The Cholesterol Story: Are You Fighting Heart Disease? - Part 2

The Cholesterol Story: Are You Fighting Heart Disease? - Part 2

The Diseases Of Oxidized Cholesterol

Oxidized lipids are associated with earlier and more severe atherosclerosis especially in the presence of dietary cholesterol.131132 Atherosclerosis is not limited to the heart, it can occur any where there are blood vessels, like the penis. Every 1 mg/dL increase in total cholesterol increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by about 1%.133134135136 The brain suffers, too, because lipid oxidation increases Alzheimer’s disease risk.137

A high cholesterol diet depresses natural killer cells activity by 75%, making cholesterol a dangerous food if you want your immune system to fight off viruses responsible for pandemic flu, cancer or autoimmune diseases.138 In fact, oxidized
cholesterol increases the risk of skin cancer, colon cancer,139140 ulcerative colitis leading to cancer, breast disease leading to cancer, and prostate hyperplasia leading to cancer.141

The blood is usually anti-inflammatory; Relatively brief periods (days) of elevated cholesterol can result in the blood becoming pro- inflammatory increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.142143

Gallstones are increased by oxidized cholesterol.144145

Drug Pitfalls

Caffeine, 200 mg intake of per day, (about 2 cups of coffee) can increase total cholesterol by 11 mg/dL.146147

Daily caffeine consumption also increases LDL,148 increases triglycerides,149 increases the risk of heart attack,150 and decreases HDL.151

“Pack a day” smokers can expect: 18 mg/dL triglycerides increase per pack, 3.5 mg/dL HDL decrease per pack.152153 Second hand smoke also lowers HDL similarly.154

Triglycerides can be elevated by even small amounts of alcohol; one drink per day increases triglycerides by 10 mg/dL.152

Use of oral contraceptives has been shown to increase LDL by 47% and VLDL by 57%.155156

Cholesterol drugs (statins): are they safe? Some of the most noted problems with the statins are muscle pains, rhabdomyolysis (a disintegration of the muscles) and liver toxicity.157158 Not all brain failure is due to aging or high cholesterol, statins have been found to play a role as well. Statins have been found to cause cognitive impairment159 and memory loss.160161 Statins also seriously decrease coenzyme Q10,162163164 a powerful anti-oxidant involved in prevention of heart disease.165 This may also be why statins can worsen congestive heart failure.166 Statins are such powerful suppressors of the immune system167 that they are being tested and considered for use in organ transplant immunosuppressive chemotherapy168169 and for autoimmune diseases.170171172 Most things that suppress the immune system leave way for the development of cancer:

“In some randomized trials, notwithstanding their short duration, statins have been found to increase cancer incidence especially in the elderly and women. In these situations, the decrease in cardiovascular mortality can be matched by an equal increase in cancer mortality, leaving all-cause mortality unchanged.”173

Dietary/lifestyle interventions [diet high in plant sterols, soy protein, fiber, and almonds] have been shown to lower cholesterol by 28%.174 Compared to lifestyle interventions, the statin drug therapy offers no cholesterol lowering advantage.

Lifestyle Caused The Problem, Why Not Trust Lifestyle To Fix It?

Choosing a high complex carbohydrate, whole plant food diet over the typical American diet has been shown in studies to lowered total cholesterol by 30 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 26 mg/dL.175176 One such diet is the Hawaii Diet, based on their traditional foods, is high in complex carbohydrate (77% of calories), low in fat (12% of calories), moderate in protein (11% of calories). It lowers cholesterol by 50 points.177 Incidentally, just replacing white rice with brown rice, whole grains and beans in coronary artery disease patients, increases their: fiber intake by 25%, vitamin E intake by 41%, other antioxidants by 11%-40%; and reduces: lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress by 28%, homocysteine concentrations by 28% and blood sugars by 24%.178

Restriction of fat intake, especially saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, has been shown to reduced total cholesterol by 20 mg/dl, triglycerides by 40 mg/dl, and increase HDL-cholesterol by 5 mg/dL.179 Patients with lower blood antioxidants levels have more atherosclerosis.180 Lifestyle modifications have been shown to increase antioxidant levels and reduce oxidative stress in coronary artery disease patients.181

