Most of you know that I enjoy cooking—my intention is to create food that is not only delicious, but deeply nourishing. As an herbalist, I’m especially interested in the health benefits of common herbs and spices used in culinary traditions around the world. My Italian heritage means that basil, oregano, and rosemary play a prominent role in our kitchen, but our shelves are filled with a wide variety of spices and herbs. One of my favorites is turmeric, a deep golden yellow powder that is best known as an ingredient in East Indian curries. Throughout history, turmeric has been valued as a spice, food preservative, dye (giving Buddhist robes their familiar golden color), and most importantly, as a powerful plant medicine. A close relative of ginger, turmeric grows in southern India, China, and Indonesia.


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When I think of foods that have “super” health-promoting properties, berries are on my list of top ten favorites. Not only are they delicious, but bilberries, black currants, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries—in fact, every berry you can think of—offer an enormous range of health benefits. What all of these berries have in common are anthocyanins—the pigments that give them their rich deep red and purple coloring. Although berries are perhaps the best-known sources of anthocyanins, other foods with the same colorants—for example, beets, cherries, eggplant, plums, pomegranates, purple cabbage, purple grapes, and red onions—also contain these valuable compounds. Grape seed extract, an especially rich source of anthocyanins, is the most widely researched anthocyanin supplement. Another excellent anthocyanin source—and one of my favorites—is a blend of fruit anthocyanins, which contains red grape, elderberry, blueberry, aronia berry, pomegranate, and red raspberry.


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One of the most frequent questions people ask me is, “What should I eat?” Maintaining health through diet is one of the central principles of the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System (ETMS). The ETMS dietary approach is unique, in that it weaves together the core principles of traditional dietary wisdom and current scientific research to offer a comprehensive health supportive diet that can be easily modified for individual needs.


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I’ve had numerous requests for information regarding specific dietary supplements and herbs that can help to normalize cholesterol profiles. Because there is so much misinformation regarding cholesterol, I want to reiterate that cholesterol is not the evil monster that it is made out to be.

Cholesterol is a lipid that is critical for the proper functioning of the body, and is used to build cell membranes, create sex hormones, aid in immune health and tissue repair; and facilitate digestion. However, elevated LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol, in the presence of prolonged inflammation, oxidation (of LDL cholesterol) and elevated blood glucose and insulin levels can contribute mightily to cardiovascular disease.


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In part 1 of this series, I provided an in-depth evaluation of the powerful role that diet plays in cardiovascular health, particularly in regard to achieving healthy cholesterol levels. As I pointed out in that post, I do not recommend statins, except in rare cases. Even then, the dosages I recommend are far less than the current standard of practice dictates.

Although cholesterol is often singled out as the cause of cardiovascular disease, this waxy, fat-like substance is essential to our health. Cholesterol is found in every cell, and is an important component of the membrane that surrounds cells. It’s also necessary for hormone production, specifically the hormone pregnenolone, which is the precursor to all other steroid hormones. Additionally, cholesterol is the precursor for bile acids that are necessary for digestion and provitamin D.


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It likely comes as no surprise that whenever possible, I advise avoiding pharmaceutical drugs in favor of healthy lifestyle changes. Prescription drugs invariably come with a host of side effects—some of which can be life threatening.

Statins, used for lowering cholesterol, are among the most commonly prescribed drugs. Although we’ve long been reassured that statins are safe, the truth is that statin-related side effects—including statin cardiomyopathy—are far more common than previously recognized. Fortunately, this serious condition is reversible with the combination of statin discontinuation and supplemental CoQ-10 (both ubiquinol—the reduced form and/or ubiquinone) and other mitochondrial-enhancing nutrients, such as R-lipoic acid, magnesium-creatine, magnesium glutamine, and botanicals, such as anabolic adaptogens and cardiovascular nourishing tonics.1


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