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Lower Cholesterol with Plants and Porridge


I know this is a rather political topic, but I have never been one to shy away from pissing off the big peeps (remember Coke?). This may be hard to understand the first time you read it, as the idea that cholesterol is the villain waiting to strike us down with  heart disease is ingrained in the Statin Drug pushing world in which we live. I might as well just put it right on out there: cholesterol is not bad.

When has the body ever produced something arbitrarily without any reason? Believe it or not, the answer is never. We may be born with a predisposition to higher cholesterol or perhaps the rare condition called cholesteremia where the body  over produces it. For most of us however, cholesterol is not the disease but the symptom.

Now it is true that diets high in saturated fats from animal based foods aren't going to help anyone, but either are continuing to eat cholesterol containing foods while artificially lowering cholesterol levels with the devil in pill form, Statins. Only 15% of cholesterol comes directly from the foods we eat. The link to diet is that a poor diet may cause the body to produce more cholesterol and that cholesterol is only present in animal foods. Plants are naturally cholesterol free (think about that the next time you see a box of Vegetable Thins proclaiming that they are now cholesterol free. Were they made from cow's before?). Cholesterol is manufactured in each and every cell of the body, produced directly in response to the need for it.  What? The body needs cholesterol? Yepper skipper.

Let's take a holistic view shall we.

The Basics

  • Excess sugars & fats, especially those found in processed fats result in higher cholesterol levels
  • Cholesterol is a contributing factors to cardiovascular disease, but not the cause of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream in complexes called ‘Lipoproteins’. Lipoproteins act as the transport vehicles for cholesterol.
    • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Known as the ‘bad cholesterol’, carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells of the body.
    • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Known as the ‘good cholesterol’ carries cholesterol from the cells of the body to the liver where it mixes with bile and is eliminated as waste.

What causes cholesterol levels to rise?

  • A primary role of cholesterol in the body is to act as a barrier in the cell wall. Cholesterol helps dictate what will be let into the cell and what will be released from the cell- the cells’ defense system
  • An increase in toxins from processed foods, chemicals, prescription medications, or environmental toxins enter the system and begin to circulate. With higher levels of toxins, cholesterol levels will increase as a means of protecting the DNA goodness inside the cells.
  • Additional causes of elevated cholesterol levels include mental or physical stress or trauma,  as well as stress derived from internal sources such as an inflammatory condition or surgery.

The Oodles of Roles Cholesterol Plays in The Body

  • Cholesterol makes cells waterproof to help protect the cell from toxins
  • Cholesterol is nature’s repair substance, used to repair wounds, including tears and irritations in the arteries.
  • Many important hormones are made from cholesterol, including hormones that regulate mineral metabolism and blood sugar, hormones that help us deal with stress, and all the sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
  • Cholesterol is vital to the function of the brain and nervous system.
  • Cholesterol protects us against depression; it plays a role in the utilization of serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” chemical.
  • The bile salts, needed for the digestion of fats are made from cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D, which is formed by the action of ultraviolet (UV-B) light on cholesterol in the skin.
  • Cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against free-radicals and therefore against cancer.
  • Cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol, helps fight against infection.

Look at that! If we were to artificially lower our cholesterol levels you know what would happen? Our cells let in more toxins and we become more predisposed to cancer, we have poor wound healing, we end up with low levels of sex hormones and wind up on hormone replacement therapy or Viagra, we get depressed and end up on antidepressants, we don't have the bile to break down the fat in our diet and are therefore unable to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, our skin gets rashy out in the sun and we become more susceptible to disease and infections.

How is cholesterol related to heart disease?

  • Circulating free radicals, the result of ingestion or inhalation of toxic substances results in damage to arterial walls.
  • The body uses cholesterol to smooth surface or fill the hole caused by the free radicals.
  • Sticky fats, such as those found in fried foods and fatty animal proteins will stick to the cholesterol that was put in place to repair the free radical damage.
  • This causes a narrowing in the passageway where blood needs to flow through the arteries.
  • The best way to prevent heart disease relating to cholesterol is to increase  intake of antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc). These help protect the body from free radical damage, thus reducing the need for cholesterol deposits in the arteries.

How can cholesterol be lowered naturally?

  • Soluble fibre is critical in lowering cholesterol levels naturally. In the large intestine, soluble fibre will bind to the cholesterol contained in bile and aid in eliminating it from the body. Without sufficient soluble fibre, 94% of cholesterol will be reabsorbed, this raising overall levels.
  • Foods rich in soluble fibre: fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, lentils, peas, soymilk and soy products.
  • Increase antioxidant intake to reduce the body’s cholesterol production. Antioxidants, specifically vitamin C from fruits and vegetables help prevent free radical damage and reduce the body’s production of cholesterol. Lack of Vitamin C results in weakened tissues and arteries.
  • Reduce consumption of meat - vegetarian diets have lower risk of CVD, due to higher fibre and antioxidant consumption
  • Avoid processed foods as they are low in fibre and high in oxidized fats
  • Avoid deep fried foods as high temperatures oxidize fats and form free radicals
  • Oats are a cholesterol lowering superfood: Oats, via their high fiber content, are known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. As well they contain a unique antioxidant/phytonutrient called avenanthramides that helps prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ready for your bowl of oatmeal yet?