There are plant nutrients that can block the re-absorption of “soap” (cholesterol) from the small intestine. These nutrients in plants are called sterols, or, phytosterols, since they come from plants.182 Two grams of phytosterols can lower LDL cholesterol by 10%.183184185 Foods highest in these phytosterols include: Nuts such as brazil, pecan, pine, pistachio, cashew,186 macadamia,187 walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts;188 Seeds—sesame seeds are very high in phytosterols;189 Beans, such as soybeans and peas; Whole grains like Amaranth;190 Fruit such as navel oranges, tangerines, and mangos; and vegetables such as, cauliflower, broccoli, and romaine lettuce.191 Refining and/or processing foods decrease their phytosterol content making hypercholesterolemia more likely.192

Good Oils and Good Sterols

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and have been shown to significantly lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.193194 Walnuts lower total cholesterol and LDL while fish raise total cholesterol and LDL.195 Daily consumption of 80 gm of walnuts for two months can reduce LDL levels by 16%.196 Raw almonds, 100 gm of per day, can reduce total cholesterol by 20 mg/dL.197 Pistachios improve HDL lipid ratios.198 Sunflower seeds are high in natural occurring unsaturated oils and have been found to lower cholesterol levels.199200201

Does something seem “fishy” about salmon oil capsules for cholesterol problems? Salmon oil capsules are less effective than olive oil in preventing lipid peroxidation, hypercholesterolemia and arteriosclerosis.202203 Daily fish oil supplementation can raise your total cholesterol by 9.1% and LDL by 4.8%.204205 Olive oil, a source of omega-3s and phytosterols, increases HDL-cholesterol levels, while decreasing LDL-cholesterol levels, LDL susceptibility to oxidation and lipid per oxidation.206 I recommend getting your olive oil by eating the actual olive not the factory produced oil.

Flax, a rich source of omega-3 monounsaturated oil, helps lower cholesterol.207 Omega-3s, 1.5 mg per day, have been shown to lower triglycerides by 37%.208 Maybe you have been trying to lower your cholesterol through the use of omega-3 oils but seem to be making no progress. If your still eating cholesterol, omega-3s won’t lower your LDL.209

Replacing cheese with vegetable fat can lower: Total cholesterol by 23 mg/dL, and LDL by 17 mg/dL. Replacing cheese with nuts can lower: Total cholesterol by 41 mg/dL, and LDL by 33 md/dL.210 Eating whole plant foods is the most effective way of lowering cholesterol.


Cholesterol can be adsorbed from the intestine by certain foods and substances. These adsorbents carry cholesterol out in the stool so that it does not get re-absorbed into the body. Charcoal is one of these. As a supplement, it has been shown to significantly lower cholesterol.211212 Eight grams three times per day can lower total cholesterol by 25% and LDL by 41%, while raising HDL by 8%.213214 Fiber absorbs cholesterol in the intestine preventing its re-entry into the body. Each additional gram of water-soluble fiber in the diet lowers total cholesterol by 1.1 mg/dL.215 For each gram of a particular fiber, total cholesterol decreases by; 1.0 mg/dL for guar gum, 1.1 mg/dL for psyllium (e.g. Metamucil), 1.5 mg/dL for oat bran, and 2.7 mg/dL for fruit pectin.216 Each addition of 10 g of fiber to the diet reduces the risk of dying of a heart attack by 17%.217

There are many good sources of fiber. Grains are high in fiber that absorb cholesterol. Oats and oat bran contain fiber and phytochemicals that adsorb bile salts and cholesterol from the intestines carrying them out in the feces. Twelve weeks of 14 g/d oat bran can lower LDL by 2.5% and triglycerides by 6.6%.218 Barley contains approximately 10% dietary fiber219 that can significantly reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.220221 Rice bran not only lowers cholesterol, it also has some antioxidants that reduce oxidized cholesterol.222 Regular buckwheat consumption reduces cholesterol.223224 One caveat, while whole wheat products may be considered a valuable source of fiber, for some reason a diet high in wheat products has been shown to raise total cholesterol by about 10 mg/dL.225

There are other good plant sources of cholesterol lowering fiber. Prunes lower total and LDL cholesterol,226227 decrease oxidative stress, fight inflammation and have been discovered to decrease atherosclerotic plaque in blood vessels.228229

