People worry about cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol (85%) is made by our bodies. Only 15 percent comes from our diet. High levels of cholesterol are actually essential for brain and heart health (see my book). If you try to artificially lower your cholesterol, the liver will increase production. Cholesterol is an anti-oxidant which sweeps up toxins from the body in an effort to eliminate them. What is not normal or helpful is oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxidized LDL). Oxidized LDL is the cholesterol carrier bound to oxygen (think rust on a car). This can happen with too much hydrogenated vegetable oils (margarine, fried foods) and processed foods. And it also comes from chlorine and fluoride in the water, pesticides and other pollutants. Magnesium is also an antioxidant. High levels of magnesium can reduce the toxic load on cholesterol.

Statin drugs to reduce cholesterol have been around for 30 years. Drug industry papers say statins lower cholesterol, but independent researchers say they do not prolong life. Cardiologists are now pointing their finger at calcium rather than cholesterol. Coronary calcium scans using CT scanning can measure the degree of calcification in coronary arteries. But many doctors do not use it because there is no drug to dissolve calcium in coronary arteries. The medical community continues to use ineffective calcium channel blockers, statin drugs, and stents to treat heart disease.

Dr. Kilmer McCully in 1969 identified increased levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the urine of patients with heart disease. He found that this could be reversed with certain nutrients. Homocysteine is a by-product of protein digestion. If you don’t have enough magnesium and B vitamins to digest protein adequately, homocysteine can build up. This is one reason high protein diets can be dangerous for your heart. Nearly 40 percent of the population have high homocysteine levels in their blood (called hyperhomocysteinemia).

Experts explain that homocysteine “is high on the list of risk factors for heart disease and is a much stronger marker than cholesterol.” Unfortunately, it is not measured on the standard blood test panel for heart disease (probably because there is no drug to lower homocysteine!). Ongoing research confirms that plant-based vitamins B6, B12, and folate along with magnesium are necessary to prevent blood vessel damage indicated by high levels of homocysteine. However, magnesium is often missed in the treatment approach because the standard blood test does not see low levels in the body. Concerning heart disease, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

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