Reduce your cholesterol & live longer and healthier
A lot of people don’t know that all cholesterol isn’t bad!.. I want to introduce you to HDL cholesterol – the good stuff! Think of ‘H’ standing for ‘healthy’ so you don’t get it mixed up with it’s counterpart LDL cholesterol which is that bad stuff – the kind of cholesterol that we want to lower! When LDL levels are raised in the body we’re more likely to get a buildup of plaque in our artery walls called atherosclerosis. Over time this causes narrowing of the arteries, increasing your blood pressure and potentially breaking off and blocking blood supply to the heart or brain… if you’re thinking you’re too young to think about cholesterol, you shouldn’t dismiss this as plaque build up due to cholesterol starts from a very early age!
When we are looking to optimise heart health to live longer and healthier, we want to work on lowering this LDL cholesterol and increasing our HDL cholesterol! The reason HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol is that it sort of absorbs the “bad” LDL cholesterol from our body and takes it to the liver, where it can be flushed out of the body, reducing risk of heart disease (as I mentioned above with high blood pressure and a buildup of plaque.
Interestingly, your body’s ability to increase HDL cholesterol can depend on your variation of the LIPC gene. 1 in 3 people carry the TT or CT variation of the LIPC gene and have an enhanced ability to increase healthy HDL cholesterol if they engage in regular physical activity. This means physical activity is even more important for these individuals to increase their good cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart disease!
Obviously exercise is great for everyone and we should all be partaking in regular exercise to reduce our risk of chronic disease however these particular individuals have an enhanced ability to gain more from exercise when it comes to increasing their HDL! Individuals who discover this information about themselves through eating The DNA Way are much more likely to partake in regular physical activity as they know how much more beneficial it is to them!
We also have fantastic insight into how optimising omega 3 and omega 6 in certain individuals can support a higher HDL concentration. If you have the CC or CT variant of the FADS1 gene you will want to reduce your intake of high omega 6 foods such as walnuts, tahini and sunflower oils and seeds and think about increasing your omega 3 intake with foods such as oily fish.
If you want to halt and even reverse plaque build up in your arteries and haven’t started eating The DNA Way you can still focus on improving a few things in your diet to improve your cholesterol:
- Focus on a diet low in saturated fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, visible animal fat)
- Eat a large variety of plants, including beans and lentils (Interestingly green, leafy vegetables have been shown in clinical trials to help to restore and rebuild healthy artery linings through increasing the number of protective ‘endothelial progenitor cells’)
- Regularly incorporating nuts into your day