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The Cholesterol Myth

Cholesterol continues to be demonized by the medical profession despite study after study proving otherwise. For example, a scholarly review published in Science several years ago showed that cholesterol levels up to 240 were normal and that women with a cholesterol over 240 had a decreased risk for coronary deaths.

Belief that cholesterol is bad started when surgeons were noticing that people who died from heart disease had elevated cholesterol. So, without any studies, they jumped to the conclusion that the cholesterol caused the heart disease.  That would be the same as showing up to a house that was on fire, seeing all the firemen, and claiming that the firemen must have caused the fire.  In reality, the firemen were there in response to the fire, same as cholesterol.

Ancel Keys ran with the idea that cholesterol caused heart disease and set out to find a correlation. He demonstrated a relationship between fat and cholesterol intake and deaths from heart disease in six countries.  His findings were so convincing that his views and suggestions became official National Institutes of Health policy and kicked off a massive campaign to lower cholesterol 1961.

The problem was that Keys studied 22 countries and only chose to include 6, cherry picking the countries that had high fat intake and coronary death rates to support his theory. The other 16 countries showed no correlation.  In fact, data from Sweden, Germany, France and Israel showed that the higher the saturated fat and cholesterol intake, the lower the incidence of coronary deaths.

Cholesterol and Diet

Dietary intake of cholesterol has almost nothing to do with overall cholesterol in the body. Around 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is heavily influenced by insulin levels, an increased demand for hormone production, or a need for healing and repair somewhere in the system (usually damaged cell membranes and arterial walls).  Arterial damage and plaque build up is started by “scratches” from sugar that allows deposits of calcium, fatty substances, and scar tissue to build up and “hardening” the arteries. Cholesterol repairs problems.  It does not cause them.  If cholesterol levels are actually high (above 250 mg/dl), it is because our bodies are producing more in response to a problem, not because “we ate too many egg yolks” like traditionally believed.  In fact, if cholesterol is high and we artificially lower it (by taking a statin), we are taking away the main molecule our body is trying to use to fix the issue.  This is NOT a good idea.  We should instead look to heal the underlying problems so that our cholesterol numbers will normalize naturally.

Biggest Myths About Dietary Fat and Cholesterol

Myth: A Low-Fat Diet is The Optimal Human Diet

Fact: There is no evidence that low-fat diets lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, or reduce risk of disease.

Myth: Cholesterol Rich Foods (Like Eggs) Are Bad For You

Fact: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Dietary cholesterol does not affect body cholesterol.

Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat and High-Fat Diets Are Dangerous

Fact: Dietary fat does not equal body fat. Despite fat having more calories per gram than carbs or protein, studies show that high-fat (and low-carb) diets lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets.

Myth: Processed Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy Options

Fact: When processed foods claim “low fat” or “diet” on the label, the fat content has almost always been replaced with sugar. Sugar is added because the foods tasted terrible after the fat content was removed.  If no sugar was added, then you can be sure that harmful artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, or sucralose were included instead.

Myth: Your Total and LDL Cholesterol Levels Are Good Indicators of Heart Attack Risk

Fact: Total and LDL cholesterol levels are poor indicators of heart disease risk.  LDL particle size is better to look at, but all lipid markers should be evaluated for full picture.

Myth: Processed Seed and Vegetable Oils Are Healthy

Fact: Soybean oil, Canola oil, Corn oil, Cottonseed oil, Peanut oil, and so on are loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats that can contribute to inflammation and disease.

Myth: Saturated Fat Raises Your “Bad” Cholesterol and Causes Heart Disease

Fact: Despite decades of anti-fat propaganda, saturated fat has never been proven to cause heart disease. In fact, saturated fat improves some of the most important risk factors for heart disease, changing small/dense LDL to large/fluffy LDL and increasing overall HDL levels.

Myth: Saturated Fats and Trans Fats Are Similar

Bottom Line: Trans fats resemble saturated fat in consistency and shelf life, but the chemical composition is still very different. Trans-fats, otherwise known as partially hydrogenated fats, are synthetically made in a lab through a process involving high pressure, high heat, a metal catalyst, and hydrogen gas. Trans fats are highly toxic and can cause, poorly formed cell membranes, insulin resistance, inflammation, and significantly raise the risk of heart disease.

Myth: Margarine is Better Than Butter

Fact: Margarine is an unhealthy fake food produced in factories, usually containing trans fats and processed vegetable oils. Butter is a much healthier choice, especially if it comes from grass-fed cows.

 

Set up an appointment with Trovato Nutrition to learn how to naturally control Cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy range without the use of statin medications.