Cholesterol is an organic chemical substance resembling a waxy fat which is manufactured by our body's cells, but predominantly made in our liver. It is an essential component of cell membranes and is also important in the formation of male and female hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D.
Although cholesterol is a vital component in our diet, our bodies produce sufficient amounts of cholesterol without having to consume any animal products. This can be accomplished by any type of food, even plant-based foods. "As long as the food contains carbon - which carbohydrates, fats, and proteins all do - it provides the body with the building blocks to make its own cholesterol. Cholesterol is made out of the carbon that is recycled from the food you eat. High cholesterol is a serious health problem that affects about fifty million Americans. It's a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease."
But, We Need Cholesterol, Right?
According to the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, "Cholesterol is not needed in the diet at all, since the liver makes all the cholesterol that the body needs. The optimal amount of cholesterol in the diet is zero. Most Americans consume 500 to 600 milligrams of cholesterol each day."
Can Diet Change High Cholesterol Levels?
Elevated cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), which is one of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, kills over one million people every year. That's the bad news, the good news is that a plant-based diet can reverse high cholesterol just as well and even better than using statin medications. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing one out of every three people. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn mentions in this book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, that heart disease "can be prevented, reversed, and even abolished." He goes on to say that "Conventional cardiology has failed patients by developing treatments that focus only on the symptoms of heart disease, not the cause." Using plant-based nutrition, Dr. Esselstyn conducted a 20-year nutritional study which involved arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients and published the results in 1995. After just a few short months, the cholesterol levels of the participants dramatically improved. This study presented "irrefutable scientific evidence, how we can end the heart disease epidemic in this country forever by changing what we eat." The aggressive nutritional approach that Dr. Esselstyn used for his research group dropped total cholesterol levels from 246 milligrams per deciliter to 137 mg/dL. This is the most dramatic drop in cholesterol that has ever been recorded in medical literature in this type of study. Dr. Esselstyn emphatically contends that, "A plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent and stop the progression of heart disease, but also reverse its effects."
Can't Drugs Improve Cholesterol Levels?
Dr. Joel Fuhrman uses a nutrient-dense, vegetable based plan to reverse heart disease and lower cholesterol in his patients. According to Dr. Fuhrman, "A high nutrient diet is by far the most effective method of reducing cholesterol while avoiding side effects. Compare the effects of various 6-week dietary interventions on cholesterol levels published in medical journals: After just six weeks of following a high nutrient diet, subjects' LDL cholesterol decreased by 33%. No other dietary intervention was nearly as effective. Drugs are not as effective for reducing cholesterol as a high nutrient diet. After six weeks of taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications, cholesterol levels decreased by 26% compared to a 33% with a high nutrient diet. Statins have many side effects and are associated with liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, cataracts, diabetes, and impaired muscle function. Furthermore, not only will a high nutrient diet lower cholesterol, it will also decrease heart disease risk by improving other factors such glucose levels, blood pressure, and body weight."
Will a Starch-Smart Diet Improve Cholesterol Levels?
The starch-based nutritional approach that Dr. John McDougall has used for 30+ years in his medical practice, also demonstrates similar results. He concludes, "You can expect a 30 mg (1.1 IU) reduction in your cholesterol level in 2 weeks, beginning with an average cholesterol of 220 mg/dl (5.79 IU). The higher the initial cholesterol level, the greater the reduction experienced on average." Therefore, a patient eating Dr. McDougall's starch-centered diet can "expect a reduction in cholesterol by 20% to 45% with strict adherence."
Evidence as shown above, confirms that an aggressive dietary approach of plant-based nutrition is the safest and most effective way in lowering elevated cholesterol levels without the side effects associated with the use of statin drugs.
Additional Resourses (videos):
Preview the "Ask the Doc!" Trailer
Your Questions Answered: In Dr. Carney's Starch-Smart® System seminars, written questions from participants are collected beforehand, protecting their privacy. In this informative video presentation, Dr. Carney shares the answer to many of those frequently asked questions - with complex scientific evidence made easy to understand. Learn the answers to what you've always wanted to ask, and so much more!