BY ENDURANCE NEWS STAFF
It’s no wonder why many people are confused about cholesterol because it's necessary for many aspects of human health while also being associated with several negative health consequences. For example, if we were to take a poll on cholesterol in general, we suspect that most people would lean more towards "negative" instead of "positive."
CHOLESTEROL POSITIVES – Among its numerous roles, cholesterol is essential for:
- The formation of all bodily steroid hormones
- Healthy brain function
- The myelin sheath that wraps around and protects neurons, which are primarily involved in transmitting information through electrical and chemical signals
- Providing antioxidant support
- Helping to counteract excessive stress
CHOLESTEROL NEGATIVES – Among other negative health consequences, excess cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of:
- Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries, which obstructs optimal blood flow.
- Hypertension (aka, high blood pressure).
- Gallstones are lumps of solid material that form in the gallbladder that can cause severe abdominal pain.
- Age-related macular degeneration, a disease that affects central vision, is the most common cause of severe loss of eyesight.
- Prostate cancer.
QUESTION: What increases cholesterol to excessive amounts?
ANSWER: While some cholesterol production, including excess amounts, is genetically inherited, the consumption of trans fat is clearly the main culprit. Unlike other types of fats, trans fats are not essential for life, and their consumption is not recommended. Trans fats can be found in nearly all processed foods, including fast food, snacks, fried food, and baked goods. Additionally, it is believed that people who consume high amounts of animal-sourced saturated fats, with minimal amounts of plant foods, have higher cholesterol than those whose diet contains ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.
How to significantly lower cholesterol… by up to 30%!
1) Diet first. The most important thing is addressing the diet and correcting dietary errors, primarily excess intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Oxidized blood cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular health disease, and excess linoleic acid (LA) causes cholesterol to oxidize. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid, and while it is necessary for human health, excess amounts are associated with numerous health disorders, including the earlier-mentioned oxidized blood cholesterol. Conversely, omega-3 fatty acids— EPA and DHA, found in fish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant sources—are associated with a number of health benefits. The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 4:1; however, most people's diets contain an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1 (or higher), much higher than what people are genetically adapted to, and a ratio that is hugely responsible for excessively high cholesterol amounts.
The primary culprit for the omega-6 excess? Increased use and consumption of industrially processed seed oils referred to as vegetable oils. An expert on the subject, Dr. Chris Knobbe, states that these industrially processed seed oils “drive the oxidation. They’re pro-oxidative, proinflammatory, and toxic, but of all of these, it is oxidation. That is by far the worst.”
Cardiovascular research scientist, Dr. James DiNicolantonio, agrees and refers to these omega-6 seed oils as “drivers of coronary heart disease.” He summarizes:
Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid consumption has dramatically increased in the western world, primarily vegetable oils. Numerous evidence shows that omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid promotes oxidative stress, oxidized LDL [the "bad" cholesterol], chronic low-grade inflammation, and atherosclerosis. In addition, omega-6 is likely a primary dietary culprit for causing CHD (Coronary Heart Disease), especially when consumed as industrial seed oils, commonly referred to as vegetable oils.
To reestablish the proper balance of omega-6's to omega-3's—helping to protect against serious health outcomes and return us to a much healthier state—we need to greatly reduce or eliminate the consumption of the following oils:
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Rice bran oil
- Safflower oil
- Soy oil
- Sunflower oil
It’s important to remember that most-to-all these highly processed seed oils are found not only in oil form but in processed/fast foods as well, so we also need to strive to eliminate them from our diet. As Dr. Catherine Shanahan states, "More than any other ingredient, vegetable oil is what puts the ‘junk’ in junk food.”
2) Consistent exercise. Master athletes are reported to have lipid profiles similar to young adults, decreasing their risk of heart disease. One study compared the effects of exercise between 61 master athletes and 51 overweight, sedentary men. The results:
- Plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, the “good” cholesterol) concentrations were 42% higher in the master athletes than in the overweight, sedentary men.
- Triglyceride (TG) concentrations were 51% lower in the master athletes than in the overweight, sedentary men.
- Plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the “bad” cholesterol) levels were 9% lower in the athletes than in the overweight, sedentary men.
Additionally, the American College of Sports Medicine conclusively states:
Endurance training can help maintain and improve various aspects of cardiovascular function and enhance submaximal performance. Importantly, reductions in risk factors associated with disease states (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) improve health status and contribute to an increase in life expectancy.
