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Measure Your LDL Particle Number, Not Total Cholesterol, to Gauge Heart Disease Risk
Could it be that all of this focus on lowering cholesterol levels has missed the boat entirely? Certainly, because cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. Your body NEEDS cholesterol -- it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.
If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. One of the most important tests you can get to determine your real heart disease risk is the NMR LipoProfile, which measures your LDL particle number. This test also has other markers that can help determine if you have insulin resistance, which is a primary cause of elevated LDL particle number and increased heart disease risk.
The NMR LipoProfile test easy to get and all major labs offer it, including LabCorp and Quest. Most insurance policies cover the test as well. Best of all, even if your doctor were to refuse to order it, you can order it yourself via third-party intermediaries like Direct Labs, or you can order the test online, and get blood drawn locally. Two other ratios you should pay attention to:
HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.
Four Additional Risk Factors for Heart Disease
You’ll notice that none of these involve your cholesterol levels …
Your fasting insulin level: Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes fat and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight, and excess fat, particularly around your belly, this is one of the major contributors to heart disease.
Your fasting insulin level can be determined by a simple, inexpensive blood test. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. If your insulin level is higher than 3 to 5, the most effective way to optimize it is to reduce or eliminate all forms of dietary sugar, particularly fructose, from your diet.
Your fasting blood sugar level: Studies have shown that people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100-125 mg/dl had a nearly 300 percent higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl.
Your waist circumference: Visceral fat, the type of fat that collects around your internal organs, is a well-recognized risk factor for heart disease. The simplest way to evaluate your risk here is by simply measuring your waist circumference. For further instructions, please see my previous article, Your Waist Size Can Be a Powerful Predictor of Hypertension and Other Chronic Diseases.
Your iron level: Iron can be a very potent cause of oxidative stress, so if you have excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml. The simplest way to lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively eliminate the excess iron from your body.
Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attacks Better Than Statins
According to Dr. Barbara Roberts, author of The Truth About Statins, studies haven’t shown that statins are beneficial for women who do not have heart disease, even if they have risk factors like obesity or family history.5 Yet, a recent study found heart attacks were reduced by 30 percent among people eating a Mediterranean diet!6
The healthy eating proved to be just as beneficial, if not more so, than statin drugs claim to be. While I don’t recommend a Mediterranean diet, per se, a healthy diet, like the one described in my nutrition plan, is the cornerstone of any heart-protection “plan.” If you want to protect your heart health, I recommend reducing, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars (including fructose) in your diet, replacing them with mostly whole, fresh vegetable carbs and healthy fats. Also try to consume a good portion of your food raw. Examples of healthy fats include:
Olives and olive oil Coconut and coconut oil Organic raw dairy products Avocados
Raw organic nuts Seeds Pastured eggs (raw, or lightly cooked with yolks intact) Organic, grass-fed meats.
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