Learn How to Control Cholesterol Naturally

Learn how to control cholesterol naturally by maintaining a healthy balance with vitamins, herbs and a great diet to help keep your arteries smooth and clear.

| November/December 2003

Learn how to control cholesterol naturally using these helpful health tips.

Learn How to Control Cholesterol Naturally

Think of atherosclerosis as sludge in the arteries. Because it can lead to heart attacks and strokes, this condition is the leading cause of death in Americans older than 45. For most people, atherosclerosis begins slowly and sneakily in childhood and progresses year by year. The process seems to begin with an injury to an artery’s lining. Factors that can harm this delicate lining include high blood pressure, tobacco byproducts and an amino acid called homocysteine, which is generated by the breakdown of protein.

Cholesterol and other fats become trapped at the damaged site. When these fats accumulate, they become oxidized. (Oxidation is the same process that has butter go rancid and iron turn to rust.) These rancid blood fats are taken up by smooth muscle cells just beneath an artery’s inner lining. An assortment of cells migrate toward the site, hang about and generally cause trouble. This microscopic mob scene represents a plaque.

The problem with arterial plaques is that they impede blood flow. They also can break free and lodge in sometimes fatally inconvenient places, such as the arteries that would otherwise deliver blood to your brain or heart. When this happens, you end up with a stroke or a heart attack.

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol itself is not evil. Our livers manufacture cholesterol — whether or not we eat any — because our bodies need it to maintain healthy cells and to make hormones. Most of us, aside from strict vegetarians, eat a good deal of the stuff by way of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.

Cholesterol is shuttled within the body by lipoproteins (carriers made of fat plus protein). LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) transports cholesterol to the tissues. This is the type of cholesterol you want to lower. HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) transports cholesterol to the liver, where it is metabolized and excreted into the intestinal tract.

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