What causes cholesterol to increase?

Heart and blood vessel diseases, such as angina and hypertension and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypoglycemia, and many other ailments are recognized as sedentary lifestyle diseases in those who consume a rich and unwholesome diet. 

The diet in technologically advanced countries has an average fat content of 30-50% of the calories consumed.  It is also very high in refined carbohydrates. 

An especially damaging food combination is refined fats and refined sugars.  Investigators have found that in poorer countries where the people eat 20% or less of total calories in fat, where the diet consists mainly of unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, these diseases are almost never found. 

The more fat and refined carbohydrates eaten, the more degenerative disease found.

The use of diets high in soluble fibres (oat bran and beans) will lower cholesterol significantly.  Insoluble fibre (wheat bran) is not so effective.  Extra water, at least two eight-ounce glasses a day, should also be taken with the soluble dietary fibre, as that will increase the effectiveness of the fibre.  If gas or flatulence is a problem from the extra fibre, the use of digestive enzymes such as papaya, bromelain, etc. can be very helpful.—American Family Physician. 51:419; 1995.

Certain prescription drugs such as Dilantin (used for seizures) can cause an increase in serum cholesterol which increases the risk of coronary heart disease.—British Medical Journal. 4:85, 1975.  Serum cholesterol levels were found to be 6-48% higher during the first three months of treatment with Dilantin and remained high through the treatment period.  The mechanism for this increase is probably through damage to the liver.                                                                                   

Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis

In addition to the total fat contained in it, the animal muscle tissue of all kinds—beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, shellfish, etc., and especially organ tissue (liver, brains, kidneys, etc.) and eggs (chicken eggs, fish roe, etc.)—introduce still another harmful substance into our bodies—cholesterol. 

The excess stored cholesterol forms plaques inside the blood vessels, and, in time, these turn into ulcers or abscesses. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. In some countries, atherosclerosis is almost unknown and cholesterol levels run 60 to 90, whereas on our high animal food diet our cholesterol levels run 200 to 250 or more. The ideal for an American should probably run no more than around 100 plus the age. The heart attack rate is four times higher if the cholesterol is over 260 than if it is below 200. A mere 10% reduction in cholesterol reduces by 25% the likelihood of a heart attack.

On our usual high-fat refined diet, these plaques begin to form even in very young people, gradually building up over a period of time and narrowing the channels in the blood vessels.  This narrowing reduces the amount of blood flow to the tissues.  The heart compensates by elevating the blood pressure more and more, eventually producing high blood pressure.

Cholesterol and Slow Mental Processing

High cholesterol has long been blamed for heart disease and hardening of the arteries.  It is now recognized that it is possible that very low cholesterol levels are associated with slow mental processing.  Two hundred seventy-nine students were measured in relation to the speed and accuracy of making choices in tasks that were timed.  Female subjects with low plasma levels had slower movement times and slower decision times.  It may be that some factor associated with cholesterol may make women bolder or less cautious.  Additional studies have been planned.—Psychosomatic Medicine. 57:50, January 1995.

Difficulty concentrating and high serum cholesterol levels are two of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It may be that hypothyroidism is more undiagnosed than we have previously thought.  Other symptoms include fatigue, depression, cold extremities, dry skin, fluid retention, hair loss, constipation, infertility, menstrual irregularities, and poor resistance to infection.  Improving thyroid function can help remarkably with high cholesterol when low thyroid is a factor.  See our counselling sheets on how to improve the function of the thyroid.

Diet to Lower Cholesterol

If you are even ten pounds overweight you have a greater likelihood of getting high cholesterol.  The diet on page 3 will help you get the weight off.  Don’t keep any extra weight, as it can nullify an otherwise excellent program for some people.  Calculate 100 pounds for your first five feet, and for women five pounds per inch thereafter, six to seven pounds per inch for men, depending on how muscular he is.  Example: If you are a woman 5′ 5″ tall, you could weigh as much as 125, but no more unless your cholesterol and triglycerides are on the bottom.

Breakfast eaters have lower blood cholesterol than persons who do not eat breakfast.  It was found that children who consistently skipped breakfast had significantly higher blood cholesterol levels.  The national average for cholesterol in students ages 9 to 19 is 165!  Students who eat breakfast as a routine have cholesterol levels from 140-150.  Even this level is higher than ideal.  Those who regularly skip breakfast average about 172.  The study by Dr. Ken Resnicow was reported in USA Today, 3-18-1991.


The ideal for triglycerides is surely below 140, and probably below 100 is safer.  Many people can achieve an enviable triglyceride level around the same as their age.  The heart attack rate is two times higher if the triglyceride level is above 250 as compared to below 170.  Ninety per cent of overweight people have increased triglycerides.  Other causes of increased triglycerides are alcohol, sugar, the type of fats in dairy products and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white flour products, white pastries, and white starch.  Even large quantities of fruit juices or very sweet or dried fruits (dates, raisins, and figs) may increase triglycerides.

General Factors in High Blood Cholesterol

  • Smoking
  • Blood pressure elevation
  • Poor posture
  • Tension, noise, TV
  • Low vital capacity
  • Unstructured lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Overweight
  • Irregular schedule
  • Overwork
  • Underactive thyroid

Dietary Causes

  • Meat, milk, eggs, cheese
  • High fat
  • Sugar, refined foods
  • Salt
  • Coffee, tea, colas, chocolate
  • Alcohol

Lack of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B12
  • Fibre (especially whole grains)
  • Fruits and Vegetables (especially legumes)



Probably the single most widely beneficial thing, having great effectiveness in bringing the cholesterol down, is exercise.  Begin your program today.  Start with what you can easily do and build up both the length of time and the intensity of the exercise as your level of physical conditioning improves.

Exercise neutralizes tension.  Face squarely those things that trouble you and deal with each one dispassionately, patiently, and kindly.


Cholesterol can be helped by a number of herbs:  ginger root, hawthorn berry, myrrh, psyllium, and turmeric. 

Avoid These Foods:

  1. Sugar, syrup, honey, molasses
  2. Oil, margarine, shortening, peanut butter, other nut butter
  3. No animal products, including animal protein
  4. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  5. Strong spices and salt

Basic Daily Needs on a Therapeutic Diet:

FRUIT: Two or more servings. Note that the whole fruit has 6 to 10 times as much fibre as the juice.  Fibre attaches to cholesterol and takes it out of the body.

VEGETABLES: Two or more servings of green or yellow vegetables

LEGUMES:  One serving of beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils

CEREAL: Two or more servings of whole grains, varied from time to time

TUBERS: Use as needed in place of vegetables or grains, or to increase the total number of calories if needed.

NUTS AND SEEDS:  One ounce of any, roughly two tablespoons. Include flaxseeds every day. 

For more information contact: 

Silvia Rojas Reyes, 
N.D., M.M.P., Health & Life Coach
 (Lifestyle Medicine, Harvard)

Phone: 44- 756 24 25 749


“Healthy Lifestyle Matters in Prevention of Diseases”  SRR

Amazing Natural Medicine