When it comes to cardiovascular disease risk, cardiologists only focus on the “fool’s gold” of cholesterol. (While big pharma gets the real gold from selling statin drugs.)
Yet study after study shows cholesterol is NOT the be-all, end-all of heart health. And lowering it certainly doesn’t lower your mortality risk. Plus, new research shows that focusing on levels of a different natural substance CAN slash your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease — or ANY cause — by a whopping 33 percent.
I’ll tell you more about this new breakthrough in just a moment. But first, let’s take a moment to clear up some of the persistent misconceptions about cholesterol.
For one, as I learned in my Biology 101 class, every cell in your body needs cholesterol. Especially your brain and nerve cells. And in the 1980s, when Americans tried to follow the government’s bad advice to reduce dietary cholesterol, they began eliminating some of the healthiest foods on the planet — including eggs and shellfish.
This dietary disaster did not achieve its intended purpose — lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. This diet craze failed because cholesterol in the food you eat DOESN’T affect the cholesterol levels in your blood. Not one iota. But the government, for decades, led us down that dead-end road.
Second, the science shows reducing blood cholesterol artificially with statin drugs doesn’t reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) events (such as heart attacks) or deaths — which should be the ultimate goal of any heart treatment.
On the flip side, many factors that your doctor doesn’t routinely measure, do impact heart health. Including your levels of:
- B vitamins: There are varying opinions on what constitutes “normal” B12 levels—I find it to range between 200 to 400 ng/L or higher.)
- vitamin D: A 25(OH)D test will measure the amount of vitamin D in your blood. Your levels should be in the 50-90 ng/ml range.
- homocysteine: A variety of studies show that homocysteine levels lower than 9 umol/L are optimal.
And now, we should add the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA to that list (which can also be found in fish oil supplements). I’ll touch on this a bit later.
Omega-3s levels are the optimal predictor of heart health
In a new study, researchers measured cholesterol levels as well as EPA and DHA levels in 2,500 men and women who were in the offspring cohort of the famous Framingham Heart Study. (This group is largely made up of the children of the original Framingham study participants, which began back in 1948.) The participants were 66 years of age and free of heart disease at the study’s outset.
The researchers followed the men and women for about seven years, until they reached the age of 73. At that point, the researchers analyzed death rates from any cause. They also tracked deaths from specific causes, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
First of all, they found that men and women with the highest omega-3 levels had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from any cause over those seven years as compared to those with the lowest levels.
Plus, more specifically, men and women with higher omega-3 levels had a lower risk of suffering both fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease events, including heart attack and stroke, over those seven years. This finding is especially meaningful, when you consider one out of every three deaths in the U.S. relates to a cardiovascular event.
Both of these factors suggest that EPA and DHA offer a much wider spectrum of benefits, beyond just reducing plaque build-up in arteries.
Of course, previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic conditions, as I often report. So, this study shouldn’t come as a total surprise.
But there was one finding from the study that did surprise the researchers…
Why cholesterol measurements are meaningless
The researchers said they expected that their study would “confirm” the importance of cholesterol levels in terms of heart disease events and deaths.
But they found nothing of the kind…
High cholesterol levels were not associated with higher mortality. And the converse was true too — low cholesterol did not equate to lower mortality. In fact, the study actually confirmed the complete lack of association between blood cholesterol and mortality.
Yet, amazingly, Dr. William Harris, the study’s lead author stated, “We all know that serum cholesterol level is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
Not on the basis of your own study, Dr. Harris. And certainly not on the basis of many other studies, as I have reported. (In fact, my newsletter subscribers can access my special report, “Deadly cholesterol myths—EXPOSED!” which debunks several common myths and provides permanent, drug-free solutions. Not a subscriber? No problem! Simply click here to get started.)
But Dr. Harris and his cronies just keep repeating the same, faulty party-line about the importance of cholesterol. Sort of sounds like a propaganda machine, doesn’t it?
A breakthrough rethinking of omega-3 dosages
Over the past few years, I’ve been recommending you take in 1,000 to 2,000 mg of omega-3s from fish oil daily. But this important, breakthrough research — along with some other new studies I’ll tell you about in the upcoming June 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter — now suggests doses need to be higher than originally thought.
In fact, you should supplement with 3,000 to 4,000 mg per day.
That dosage may sound high. But remember, we need to think of omega-3s in food quantities, not in supplement quantities. These are the quantities you get when you eat a serving of fatty fish. So, they are also the quantities you should strive for when supplementing, unless you eat fish on a daily basis. And any omega-3 supplement formula you choose should contain both EPA and DHA, the active forms of the essential fatty acids.
To see where your current levels are, ask your doctor for a blood test to measure the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, seeds, and nuts) to omega-6 fatty acids (from most vegetable oils and shortening) in your cell membranes. The average ratio in Western societies is about 16 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3. But research shows that for optimum health, the ratio should be 4 to 1 or lower.
As I mentioned a moment ago, in the June 2018’s Insider’s Cure newsletter, I’ll give you all the details about the new omega-3 research and how you can better your health. In the meantime, remember — not all fish oil is created equal.
In fact, I revealed tips for recognizing a high-quality fish oil supplement in the lead story from the October 2013 issue of my newsletter. (To revisit these archives, simply log into the Subscribers Sign-In via www.DrMicozzi.com. If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, click here to become one.)
All in all, many natural approaches prevent — and reverse — heart disease, in addition to omega-3s. And you can learn all about them in my online learning tool, Dr. Micozzi’s Heart Attack Prevention & Repair Protocol. Click here for more information or to enroll today.
“Erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 fatty acid levels are inversely associated with mortality and with incident cardiovascular disease: The Framingham Heart Study,” Journal of Clinical Lipidology (lipidjournal.com) 2/24/2018