Cholesterol

Cholesterol

When we talk about cholesterol, we have to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types. Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, is harmful because it carries cholesterol into the

Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, is harmful because it carries cholesterol into the blood stream, promoting the buildup of cholesterol plaque on the arterial walls.

High-density lipoprotein, HDL, is considered beneficial to the body. It helps remove cholesterol from blood vessel walls and the blood itself, bringing it to the liver for processing and excretion.

Hypercholesterolemia, or dyslipidemia, is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood, and it is one of the main factors contributing to the development of atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease (1).

According to a recent Canada-wide health survey, 45% of Canadian men and 43% of Canadian women have unhealthy total cholesterol levels.

Risk Factors

Current Canadian guidelines recommend that doctors test for high cholesterol levels for the following, high-risk groups:

  • Men over the age of 40
  • Women over the age of 50 or who have gone through menopause
  • Smokers
  • People with diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Those with a parent, brother or sister who had heart disease at an early age
  • Anyone with a BMI in the obesity range
  • Children with a family history of high cholesterol

It should come as no surprise that ‘bad cholesterol’ or LDL is not normally found in natural foods, nor produced in our bodies. It comes from processed foods, fried foods, fast foods. ‘Junk food’ is cluttering our bloodstream and wreaking havoc with our health.

Magnesium for Cholesterol Levels

Studies indicate that high levels of magnesium in the diet could be inversely related to diseases like hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The higher intake of magnesium can lead to a substantial decrease in blood triglycerides and an increase of HDL cholesterol levels (2).

Magnesium acts like a natural statin which helps block the specific enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) in the liver that produces cholesterol. When that enzyme is blocked cholesterol levels are lowered, but when magnesium levels are low cholesterol continues being produced leading to a risk of coronary hearth disease.

There is also evidence suggesting a relation between magnesium levels and obesity linked to high cholesterol levels. This mineral may have an antiobesity effect because of the way in which it interacts with fatty acids in the intestine, reducing the digestible energy content (think: calories) of the diet (3).

Magnesium-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables help to reduce body weight and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Sources

1. Magnesium dietary intake modulates blood lipid levels and atherogenesis. BELLA T. ALTURA, MANFRED BRUST, SHERMAN BLOOM, RANDALL L. BARBOUR, JEROME G. STEMPAK, AND BURTON M. ALTURA. March de 1990, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, Vol. 87, págs. 1840-1844.

2. Low magnesium and atherosclerosis: an evidence-based link. Maier, Jeanette A.M. 2003, Molecular Aspects of Medicine, Vol. 24, págs. 137-146.

3. Magnesium Intake and Incidence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Young Adults. Ka He, Kiang Liu, Martha L. Daviglus, Steven J. Morris, Catherine M. Loria, Linda Van Horn, David R. Jacobs and Peter J. Savage. 2006, Circulation, Vol. 113, págs. 167-1682.