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How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet

My current whole-food plant-based diet (WFPB diet) started because I had high cholesterol and my doctors had for several years urged me to start taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs called "statins".

I have always wanted to avoid taking medications for things that I had heard others had resolved by dietary choices, so I always resisted, made some minor modifications to my diet, and even became a "fishatarian" who also ate dairy and eggs. Although not eating meat did seem to put a ceiling on my total cholesterol numbers, they were still high, and gradually creeping higher.

We actually need cholesterol in our bodies. It's an important part of the cell walls that gives them permeability and fluidity. Since it is such an essential part of our cells, it should be no surprise that our bodies make cholesterol, but few people are completely aware of this, and that it is made in the liver.

The incidence of high cholesterol to the point that it causes vascular disease that leads to heart attacks, strokes, and dementia is not because the liver makes too much cholesterol, but rather that our modern diets contain the cholesterol of animals, and this on top of what the body already makes leads to an excess of cholesterol.

Many people aren't even completely sure which foods contain cholesterol and which don't. It's actually very easy: all animal protein and fat that we eat contains cholesterol, while not one plant that we eat contains even the smallest amount of cholesterol.

So if we have high cholesterol and wish to reduce it to normal levels, we must eat less animal-based foods and more plant foods. It's as simple as that. There's not getting around it. If you too want to take charge of your health by lowering your cholesterol without taking pills, then you must eat less animal proteins and fat, while eating more plant food. If you can, ideally you should consider adopting a diet that is totally whole-food plant-based, although you can no doubt significantly reduce your cholesterol to normal levels, and improve your overall health by coming close to that. Personally for me, I find it easier to slip back if I allow myself exceptions to the rule of eating a WFPB diet. Exceptions somehow have a habit of becoming the rule.

I can highly recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book "Eat to Live" to get a good understanding of what a healthy WFPB diet entails.

How do Statins Work and What Does It Mean to Take Statin Pills

Statins (Cholesterol-reducing drugs) work by suppressing the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for the production of the cholesterol essential for good cell health. If you choose to address your high cholesterol issue with drugs instead of diet modification, this is essentially the choice you are making:
Above all else, I value having a good cholesterol number. Since I choose to eat animal protein and fat that contains cholesterol, I choose to suppress my body's production of my own cholesterol and substitute it with cow cholesterol, and beef cholesterol, and pig cholesterol, and the cholesterol of chickens and turkeys, and that of fish too. I will value the cholesterol of other animals above my own. 
Ask yourself why you would do that.

You can read a little more in depth about how I ultimately managed to reduce my cholesterol numbers by adopting the WFPB diet in my post How I Came to Adopt the Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet.

Read more about statins at Wikipedia

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