3) Nutritional supplements. A number of nutrients/substances are reported to help lower elevated cholesterol levels. These include:
- Coenzyme Q10 and Trimethylglycine – Race Caps Supreme
- Acetyl-l-carnitine – Mito Caps
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) – Enduromega
- Bifidobacteria longum and Lactobacillus acidophilus – Digest Caps
- Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and C, and the minerals magnesium and chromium – Premium Insurance Caps
- Vitamin C – Endurance C
- Magnesium – Essential Mg, Premium Insurance Caps, Endurolytes products, HEED, Recoverite
- Chromium – Chromemate, Premium Insurance Caps, HEED, Sustained Energy, Perpetuem, Recoverite
- Soy – Soy Protein, Sustained Energy, Perpetuem
- Gamma-Tocopherols and Tocotrienols – AO Booster
The combination of consistent exercise, optimal diet choices, and supplementation may reduce cholesterol levels anywhere from 8% to as much as 30%. In addition, a plant food-dominant diet added to regular exercise has been demonstrated to lower elevated cholesterol significantly. Nutrients in specific Hammer Nutrition products also help lower elevated cholesterol levels.
You list peanut oil as bad. Dr. Shanahan, who you quote, lists it as a good oil. She lists refined peanut oil as iffy. Can you clarify or offer a citation? Thanks.
By the way, I’ve eliminated these oils from my diet as well as almost all sugar and have experienced amazing improvements.
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hi Chris, Thank you for your comment, question and feedback on the results you are enjoying! My take is organic peanut oil is ok in moderation, but so many better options, not really needed. Non organic to be avoided due to pesticide load. BDF
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Peanut oil is not the worst oil in the bunch, but it still has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 32:1. With the goal of getting back to a 4:1 ratio of O-6 to O-3, and with their being better choices (as you appropriately stated), this one would be on the “not ideal for consumption” or “use sparingly” list. Based on the list from the link below, avocado oil appears to be at or near the top of the list for cooking… 12:1 O-6 to O-3 (not too bad) and with the highest smoke point (520F) – Steve Born
We have experienced the value of your Hammer Nutrition products. I would like to have Premium Insurance caps formulated so the daily dose is 2 caps instead of 7 caps a day….too many pills.
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hi Chris, Thank you for your kind comment. Good news is, your wish has already been granted! I recalibrated the daily dose of Premium Insurance caps to 4 capsules daily many years ago, because the dose was higher than most clients needed. That’s when we introduced the 120 count, 30 day supply (would be 60 day supply in your case). We still make the big 210 capsule bottle for those who train more than 15 hours per week and want the original ODA based 7 capsule daily formula. More importantly, the beauty of PIC’s is that every one of the 54 ingredients is proportionate in each capsule, so you can decide your own daily dose based on diet quality, training volume, travel, stress and other factors. My kids started taking one capsule per day when they were 5 or 6. BDF
Seems like you almost have to add eating out to the processed foods “bad” list as it is so difficult to eat healthy especially when traveling. Case in point I got Chipotle take out the other night and the bag touted how great their ingredients are. Then I noticed Canola oil on there and could almost feel my blood flow restricting……..
I love using Hammer products! That said…I would like to have an essential “kit” that has the foundational supplements hammer offers. my head swims at all the options, with each make a compelling argument to add to my daily intake. But (1) I would rattle like a maraca, (2) would have to take out a second mortgage!
can you simplify this for me? I understand each person has their own needs but the underlying message from every supplement description make it seem like you need to add this to your daily intake!
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Keith, Thank you for your comment. We do have exactly the kit you suggest and we call it the Daily Essentials Kit, consisting of Race Caps Supreme, Premium Insurance Caps and Mito Caps – these three products supply good amounts of most of what is recommended in this article. A 90 day supply runs $250, or about $2.75 per day, or less than most people spend on coffee. Secondly, the hoped for key take away of this article is to encourage dietary changes to accomplish this goal. The supplements are supportive, but should not be purchased/used if the dietary deficiencies/changes are not fully addressed first. BDF
Good read. Actually enjoy all your reads on heart health. Now it’s how to stay away from oils.
Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Dina, Thank you for your comment. To be clear, canola should never be consumed if possible. Non organic seed oils like sunflower seed oils as well (pesticides). However, organic avocado and walnut for cooking and oganic olive oil for salad and other low heart uses is very much encouraged. Omega 3 fish oil is also very beneficial. BDF