking, which they may not even need.

One of the key side-effects of statins is the reduction of CoQ-10, a wonderful vitamin-like substance that our bodies naturally manufacture. CoQ-10 is vital for good health, so anyone taking a statin should take a CoQ-10 supplement, 200 mg each day, 100mg in the morning, and 100 mg in the evening.  Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies produce less CoQ-10, so even people who do not take a statin but are over the age of 40 should take 50 mg of CoQ-10 once a day.

So if cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease, what is? In a word: INFLAMMATION.

It's a silent killer that has also been linked to cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. The number one cause of inflammation is eating too much sugar.

That is so important it bears repeating: The number one cause of deadly inflammation is eating too much sugar. The average American eats 156 pounds of sugar a year. Two hundred years ago the average American ate 20 pounds of sugar a year.

Most people know what it means to stop eating so much sugar. Obviously it involves avoiding sweets such as dessert food and soda, but it goes way beyond that. It means cutting-out fruit juice, sports drinks, and scanning a product's list of ingredients for hidden sugars.

Do not rely on the packaging itself because food manufacturers often place misleading statements about the nutritional value of a food on the labels. Checking the list of ingredients for sugars like high fructose corn syrup, really any type of syrup, or high concentrated fruit juice, also items ending in -ose, such as sucrose, dexrose, maltose, etc. is imperitive, If the product contains sugar, don't buy it.

Another abundant source of sugar in our diet is refined carbohydrates. These are all the processed grains, mostly processed wheat, that turn into sugar the moment you eat them. Process carbohydrates include all white breads, bagels, muffins, crackers, pasta, and rice. Pass on all these items if you want to reduce the amount of sugar you eat.

Aside from eating too much sugar, another cause of inflammation is eating trans fats. Trans fats are manufactured in a lab. They are not natural! They are oils that have been infused with hydrogen. Therefore, they are listed as "hydrogenated" oils in the list of ingredients.

Once again, do no rely on claims that a product is "trans fat free" of has "0 grams trans fat" because often such claims are misleading and the product does indeed contain trans fats. In order to know for sure, check the list of ingredients for the word, "hydrogenated" and if you see it, don't eat that food.

Inflammation is also caused by smoking. So if you smoke, you must stop. If you've tried before, try again. It's been said that it takes five tries before a person actually quits. Most doctors say the drug, Chantix is the best smoking cessation drug out on the market and that it really works. There are some pretty hefty side-effects, though. So make sure you discuss all of those before you get your prescription.

Inflammation is also cause by eating processed meats. These are meats that you find in the deli section. They are meats that have been salted, smoked, cured, or otherwise changed from their raw state. Lunch meats and hot dogs fall into this category. So stay away from processed meats.

Too many Omega-6 fats also cause inflammation. Omega-6 fats are vegetable oils, the liquid kind. If you eat Omega-6 oils, you should balance that out by eating the same amount of Omega-3 oils, Omega-3 oils are found in fish, nuts, and avacados. Most Americans eat 15 times the amount of Omega-6 fats as they do Omega-3 fats. It should be a 1:1 ratio.

Interestingly, Dr. Sinatra and his colleagues who do not believe cholesterol causes heart disease tout the benefits of not only unsaturated fats such as olive oil, but also saturated fats such as coconut oil and butter and unprocessed meats.

If you'd like to know more about this crucial yet complicated subject, read the book, The Great Cholesterol Myth.

posted @ Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:23 PM | Feedback (0)