Cholesterol has come under fire in the recent years, so much so that Amercians are being prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs at an alarming rate.
In fact, in 1994, 2% Americans aged 45 and older were taking statins. In 2011, it had risen to 25% (1). Most of these people are prescribed statins as a prevention measure against cardiovascular disease.
However, the Huffington post reports that a recent scientific review of 14 studies shows that statins are virtually useless for primary prevention.
The analysis, published by The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed studies involving a total of 34,000 people.
They found that the studies over-reported positive results and under-reported negative ones. Some of patients were also already suffering from cardiovascular disease, and since most positive results occur in people with CDV, this provided false positives in the drugs preventive capabilities.
The meta-analysis also criticized the terrible side effects and steep financial cost of the drug.
What Do Statins Do?
Statins work by blocking substance your liver needs to make cholesterol. The drugs also help your body reabsorb plaque stuck inside your arteries to prevent heart attack (2).
Why Are They Bad?
Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body, particularly in your brain. In fact, your liver produces cholesterol to keep you healthy.
HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). When their delicate balance is out of whack, particularly if LDL levels get too high, heart disease can occur.
On the other hand, HDL helps your body produce hormones, vitamin D and bile. It also forms cell membranes, facilitates communication between cells and is crucial for the growth and maintenance of the brain (3). HLD cholesterol also helps clear LDL cholesterol from your arteries (4).
Statins doesn’t just affect LDL cholesterol, it also prevents the liver from producing HDL cholesterol. This prevents HDL from conducting all the important tasks mentioned above.
Another reason why this drug causes so many different problems is because it blocks a cholesterol-creating enzyme that is needed to make coenzyme Q10. This biochemical sparkplug and antioxidant is found in every cell, especially the heart where it protects and nourishes mitochondria, tiny structures that produce energy.
Common side effects of the drug include (5,6):
- Liver damage
- Memory loss and confusion
- High blood sugar and diabetes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Flushing of the skin
- Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Bloating or gas
- Muscle and kidney damage
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Cancer (7)
- Increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (8)
The True Causes Of Cardiovascular Disease
Believe it or not, sugar actually causes heart disease. When the liver metabolizes sugar, it stores glycogen for a quick energy source to keep your body going. When you eat too much sugar, the glucose is transformed into lipids which remain in your bloodstream as cholesterol and triglycerides. When overwhelmed with fructose, the liver begins to store fat, causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Other common causes include (9):
- Heart disease risk factors
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history of heart disease
- Not exercising
- Poor stress and anger management
- Older age
- Narrowing of the arteries (peripheral artery disease)
Natural Ways To Lower Bad Cholesterol
There are many nutrient-rich foods that can help your manage your cholesterol levels while feeding your heart.
1. Eat avocados every day
Avocados lower LDL cholesterol without affecting triglyceride and HLD levels (10).
The fruit also contains compound that relax your blood vessels, which is particularly helpful for people suffering from cardiovascular disease (11). While you’re at it, eat some on toast with a poached egg for a heart-healthy breakfast.
2. Spice It Up With Lemongrass
A study by the University of Wisconsin found that lemongrass essential oil could lower serum cholesterol levels without negative side-effects (12).
3. Sprinkle Some Cinnamon
Cinnamon helps type-2 diabetics manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Scientist have found that just 1/4 teaspoon of true cinnamon is enough to lower triglycerides, blood sugar and LDL cholesterol by 7-27%, respectively (13).