Diet to Lower Cholesterol – Adding Protein May Be More Important than Avoiding Fat

Diets to lower cholesterol seldom get good results.

One of the most important problems in dieting to lower cholesterol is that the way most laboratories test blood for cholesterol, a low-calorie diet will appear (and only appear) to raise LDL cholesterol.

Medical laboratories measure total blood lipids, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. They don’t measure the other two components of blood lipids, VLDL and LDL, separately. They simply estimate VLDL as one-fifth of triglycerides, and call what’s left LDL.

The problem with this approach is that diet and exercise lower triglycerides. If your triglyceride number goes down, then the way the formula works, your LDL number will go up. Tens of millions of people who care enough about their health to eat right and work out are told, wrongly, that their efforts aren’t working. If you have an doctor who will take the time to order the right tests (assuming your doctor is aware of the limitations of testing), then diet and exercise might work. But there is another approach that most doctors and most nutrition experts won’t tell you about.

The nutritional ingredient in a cholesterol-fighting diet most experts don’t know is the amino acid taurine. This amino acid is, along with caffeine, one of the active ingredients in a popular energy drink known as Red Bull. You should not drink Red Bull for your health, but taurine is extremely important for preventing heart disease.

The way cholesterol forms clogs has less to do with cholesterol and more to do with the immune system. A piece of cholesterol gets stuck to the lining of an artery. White blood cells known as macrophages use cholesterol as fuel, so they come to the cholesterol to feed on it.

The problem is, if the blood vessel is so small that it traps cholesterol, it is also so small that it can trap the macrophage. The macrophage can live out its life span and die on the artery wall, and then more macrophages can come along to remove it. They also get trapped, and eventually a small amount of cholesterol and a large amount of immune system debris calcifies and creates an artery-clogging plaque.

Taurine stops inflammation and stops the migration of macrophages to artery walls, especially in the blood vessels serving the brain. At the same time, taurine activates LDL receptors in the liver, taking LDL out of circulation and reducing the amount of cholesterol that otherwise might get trapped to form plaques. Also, taurine, along with magnesium, can help lower blood pressure.

How can you get your taurine? A taurine supplement every day takes care of any variation in the taurine content in the food you eat. And you can also get your taurine from seafood or meat. If you are a vegan, you probably need a vegetarian taurine supplement.

Selected Reference:

Yamori Y, Taguchi T, Hamada A, Kunimasa K, Mori H, Mori M. Taurine in health and diseases: consistent evidence from experimental and epidemiological studies. J Biomed Sci. 2010 Aug 24;17 Suppl 1:S6. Review.