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Natural substitutes for statins.

Byline: Mariam A. Alireza

Are you reluctant to start, or become dependent on, statins (cholesterol reducers) for the rest of your life? You are not alone in feeling this way. Fortunately, there are natural methods for preventing cholesterol build-up and lowering moderately elevated levels of total cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein (LDL). Such approaches require an unwavering resolution to adopt healthy lifestyles - balanced nutrition, regular activity, stress control, and nutrient supplementation. This seems like deja-vu, but wait till you read the following.

Recent American studies have found that elevated cholesterol is not the only indicator of heart attacks or disease. C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation indicator, and high homocysteine levels are the real suspects. Statins (Lipitor, Zicor) will not address these two problems. Just because they push cholesterol below 200 mg, which you think gives you allowance to indulge in fatty fried foods and sugar, they do not exempt you from heart attacks or strokes.

In order to prevent and reduce moderate cholesterol and homocysteine levels, plaque and CRP, you must consume enough soluble and insoluble fibers, plant sterols (soy), antioxidants (citrus bioflavonoids), specific nutrients, and essential fatty acids (fish, nuts, seeds, and their oils).

Bioflavonoids in citrus and other fruits (apple), whole vegetables (deep green, red, and orange), their juices, and antioxidants (garlic, grape seeds, ginger, turmeric) along with certain supplements (folic acid deficiency elevates homocysteine levels) are important to suppress inflammation, a cause of cholesterol build-up in arteries. Carotenoids in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and dark leafy greens also prevent inflammation-causing illnesses like dementia, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

B vitamins such as B3, B6, B12, and folic acid (leafy greens) improve heart condition by decreasing cholesterol, CRP, and homocysteine levels.

Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol), in nuts and seeds, not only reduces blood platelet aggregation and CRP, but also prevents cholesterol oxidation and plaque formation.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, another antioxidant, also acts against oxidation.

Coenzyme Q10 (100mg) should be included to strengthen heart muscle; statins tend to deplete the nutrient.

Essential fatty acids like omega-3 from coldwater fish (at least twice weekly), nuts (walnuts), seeds (flax), and their oils are required to inhibit inflammation, thin blood, stop clot formation, and raise high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) that helps remove LDL. A drizzle of virgin olive oil over your salad and an avocado slice also improve your heart health.

Fiber and phytosterols come from whole grains (oats), legumes, fruits, and vegetables (okra, aubergine, leafy greens). Sytrinol by Nature's Way or Cholestrinol by Sourceone (Google them on the Internet) is good natural cholesterol therapy. Their citrus flavonoids and palm tocotrienols seem to lower overall cholesterol by over 10 percent as well as triglycerides and LDL in a matter of 12 weeks, showing more benefits in long-term users.

Spices (turmeric and ginger) have anti-inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system. Cinnamon improves glucose uptake by mimicking insulin. Refined carbohydrates increase cholesterol and elevated blood insulin contributes to CRP.

While a nutritious balanced diet, consisting of whole foods, fish, nuts, their oils, olive oil, and fiber, is essential to control cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine levels, a fatty diet high in trans fats, fries, animal fat, sugar, and corn syrup can damage the vascular system and lead to inflammation, cholesterol, plaque, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's. When such disorders occur, not even statins, invasive procedures, or surgery could reverse damage.

To lower cholesterol, prevent disease, control weight, and maintain health, you are strongly advised to introduce a thirty-minute aerobic activity like brisk walking, swimming, running, or cycling a minimum of five times weekly. Exercise comes with many health benefits, manages stress, boosts immunity and mood, and provides brain empowerment.

Stress is a leading cause of many modern illnesses. Circulating stress hormones can inflict tremendous harm on the whole body, resulting in diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Therapeutic exercises like yoga and Tai chi, meditation and prayer, and massage therapies can control stress damage and leave positive effects.

With advanced heart conditions requiring drug therapy or invasive procedures, you are strongly advised to follow your doctor's recommendations along with healthy lifestyles.

However, if you are a pre-condition (total cholesterol less than 240) and still undecided, do consider natural cures and embrace healthy lifestyles. You will feel better, healthier, more energetic, and less burdened by disease or medication. Start now before damage occurs and it is too late!

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Dec 20, 2008
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