Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Cholesterol is what heart disease acts upon.
Cholesterol is a good thing. The more you have, the longer you’ll live.
In fact, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet did a study that looked at 724 people and followed them for 10 years. Researchers found that higher cholesterol meant a lower chance of dying from any cause.(1)
Cholesterol is a part of your body, and it’s a bad idea to declare war on a part of your body.
Unfortunately, many people who rely on mainstream medicine for health information haven’t gotten the message.
The way modern medicine treats cholesterol is the same as saying, “You have Alzheimer’s disease, let’s cut off your head.” It’s like if you come to me to have your bone mineral density measured, and I say, “We’ve found a problem with your bones. We have to take them out.”
You treat the problem, not the part of your anatomy that the problem is affecting. But that’s what we’ve done with cholesterol. Because it’s diseased doesn’t mean you want to get rid of it. You want to get rid of the disease.
All things being equal, the more cholesterol you have the better. A study from the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University found that elders with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did elders with high cholesterol.(2)
Cholesterol is a normal and important part of your anatomy. You need your cholesterol. It becomes diseased because there are unnatural inflammatory and oxidative pressures that are distorting it and causing it to be diseased.
Cholesterol isn’t the bad guy. It’s the oxidation and inflammation that are the bad guys.
And you don’t remove the part of your body that the bad guys are acting on.
The solution I use with my patients who have inflammation is to try and get their HDL to be as high as half of their triglycerides.
There’s no evidence that high cholesterol increases heart risk if your HDL is at least half your triglycerides.
If you can make your HDL higher than your triglycerides, that’s even better.
My HDL is twice as high as my triglycerides, and I’m proud of my high cholesterol.
A pretty good HDL level is about 45. And we want your triglycerides to be below 150, normally. But if you can get your triglycerides down to 100, and your HDL up to 50, then it doesn’t matter what your total cholesterol is. There is no risk.
In my case, I actually had my HDL at twice my triglycerides.
Here’s how I got my triglycerides down to 50 and I got my HDL up to105, and you can, too:
Step 1) Use my four secrets and be proud of your high cholesterol:
- I ate a whole bunch of garlic. A decade worth of studies prove garlic significantly lowers triglycerides while raising HDL. With so much evidence, you’d think modern medicine would stop ignoring garlic’s benefits and start recommending at least two cloves a day.
I ate even more. I put it in my omelet for breakfast. I used garlic and olive oil dressing on a chicken salad or fish salad I would have for lunch most days. In the evening I would use garlic in a side dish like stir-fry vegetables.
And you know the odor that garlic produces? Your body tends to handle it better with time. It comes from the sulfur, but your body gets better at processing it. I only noticed a garlic odor at the beginning and after a few days it went away.
- I took 2 grams of niacin every day. Niacin can raise HDL by 15 to 35 percent. This makes niacin, a simple B vitamin, more effective than any cholesterol drug ever invented.
- I took 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil a day. It’s one of the richest sources of omega-3 on earth, and the more omega-3 you get, the lower your triglycerides will be. A new study gave people 3 grams of omega-3 a day, and lowered their triglycerides by 27%.3 There are 15 grams of omega-3 in a tablespoon of cod liver oil.
Studies also show that triglycerides weaken HDL, and stop it from having its full protective effect on your heart.(4) That makes omega-3 HDL’s best friend. And taking it is simple and easy. It doesn’t have the fishy taste it did when your grandmother may have forced you to take it years ago. My cod liver oil has a clean lemon-lime flavor.
- I worked out with PACE, because intense, short periods of exertion like I describe in my PACE program will reliably boost HDL. For example, one study looked at Navy personnel going through intense training and after only 5 days, their HDL had increased 31%.(5)
Step 2) Eat low-glycemic foods to drive down your triglycerides.
A good idea I use with my patients – and it’s the way I eat, too – is to stick with low-glycemic foods, which can really get your triglycerides way under 150.
Here’s how it works…
Usually, insulin helps you convert triglycerides into energy. When you constantly eat starchy grains or sugary food, your body produces lots of insulin to try to process all the blood sugar. Over time, you become resistant to the effects of all that insulin, and you don’t convert triglycerides into energy. They stay in your blood.
A new review from the Framingham Heart Study followed almost 3,000 people for 14 years. Those who were more insulin resistant had higher triglycerides and lower HDL.(6)
To raise HDL and lower triglycerides, I have my patients stay away from carbs that come from grains, refined sugars and processed foods. I also have them avoid trans-fats, caffeine and high fructose corn syrup, which all increase insulin resistance.
Instead, I have them eat mostly protein from animals. Animal protein has zero effect on your blood sugar. It also raises your insulin sensitivity and lowers your triglyceride levels.
One incredible study on the effect of eating protein instead of carbs is from the Southern Medical Journal. They gave people foods consisting mostly of beef and beef fat. They ate no sugars, milk, or grains. Their triglyceride levels dropped 35%, while their percentage of HDL jumped 50%.(7)
Click here for my glycemic index that shows you which foods spike your blood sugar and cause you to make waves of insulin and can even cause you to have a low blood sugar “crash.”
Eating low-GI foods stabilizes your blood sugar. This makes your insulin work better, keeping your triglycerides low, and your HDL high.
1 Weverling-Rijnsburger AW, Blauw GJ, Lagaay AM, Knook DL, Meinders AE, Westendorp RG. “Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old.” Lancet. 1997 Oct 18;350(9085):1119-23.
2 Krumholz HM et. al. “Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years.” JAMA 1990; 272, 1335-1340.
3 Skulas-Ray AC, Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Vanden Heuvel JP, Wagner PR, West SG. “Dose-response effects of omega-3 fatty acids on triglycerides, inflammation, and endothelial function in healthy persons with moderate hypertriglyceridemia.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):243-52.
4 Li Tian, et. al. “The impact of plasma triglyceride and apolipoproteins concentrations on high-density lipoprotein subclasses distribution.” Lipids Health Dis. 2011; 10: 17.
5 Smoak, B.L., Norton, J.P., Ferguson, E.W., et al, “Changes in lipoprotein profiles during intense military training,” J. Am. Coll. Nutr. Dec. 1990;9(6):567-72
6 Sander J. Robins; Asya Lyass; Justin P. Zachariah; Joseph M. Massaro; Ramachandran S. Vasan. “Insulin Resistance and the Relationship of a Dyslipidemia to Coronary Heart Disease.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2011;31:1208-1214.
7 Newbold HL. “Reducing the serum cholesterol level with a diet high in animal fat.” South Med J. 1988 Jan;81(1):61-3.
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.