Is High Cholesterol Bad for Me?
Note: Please do not use this article to stop taking medication or as an excuse not to talk to your doctor. I don’t know you or your situation, and even if I did, I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to treat illness. This is for your information only, to make more informed decisions.
I recently wrote a very long article about whether or not a Paleo diet will raise your cholesterol. If you have the time, please check it out and repin the infographic there.
And I will be coming out with another article shortly titled Cholesterol and Heart Disease: The Cholesterol Myth and What Really Causes Heart Disease.
However, if you want a simple answer to whether or not you should be worried about high cholesterol, then this is as simple as I can make it. There are no links to studies or in-depth explanations in this article – that’s all in the other 2 articles.
Does High Cholesterol Lead to Heart Disease?
Heart disease is caused primarily by inflammation and oxidation, not by high cholesterol.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to high cholesterol. If your cholesterol is getting particularly high, then it can be a sign that cholesterol is not getting cleared from your blood, which can actually lead to inflammation and oxidation. You might need to get your thyroid checked or search for other root causes.
In any case, though, high cholesterol is more of a symptom than a problem in and of itself.
Low Cholesterol Doesn’t Mean There’s No Problem
Because inflammation and oxidation are the root causes of heart disease, you could have low cholesterol and still have a problem. All it takes is for the LDL that is in your blood to get oxidized at a high rate, and then you’ll start developing atherosclerosis.
In other words, while high cholesterol should be viewed as a sign of a different underlying problem, don’t assume that you’re OK with low cholesterol if you’re eating badly or living an inflammatory lifestyle.
So How Should I Prevent Heart Disease?
Eat well, be active, sleep a lot, and destress.
You already knew the answer to this. There’s no magic, no pill, and no particular food you need to eat.
Eat real food. Walk as much as possible. Sleep at least 8 hours. Relax and get out into nature.
If I Do Have High Cholesterol, What Else Should I Do?
In addition to reducing overall inflammation by doing what I just suggested, I would also do the following:
1. Get Your Thyroid Tested. Get a full thyroid panel, with free T3, total T3, reverse T3, total T4, TSH, and thyroid antibodies. For more information on fixing your thyroid, read this article from Chris Kresser.
2. Get an Oxidized LDL Test and/or an Arterial Plaque Scan. An oxidized ldl test (which you can order online) will tell you how much of your cholesterol is being oxidized and likely starting to clog your arteries.
Even better, an arterial plaque scan (order through your doctor) will tell you how much plaque is building up in your arteries, which will tell you exactly how worried you need to be.
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