We have been told relentlessly for decades that cholesterol is bad for us and that we must all eat fewer eggs and butter. However, it is essential for all life on earth – including human life! It is a critical component of every living cell in our body. A full 25% of your body’s cholesterol is in the brain where it is essential for proper functioning. So why is it still villified?
This myth is one of the most enduring, and is closely allied with the myth that dietary saturated fat is bad for us, causes obesity and heart attacks. If you are interested in more information about busting the saturated fats myth, click here.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipoprotein, which means that it is a water-soluble protein that combines with and transports fat in the blood. It is a precursor for making Vitamin D, it is used in cell wall structures in the body and also for making hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. It also has a role to play in the healing process. Yet still the myth persists in the mainstream that dietary cholesterol should be avoided.
Although we eat cholesterol in various foods, it must be noted that the liver makes it as well. The less we eat the more the liver produces and vice versa. It is found in many fatty foods such as eggs, meat, butter, cheese and is particularly associated with saturated fats. But beyond this, some foods provide us with essential healthy Cholesterol and others do not. Lets take a look.
Small dense LDL is the most undesirable kind of cholesterol and we get more of it in our blood when we eat too much sugar and refined carbohydrates as well as unhealthy inflammatory Omega-6 vegetable oils (safflower oil, canola, rapeseed oil). However, the larger sized ‘fluffy’ LDL particles are not at all bad for us and eating more foods containing saturated fats will increase the larger sized LDL. HDL also goes up when we eat healthy saturated fats.
It can appear confusing but measuring our total blood level of cholesterol gives almost zero useful information. This is because it is the profile of what types of cholesterol in the blood that matters. There are at least 5 different types but for simplicity here we will consider three. Cholesterol molecules are broadly divided into two categories – High density Lipoprotien (HDL) and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is referred to as the ‘good cholesterol’ and LDL is known as the ‘bad cholesterol’ but even this is overly simplistic. You see LDL comes in two sizes; large fluffy LDL and small dense LDL. The undesirable cholesterol is the small dense kind where as the large fluffy LDL is no problem.
It is easy enough to find out what your particular levels are if you ask your doctor for something called the Particle test. Also check out Cholesterol support here for testing. Or get it tested at Harley Street in the UK. Without knowing the details of your particle size, your total cholesterol level means nothing.
Heart disease is not caused by Dietary Cholesterol
According to Dr Bowden in the interview All disease including heart disease has 4 root causes:
All of these are related to lifestyle choices and diet in particular. Health is very much a choice, albeit a difficult one at times. But the information you need is not rocket science and you do not need your Doctor to tell you how to achieve it. In fact, no matter how well-meaning your Doctor is, They are likely to point you in the wrong direction because of the myths with which they have been trained.
In a nutshell, our health is not compromised by dietary cholesterol if we eat with knowledge and consume the right healthful fats. Sugar and refined carbs are a problem since they cause inflammation and increase blood triglyceride levels.
The unspecific measurement of blood cholesterol levels without reference to separate HDL and LDL particle size tells us little about our health risk for heart attack. Get the particle test if you are concerned, and change your diet.
Smashing this and other health related myths is essential for you to thrive. How tragic if we end up mistakenly killing ourselves due to eating the wrong ‘food’. knowledge is power. All the technology is available today for us to achieve optimal health. There are no excuses any more. The most powerful thing you can do to affect your physical and mental health outcomes your personal development outcomes and your life in general, is to change your diet. Do it today!