Grapefruit, especially red grapefruit, contain bioactive compounds which lower cholesterol.230 Four weeks of grapefruit pectin can lower LDL cholesterol by 11%.231 Grapefruit pectin also lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis by 50%.232 Beet fiber, 30 g/day can lower cholesterol by 10%.233 Psyllium (e.g. Metamucil), 5.1 g twice daily, can lower total cholesterol 8.9% and LDL-cholesterol 13.0%.234

The combined effects of plant sterols, vegetable proteins, and fiber have been shown to reduce LDL by 29.0% and the ratio of LDL to HDL by 26.5%. Near maximal reductions have been seen in two weeks.235 What if I don’t get results in two weeks? Maybe you are cheating? One high fat food item eaten during those 2 weeks will reset the liver’s soap factory back to maximal production! This is a lifestyle change commitment, not a short-term quick-fix diet.

Beans (Besides Soy Mentioned Earlier)

Beans, 120 g per day, can lower cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations by 10.4%.236 Four cans of garbanzos per week can reduce total cholesterol by 8 points and LDL by 7.237


Vegetables have lots of fiber and antioxidants such as carotenoids, polyphenols and vitamin C. This explains their protective effects against cardiovascular diseases. Carrots have been shown to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, reduce cholesterol re-adsorption in the bowel, and improve blood stream antioxidant status.238 Garlic counteracts atherosclerosis and lipid oxidation.239 Regular garlic consumption can reduce total cholesterol by 7%,240241 and reduce blood lipid per oxidation.242 Red onions are more effective than garlic at lowering blood lipids.243 Daily onion consumption can reduce plasma triglyceride levels by as much as 15%.244 Turmeric is an effective antioxidant in combating lipid per oxidation.245 Studies show that alfalfa sprouts reduce cholesterol levels both in the blood and in the liver where it is produced and stored.246247 Celery consumption has been found to significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides.248249250


Low dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to result in increased blood cholesterol levels251252 and increased risk of heart disease.253 On the other hand, increased dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.254255

Foods high in vitamin C include strawberries, bell peppers, chives, red cabbage, broccoli, pineapple, oranges / lemons, kale, cauliflower, peas, etc. (Notice no fish, coffee or tea are on the list. If you’re eating foods that are totally deficient in a vital nutrient, your body must draw from it own reserves just to survive and in time you will totally deplete your own hard earned supplies!)

There are many helpful fruits we could mention in addition to the ones already talked about. Pomegranates help combat lipid peroxidation and cholesterol oxidation.256 Apples contain quercetin,257 a phytochemical, that helps combat heart disease by reducing the effects of oxidized cholesterol on blood vessels.258

Sugar/Refined Carbohydrates And Cholesterol

Increased blood sugar combined with increased blood cholesterol multiply the risk of atherosclerosis.259 Elevated blood sugars (as seen in diabetics) lead to elevated triglycerides.260 A rise in blood insulin is followed by a rise in cholesterol production and this increases the risk of coronary artery disease.261262 Elevated insulin also lowers HDL.263 Elevated HbA1c levels correlate with elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.264265 Eliminating all foods with refined sugars from your diet can reduce triglycerides by 20%.266267

Fructose, a sugar often obtained from corn, is a very dangerous chemical. Dietary fructose specifically increases: LDL by 14%, oxidized LDL cholesterol by 13%, total cholesterol by 10% and visceral fat by 9%.268269 Soda pop is often sweetened with this chemical. Soda consumption, one or more cans per day, increases risk of: metabolic syndrome 45% (diabetes is included in this syndrome), low HDL by 32%, central obesity 30% and high triglycerides 25%.270

Honey does not carry the health risks of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and highly refined, high glycemic index foods. Compared to these honey can reduce; total cholesterol by 3%, LDL 6%, triglycerides 11%, blood sugar 4%, inflammation 3%, and increased HDL by 3%.271

