Cholesterol is found in every cell of our body. Without it, the body could not make hormones, vitamin D, or the membranes of the cells. In fact, cholesterol is so vital that if you ate none, your body will manufacture it. However, if you don’t eat the nutrients your body needs to handle it, then cholesterol can become harmful.
A 20th Century Disease
Coronary vascular disease, also known as heart disease, is a relatively modern disease and is caused by the lack of nutrients in some of the foods we eat in Western Societies. It is also due to some ingredients food manufacturers add to foods that were non-existence in the past. Let’s see some of the factors that can cause heart disease:
Essential nutrients such as antioxidants and fibre have been removed from whole grains.
Inorganic minerals and vitamins such as iron and vitamin D have been added to replace the natural vitamins that have been removed from foods.
Toxic ingredients such as hydrogenated fats are in many processed foods.
Oils have been refined, creating fats that are a hazard to our health.
Hidden toxic sugars are added to most packaged foods.
High blood pressure is rampant because of the amount of sodium we ingest through processed foods and menus at fast-food restaurants.
The practices above are the normal way of eating in our society for many of us and the consequences are here to stay unless we change habits. Millions of people have already heart disease and a large percentage will die of a heart attack. Unfortunately, children are also getting into the habit of eating this way and they will pay a high price when reaching adulthood.
Oxidized cholesterol is the culprit
Cholesterol damages our arteries and starts the formation of plaque when it is oxidized by free radicals. Although our body has an internal mechanism to neutralize free radicals, sometimes it may not be enough and we need outside help in the form of antioxidants. There are two circumstances when the antioxidant apparatus in our body can fail us:
We do not eat enough foods that contain antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium, and CoQ10.
When our free radicals outnumber our defence system. this happens when we smoke, drink too much alcohol, we are under a lot of stress, ingest too much iron, overeat, get too much sun and we don’t get enough sleep.
The consequences of oxidized cholesterol
When cholesterol is oxidized by free radicals, several things happen:
- It damages the arteries and starts the formation of plaque
- It damages the calcium pump, the pump that controls the amount of calcium in your heart cells. Too much calcium in the heart cells will stop the heart from beating
- It causes inflammation, the main cause of artery disease
How can you stop cholesterol from oxidizing?
Eat foods that contain antioxidants in its natural state. Those foods include:
- Whole grains
- Unrefined oils
- Meats, eggs, milk, and any animal product that comes from organic animals, animals raised with good farming practices
- Raw nuts in moderation
Do not eat:
- Hydrogenated fats
- Products with added sugar
- Products made with refined flour
- Refined oils
- Salted and toasted nuts
- Be aware of fast-food restaurants
I read once that if cholesterol went on trial, the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence. Actually, the defence lawyer could argue the following:
Before this epidemic of heart disease, people ate more fat from animals that now.
Cholesterol consumption has remained the same over the past 100 years, while heart disease has increased dramatically.
Half of the people with heart disease have cholesterol levels that are either normal or low.
Traditional Eskimos eat more cholesterol and saturated fat than anyone and they have the lowest rate of heart disease of any group known.
While it is true that cholesterol can hurt us when is oxidized, one thing we don’t want in our body is high levels of it. Too much cholesterol as well as too little is also damaging because there are more chances that it can get oxidized. Thus, keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.