By Godwin Ihesie
Cholesterol is a white fatty substance (lipid) found to be present naturally in all the cells and tissues of the body, brain and nerves, skin, liver, etc. It is made in the liver and other cells in the body; also, it is found in some animal-based foods. Triglyceride is equally a kind of lipid present in the human blood. It is produced in the liver from starchy foods (carbohydrates).
Like other fats and oils (lipids), cholesterol and triglyceride does not dissolve in water. Cholesterol in particular is essential to life because it is used as the building blocks in the synthesis of many reproductive, growth and stress- relieving hormones, vitamin D, bile salt which the body uses to emulsify fats, etc. Cholesterol is important for the functions of the nerves, brains, skins, etc.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are transported to and from the cells by carrier-proteins called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are classified as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDH or “bad cholesterol”) and High Density Lipoprotein HDL or “good cholesterol.
The normal total cholesterol measured in the laboratory is defined as less than 200 mg/dL (milligram per deciliter) of blood. The levels ranging between 200 to 239 mg/dL is considered borderline. An elevated cholesterol level above 240mg/dl is considered to be high (hypercholesterolemia).
Elevated cholesterol in the blood promotes the medical conditions known as atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis (that is hardening or narrowing of the arteries). A harden or narrowed artery associated with hypercholesterolemia, together with hypertension, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, inactivity or lack of exercise, obesity, chronic stress, etc, are the main factors that leads to heart diseases (heart attack and sudden death, chest pain i.e., angina pectoris,), hypertension, stokes, peripheral vascular disease (blockage of circulation to the extremities – mainly the legs) and impotency in men.
Today, most health care providers carry out what is known as lipid profile which includes cholesterol (less than 200 mg/dL) and triglycerides (below 150 mg/dl), LDL (low density lipoprotein cholesterol between 130 and 160 mg/dl) HDL (high density lipoprotein cholesterol 40 and 60mg/dl) and they use the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol to predict those who might be at the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Elevated blood cholesterol is usually asymptomatic, that is, the body will show no signs or symptoms that will indicate hypercholesterolemia. It is therefore recommended that every adult over the age of 45 should check his or her lipid profiles annually. Usually, hypercholesterolemia is detected through a blood cholesterol screening test.
Studies have shown that the liver and other cells in the body produce about 75 percent of the cholesterol in the blood. The other 25 percent comes from our diet such as whole-fat dairy products (including milk and ice cream), poultry(egg yolk), processed cheese, fatty meat, beef, animal fats (lard) from pork, bacon, burgers, shrimp, fried vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils (e.g. margarine and butter), refined carbohydrates, white flour products, white sugar, foods low in fiber, caffeine-containing beverages, fizzy drinks, etc.
It is known that unhealthy eating habits, including the excessive consumption of the above-mentioned foods leads to hypercholesterolemia, especially the low density lipoprotein (LDL) i.e., “bad” cholesterol type.
Apart from the unwholesome dietary habits; there are other conditions that can increase the level of low density lipoproteins cholesterol in the body, e.g. smoking, excessive consumption of coffee and alcohol, intake of certain medications, stress, blood pressure, oral contraceptives, age and genetic predisposition, sedentary life style, inactivity or lack of exercise and obesity, thyroid problems, diabetes mellitus, some kidney problems and chronic stress.
The main focus of natural cholesterol lowering therapies is to keep the total cholesterol level, if possible, below 200 mg/dl; to keep the triglycerides level below 150mg/dl and to raise the HDL (“the good” cholesterol) above 60mg/dl – especially in those who are at a very high risk of developing heart disease and stroke. To achieve these;
(A) Patients with hypercholesterolemia – are advised to:
- Reduced their stress level to the barest minimum,
- Get plenty of aerobic exercises daily.
- Drink plenty of clean water.
- Shed excess body weight.
- Avoid all refined, tinned and processed foods, e.g. refined carbohydrates, white sugar, fizzy drinks, food that contain additives, (sweeteners, coloring agents, stabilizer), decaffeinated coffee and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and cigarette smoking.
- Eliminate all fatty foods, hydrogenated oils, (e.g. margarine), butter, fried foods, animal foods, including red meat, chicken with the skin, egg yolk as well as dairy products, including skimmed milk, cheese, etc.
(B) Cholesterol lowering foods are as follows:
– 100% whole grains (wheat, rice, corn, millet, guinea corn, acha, oats, cereals,).
– Fresh tree-ripen fruits: citrus fruits (grapefruits, oranges, lemon, lime, etc), pineapple, pawpaw, guava, apples, avocado pear, purple grapes, etc.
– Fresh vegetables: fluted pumpkins, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, onions, leek, garlic, greens, green and red peppers, tomatoes, garden eggs, spinach, water leaf, etc.
– Legumes, especially beans, soy beans, etc.
– Nuts and seeds.
– Oils: corn oil, sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, olive oil, cotton seed oil, virgin coconut oil, etc.
From our clinical experience garlic and lemon preparation has shown to be one of the most effective cholesterol-lowering remedies.
Peeled raw garlic = 1 tea cupful
Lemon juice = 1 bottle (0.75 liters).
(i) Blend the garlic with the lemon juice.
(ii) Pour this into a suitable container with an airtight lid and allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 7 days.
(iii) Filter the preparation through a fine sieve and store in a suitable bottle.
Dosage: Take two shots of this garlic and lemon juice mixture 3 to 4 times daily
For up to 30 days.
Garlic and lemon juice mixture lowers high blood cholesterol and decreases the viscosity of the blood.
Most of the cholesterol-lowering herbs is grouped under the following headings:
(i) Liver cleansing herbs: Phyllanthus, lemon grass, balsam pear (bitter melon), bitter leaf, dandelion leaves, turmeric, chicory tea, fluted pumpkin, basil leaves, onions and other sulphur containing vegetables.
(ii) Herbs with high antioxidant activities: Green tea, Red sorrel, Alfalfa, Turmeric, Parsley, Dandelion Leaves, Stinging nettle, Water crest, Wheat sprout, Wheat grass juice etc.
(iii) Blood thinning herbs: Garlic, Onions, Leek, Ginger, cinnamon, Cayenne, Black pepper, etc
At this juncture, it is important to note that, although too much of cholesterol (fats) in the body as we enumerated above is dangerous, however, an extreme low level of cholesterol in the blood may give rise to a severe alteration in the blood and brain chemistry. For example, many health care researchers believe that emotional disturbances, irritability, depression, the urge to commit suicides or crimes, hormonal imbalance, lowered immunity, etc, could be associated with cholesterol and fatty acid deficiencies.