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23July2019

Intimacy4us

The truth about cholesterol!

When last did you enjoy a fried egg without feeling guilty about your cholesterol? Guess what? Not everything that we believe about cholesterol is the truth – there are just as many myths as there are facts!

Ever since the 60’s, the medical community developed an obsession over cholesterol as a result of the discovery that it can cause heart disease. Doctors are quick to prescribe cholesterol lowering medication to patients and health conscious food manufacturers go out of their way to accentuate the fact that their products are cholesterol free. But what is actually going on? To understand the myths regarding cholesterol, let’s start at the beginning.

Flawed findings
The link between cholesterol and heart disease was the result of several faulty experiments in the early 1950’s. A Russian Researcher, David Kritchevsky, fed rabbits with cholesterol and discovered that it caused arterial blockages, similar to those that caused heart disease. Unlike humans, rabbits do not possess the internal mechanisms to process cholesterol, as they are made to only feed on plant material. Of course the poor things would get ill! But this piece of logic seemed to just fly past people and led to a series of faulty experiments. And so the myths about cholesterol and heart disease were born.

But why does cholesterol-medication help with heart disease?
It is actually very simple: Heart disease is fuelled by inflammation. Cholesterol lowering medication (also known as Statins) consists of weak anti-inflammatory substances – thus it helps to fight-off heart disease. There are, however, safer and more natural ways of beating heart disease while also keeping your cholesterol levels in-check.

So, what exactly is cholesterol?
Believe it or not, but cholesterol is actually the good guy. The body produces its own cholesterol, but also needs to get it in the form of food.

Cholesterol is an important, natural substance in the human body that we use for:

  • The development of hormones that combat stress.
  • Keeping cell membranes efficient and healthy.
  • Brain function and development.
  • A healthy immune system.
  • The development of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and adrenaline.

Cholesterol is the body’s own version of duct tape. It moves to areas where there is arterial damage and patches it up – High levels of cholesterol can be an indication that “something is wrong” and your body needs to produce more cholesterol to work against this “something” – for example high levels of insulin/glucose. To classify cholesterol as the villain, is the same as blaming a fireman for a fire.

What are the dangers of high cholesterol?
As with everything in life, too much of a good thing can lead to problems. It is necessary to keep cholesterol levels in balance to lower the chances of erectile dysfunction, a heart attack or stroke.

What causes high cholesterol levels?

  • Poor food choices – food with a high content of saturated fat, trans-fats and cholesterol.
  • Not enough exercise and being overweight – it is not healthy to be a couch potato.
  • Genetics – cholesterol problems can be carried over to future generations.
  • Age – the chances of high cholesterol increases after the age of 20.

What can I do to control my cholesterol levels?

  • Remember that erectile dysfunction can be caused by high cholesterol levels, which is why moderate exercise helps to actively fight the condition. Even if you just take a walk around the block, it’s already a good starting point.
  • Eat more fish and red meat. The website seaharvest.co.za has divine recipes for fish dishes.
  • Choose dairy products with a low fat content, for example fat free milk and low fat yoghurt.
  • Consume enough fibre – what about a bowl of muesli for breakfast?
  • When using oil in your food, opt for a low saturated fat content. Canola and Olive oil is a better choice than palm- or coconut oil. Canola oil even has 8% less saturated fats than olive oil! Nataniël also recommends grape seed oil as a healthier alternative.
  • Prepare your food in a healthy manner – a non-stick pan for example requires very little oil. Or try the famous George Foreman Grill that quickly gets rid of oil when frying your food.
  • Leave the chocolate body paint and next time rather drip some mango juice over your wife’s body! Also snack on fresh fruit and vegetables as opposed to chips and biscuits – it is healthier and you consume fewer calories.
  • Don’t consume more than two glasses of alcoholic drinks per day – too much alcohol will anyway just hamper your performance in the bedroom.
  • Green Tea is a healthier alternative to juices or gassy drinks that are loaded with sugar. On top of that, it can help to minimise your chances of getting prostate cancer.

Have your cholesterol levels tested often. Your doctor can help with suggestions on how to keep your cholesterol in the role of the good guy.