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Cholesterol is not the big bad wolf

by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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The wheels of science spin slowly. A new study has discovered what alternative medicine practitioners have been saying for over 20 years. High cholesterol levels are not as great a risk factor for heart disease as inflammation. Cholesterol in the blood is not the problem. Free radical damage to artery walls establishes chemical irritation and inflammation that leads to the deposition of plaque in arteries. What damages artery walls? Trans fats.

As a result of this study, you will be hearing a lot about measuring C-reactive protein levels to determine the degree of inflammation in your body. In November recommendations for measuring C-reactive protein will be added to those for regular cholesterol testing. Don’t be fooled by the arbitrary normal levels established for cholesterol levels in the blood. A total cholesterol of 239 or greater is associated with heart disease. A goal of 200 or 180 will sell more cholesterol lowering drugs, but will not necessarily prevent heart disease.

Modern medicine discovered that a daily aspirin dose reduces the incidence of heart attacks. This is probably because of its anti-inflammatory capabilities, but aspirin also causes irritation of the stomach. A better answer is to prevent inflammation with omega-3 fat supplements and antioxidants. Adults should take fish oil (2,000 mg of EPA per day) and/or flax seed oil (one tablespoon per day). Eat foods rich in antioxidants (greens, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, blueberries, and fruits). And take vitamin E. Anyone who takes medications that can cause liver damage (e.g. acetominophen, ibuprofen, etc.) should take additional antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-cysteine) and herbal formulas to protect the liver .

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