Super Powered Porridge

1/4 cup rolled oats (or whole grain of choice. Note that even if you are gluten-free, certified gluten-free oats are available at some health food stores)
3/4 - 1 cup water (depending on how mushy you like your porridge)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs cacao
2 Tbs flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or rice bran
1 Tbs gogi berries
stevia to taste
1 tsp spirulina (optional)
1 Tbs Maca (optional)
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
Sprinkle of walnuts (Optional)

  • Bring whole grain, water and cinnamon to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer
  • While porridge is cooking, grind together cacao, seeds of choice, gogi berries, stevia and optional maca and spirulina
  • Pour ground super powered foods into a bowl and add cooked grain. Stir together. May need to add additional water until desired consistency is achieved.

34 Responses to “Lower Cholesterol with Plants and Porridge”

  1. Lauren said…
    I am in need of a good warm bowl of oatmeal now! :) I tried gluten free alternatives, but nothing matches oats. I am going to seek out some gluten free oats. Thanks for all the cholestrol info, my husband just had blood work and his is high (he went vegetarian in Jan, has been eating to much cheeeeese!). Now he just started eating fish and chicken. I sent him along all the info you have here. Thanks!
  2. Ashley said…
    After watching this video last night on youtube, I woke up craving oats! I need to pick me up some more superfoods to include! I love the method you employed for cooking your oats. Simple and easy and totally no excuse for the microwave in the morning. Lauren - Thanks to the Gluten Free Gidget blog, I discovered Cream Hill Estates certified gluten free oats (and she's actually doing a giveaway on her blog for them right now!) They are a Canadian company and the oats are just awesome!!
  3. celestial said…
    I am a fellow whole-foods-heaed-crohnie and I have been eating oats every morning for years! The keep me happy and make my world go round (my digestive world especially!). I usually eat mine with hemp, raisins, apples(chopped an cooked in the pot!) and cinnamon. I cant imagine my life without oats.... thanks for the vid!
  4. Vanessa said…
    "When has the body ever produced something arbitrarily without any reason?" Answer: The appendix. We have a sack of poison in our bodies for no reason whatsoever, at least not that I know of. Still, I'm happy to keep my cholesterol and eat lots of oatmeal.
  5. The appendix plays a MAJOR role in the happy functioning of the immune system, primarily in the production of B-lymphocytes. When the appendix ruptures or needs to be removed, that individual will have to work extra hard and make sure the rest of the lymph glands (mainly in the arm pits, neck, tonsils, and groin area) are kept extra super healthy. A little rebounding always helps. "Among adult humans, the appendix is now thought to be involved primarily in immune functions. Lymphoid tissue begins to accumulate in the appendix shortly after birth and reaches a peak between the second and third decades of life, decreasing rapidly thereafter and practically disappearing after the age of 60. During the early years of development, however, the appendix has been shown to function as a lymphoid organ, assisting with the maturation of B lymphocytes (one variety of white blood cell) and in the production of the class of antibodies known as immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies. "
  6. Jeanne Grunert said…
    I did not know that cholesterol fights against infection. I went through a terrible time a few years ago when my thyroid went nuts, swinging from hyperthyroid to hypo and back again. The doc thought it was an immune response to some infectious trigger. Low and behold, my cholesterol - especially the LDL's - which had always been considered good to normal, went through the roof. How fascinating to know that my body was producing something to HELP me and not some dreaded thing to "cure" with expensive drugs. And thank God I have been able to keep myself healthy through natural methods. Your blog is great. Keep it up!
  7. Loren said…
    I'm always learning something from this blog! Question - Where can I find rice bran? I haven't been able to find it. I live in Toronto, in the west end, but work in midtown. Any suggestions? Is there a particular type of rice bran (once I find it!) that I should buy? Thanks as always!
  8. Leesie said…
    I'm gonna soak my grains first though ;)...I can't wait to try this 'recipe', as I have most of the ingredients! :)
  9. nikki said…
    Yay! I have all these yummy ingredients, less the gogi berries. Horrible confession - I detest gogi berries. There I said it. *Hangs head in shame and hides*
  10. Leesie said…
    Uh oh, I never tried gogi berries before - a bag has been sitting in my pantry and I have yet to taste them...thanks for the heads up gals.

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