CholesterolFor years we have heard dramatically negative comments regarding cholesterol and unfortunately, cholesterol is still controversial these days depending on which research you are investigating. To take some of the evil out of cholesterol, it is important to understand that cholesterol is imperative to maintaining optimal function of many biochemical processes in the body. Although, as with anything in life, too much and or little of anything is not ideal. We need to achieve balance.

Cholesterol is a steroid hormone and is a precursor to other hormone production such as cortisol, sex hormones including, testosterone and estrogen and aldosterone which helps regulate electrolyte balance and blood pressure. These hormones can become imbalanced as a result of too little cholesterol.

Cholesterol also provides structural integrity to every cell in our body, as it helps make up the lipid soluble membrane and mitochondria that are important in proper sugar regulation, proper cell to cell communication, energy production and many other biochemical processes. Without adequate cell membranes, our cells are not able to receive and send messages that are imperative to proper hormone balance including receiving insulin and preventing inflammatory signaling.

Some other functions of cholesterol include making bile acids, which in turn helps support our immune system by facilitating proper absorption of fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K.   Cholesterol is also needed for proper function of serotonin to help with mood regulation, nerve impulse transmission and memory.

Now that you know how important cholesterol is, it is important to address the fact that too much of a good thing may also cause harm. A few ways to achieve and maintain optimal cholesterol levels include: Eating a nutrient dense, low-glycemic or Mediterranean food plan that avoids processed foods. This does not mean unlimited pasta, cheese and wine. This means a colorful diet full of vegetables, fruits, responsibly raised meats(free range, organic, grass fed), healthy fats , nuts/seeds, and whole grains). A few of my favorite places to shop include: Texas Farmers Market, Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. You can also find acceptable prepared meals at places like Snap Kitchen .

Managing stress, and incorporating regular exercise, plus appropriate supplementation, including fish oil, Vitamin D3, and a MultiVitamin are all helpful tools to optimize your cholesterol. In addition, we are excited to announce a new medical food from Metagenics, UltraMeal Cardio 360. UltraMeal Cardio 360 can also help achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, along with proper nutrition, stress management and exercise.   You can purchase this and many other professional grade products through our on-line store or in our office.

All of the providers at Austin Family Medicine are here to answer questions and help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels from an individual stand point including review of genetic and environmental factors. Make your appointment today!

Heather Hanson, Nutritionist