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Are Lower LDL Levels Always Beneficial?

Monday, March 03, 2008 by: Dr. Phil Domenico
Tags: cholesterol, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Lowering cholesterol is a core principle of cardiology. However, with the results of two recent clinical trials, that theory is being seriously questioned, as is the value of some widely used cholesterol-lowering medicines.

In 2006, an experimental drug from Pfizer was shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol), but it also caused heart attacks and strokes. And recently, a Merck and Schering-Plough drug (Vytorin) was shown to enhance the growth of fatty arterial plaque in patients, despite lowering LDL. Meanwhile, Merck is seeking approval for sale of Cordaptive, a drug that raises HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol, without providing data showing a health benefit. Some cardiology experts now regard the idea of improving health by lowering LDL as too simplistic. The question is whether FDA regulators still accept the theory that lowering cholesterol is always a good thing.

Statin drugs (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor), which reduce cholesterol, are also thought to reduce heart attacks and strokes. However, these drugs can produce serious side effects, and do not address the real problem of heart disease. Despite widespread use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, obesity is on the rise, and heart disease remains the biggest killer in the industrialized nations. The pharmaceutical approach does not address lifestyle changes and the nutritional intervention needed to correct chemical imbalances.

Lowering cholesterol the natural way entails eating more non-starchy veggies and fruits, more nuts and seeds, and less meat and vegetable oils. Instead, cook with olive oil and eat organic meat, chicken, milk and eggs in moderation. Organic animal products have a much better balance of healthy fats, which are essential to heart health. Also, reduce total carb intake and restrict them to whole grains and nutrient-rich foods (e.g. sweet potatoes).

Interestingly, fish oil can increase LDL, but is very important for heart health. Several B vitamins also impact cholesterol health, including niacin, vitamin B12, and pantothenic acid. Pantethine (a precursor to pantothenic acid) has been shown to reduce LDL significantly. Antioxidants (e.g. berries, pomegranate, apples, spirulina, spinach, green tea, wine, vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, grape seed extract, coQ10, garlic, etc.) are also heart-protective.

Plant sterols (beta-sitosterol) can reduce cholesterol by 10%. The peel of citrus fruits (i.e. Sytrinol) reduces levels of apolipoprotein B needed for LDL synthesis. Also, minerals such as chromium and magnesium, preferably in their organic, chelated forms, have also been shown to correct metabolic imbalances and reduce cholesterol. These nutrients can also protect against the side effects of statin drugs (especially coQ10 and magnesium). In contrast to drugs, lowering cholesterol the natural way almost always means a healthier outcome.

About the author

Dr. Phil Domenico is a nutritional scientist and educator with a research background in biochemistry and microbiology. Formerly an infectious disease scientist, he now works as a consultant for supplement companies and the food industry.

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