Carbohydrates fried with oil create Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), toxins which activate the body’s inflammatory mediators.272 Advanced Glycation End Products, are chemical combinations of sugars with fats or proteins, and they accelerate atherosclerosis via enhancement of oxidative stress.273274 Some foods have far more of these dangerous chemicals, for example, a slice of 100% whole wheat bread has 536 units of AGEs, whereas one glazed doughnut can have a much as 425,740 units of AGEs.275 Going on a low calorie diet for two months will markedly reduce dangerous Advanced Glycation End Products.276

Lifestyle Improvements

People who eat breakfast regularly have significantly lower cholesterol levels.277

Scheduled regularity improves cholesterol, lowers total and LDL cholesterol, and raises HDL.278 Daily irregularity, such as shift work, raises cholesterol.279 What’s more, shift workers are 174% more likely to have elevated triglycerides and 81% more likely to have abdominal obesity than workers on a routine schedule.280

Cholesterol rises after a meal and is more prolonged after an evening meal than meals taken during the day.281282

When you snack, food stays in your stomach much longer. The longer it takes to empty your stomach the more cholesterol will be adsorbed.283 Eating between meals (snacking) also reduces HDL cholesterol.284

Pure water is a key to controlling the body’s oxidative stress and inflammation. Distilled water lowers the risks associated with high cholesterol levels while tap water raises the risks.285286 Dehydration causes relative elevation in the blood lipids such as total HDL and LDL cholesterol.287

Obesity is a risk factor for increased blood cholesterol levels. A body mass index (BMI) of 25, categorized as over weight, increases the risk of hypercholesterolemia by 250%, being obese (BMI of 30) increases that risk to 540%.288 Waist circumference is also a negative indicator of health, triglycerides go up and HDL goes down with increasing waist circumference.289

Vitamin D is a potent inhibitor of damage caused by lipid per oxidation.290 Vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol during sun exposure. Twice weekly sunbathing can significantly improve LDL/HDL ratios lowering heart disease risks.291 Because gardeners get more sun and fresh air, they have higher vitamin D levels, and enjoy lower cholesterol levels.292

Athletes have significantly lower total cholesterol and significantly higher HDL cholesterol.293 In fact, the more vigorous you exercise the lower your risk of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes.294 Endurance training significantly: lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol at the same time it increases HDL cholesterol.295 Resistance training or weight lifting reduces triglycerides by about 18%.296 Exercise therapy, at a heart rate of around 135 bpm for 30 minutes 3 times/week, can decrease triglycerides by 20 mg/dL and increase HDL by 10 mg/dL.297 Choosing the stairs over an elevator 5 times a day can lower LDL cholesterol by 8%.298 Walking for exercise, 30 minutes a day, significantly lowers triglycerides and total cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol.299 Walking 6,000 or more steps per day has been shown to lower triglycerides 10 mg/dL and raise HDL 3 mg/dL.

Eating less food, “caloric restriction” by 25% lowers triglycerides 31 mg/dL. Together with exercise, caloric restriction has been shown to lower LDL 16 mg/dL.300301302

Too little sleep raises total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.303304305 Longer sleep duration is related to higher total cholesterol level and a higher total/HDL cholesterol ratio.306 Both under sleep and over sleep increase triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol.307

People showing other clinical signs of stress have a 180% higher risk of elevated cholesterol.308309310 On the other hand, laughter may boost HDL by as much as 23%.311

Religious observance has a lowering effect on total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL while elevating HDL.312313 This may be a testimony to its impact on stress. Jesus said, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”314 “You cannot eat your way into heaven, but you can eat your way out of heaven.”—Ed Reid. A mind bogged down with excess fat or cholesterol is in no position to interact with our loving Creator.


  • Avoid food that require much soap to digest (i.e. fats).
  • Avoid animal protein because it stimulates your liver to produce cholesterol.
  • Eliminate all oxidized cholesterol from your diet.
  • Maximize your whole plant food, fiber, and pure water intake in your diet and lifestyle.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Turn your stress over to God.


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Comments ( 2 ) Leave a Comment
  1. 1 Neph Apr 13, 2012, 2:12 AM PDT

    The statement is made that 100mg almonds lowers total cholesterol. Should that be 100gm almonds?

  2. 2 Trudie Apr 13, 2012, 3:05 AM PDT

    According to the pubmed abstract, it is 100mg of almonds. However, in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, it is indeed 100 g!

    Good catch Neta.

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