Eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood is just a myth. The diet-heart hypothesis—which holds that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our blood—originated with studies in both animals and humans more than half a century ago. However, more recent (and higher quality) evidence doesn’t support it.
What means Cholesterol?
It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead. Cholesterol, that waxy substance produced by the liver and found in certain foods, is needed to make vitamin D and some hormones, build cell walls, and create bile salts that help you digest fat.
Why is Cholesterol important for us?
No cells, no bone structure, no muscles, no hormones, no sex, no reproductive system, no digestion, no brain function, no memory, no nerve endings, no movement, no human life – nothing without cholesterol. It is utterly vital and we die instantly without it.
Our body produces it itself because it is so vital. Getting it only through nutrition (external) would be too risky for our body and our life.
Cholesterol performs three main functions
- It helps make the outer coating of cells
- It makes up the bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine
- It allows the body to make Vitamin D and hormones
How about good and bad Cholesterol?
There is no such thing as good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is cholesterol. The chemical formula for cholesterol is C27H46O. It combines with other fats and proteins to be carried through the bloodstream, since fat and our watery blood do not mix very well. Fatty substances therefore must be shuttled to and from our tissues and cells using proteins. LDL and HDL are carrier proteins and are far from being just cholesterol. HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein, carrying recycled cholesterol and LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein, carrying fresh cholesterol.
Why does Cholesterol has such a bad reputation?
Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on earth. In other words, there is no life on that globe that can live without cholesterol.That will automatically tell you that Cholesterol cannot be bad. In fact, it is one of our best friends. We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one’s risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.
Is there any causality between saturated fat, high cholesterol level and heart deseases?
We’ve been told for decades the hypothesis on cholesterol and heart disease. It has two parts
- First, that eating cholesterol in the diet increases cholesterol levels in the blood (“the diet -heart hypothesis”)
- Second, that high cholesterol levels in the blood cause heart disease (“the lipid hypothesis”).
Meanwhile multiple studies show that neither of these statements are true. The “Framingham Heart Study” clearly shows that there is now correlation what’s so ever.
In fact, the “diet-heart hypothesis”, has even been discounted by the researchers who were responsible for its genesis. Ancel Keys, who in many ways can be considered the “father” of the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis, had this to say in 1997: “There’s no connection whatsoever between the cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.” (They experimented with chickens and rabbits known as vegetarians….does that ring a bell to you?)
With regards to “the lipid hypothesis” most researchers now believe the primary causes of heart disease is not cholesterol BUT inflammation and oxidative stress.
Cholesterol and inflammation – what exactly is the connection?
If your arteries are damaged an inflammation process in your blood vessels can provoke a plaque, along with the thickening of your blood and constricting of your blood vessels and can potentially increase your risk of high blood pressure and even heart attack. It is comparible with the process after having cut yourself. An inflammation our body’s natural response to invaders it perceives as threats. The inflammation process allows your cut to heal:
- Your blood vessels constrict to keep you from bleeding to death
- Your blood becomes thicker so it can clot
- Your immune system sends cells and chemicals to fight viruses, bacteria and other “bad guys” that could infect the area
- Cells multiply to repair the damage
- A protective scar forms over the area…which would be the plaque in the example above.
Finally the cut gets healed and a protective scar may form over the area. If your arteries are damaged, a very similar process occurs inside of your body. in this case the scar gets exchanged by a plaque. This plaque, along with the thickening of the blood and constricting of the blood vessels that normally occur during the inflammatory process, can indeed increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Now the cholesterol gets active, in order to replace your damaged cells. We know that no cell can form without cholesterol. In case of damaged cells it is therefore logical, that the liver will be notified to produce more cholesterol to be release into the bloodstream. And yes of course due to this process there is an increased cholesterol level to be noticed. Even the conventional medicine is more and more accepting the fact that chronic inflammation can trigger heart attacks, but they do not see yet that the increased cholesterol circulation in the bloodstream isn’t the reason for heart attack, but the underlying damage to the arteries.
Are drugs to lower cholesterol the right answer?
If excessive damage is occurring and your body answers with a inflammation such that it is necessary to distribute extra cholesterol through the bloodstream, it might be not very smart to lower the cholesterol and forget about why it is there in the first place. It would seem much wiser to reduce the extra need for the cholesterol – the excessive damage that is occurring, the reason for the chronic inflammation.
The pharma industry is of course interested to push medicines such as statin, But statin inhibits not just the production of cholesterol, but a whole family of intermediary substances, many if not all of which have important biochemical functions in their own right. For starters, statin drugs deplete your body of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is beneficial to heart health and muscle function. Because doctors rarely inform people of this risk and advise them to take a CoQ10 supplement, this depletion leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness, and eventually heart failure. Might be worth to ask some more critical questions next time you see the doc concerning such matter.
How to naturally lower inflammation?
Life is not fair: we were following this myth that cholesterol and saturated fat is bad for us and can trigger heart desease for more than than 50 years. AND as a reaction of this myth we were told to put ourselves on a low-fat diet and to increase the consumation of processed grains, more vegetable oils, and more high-fructose corn syrup, all of which are nutritional disasters. It is this latter type of diet that will eventually lead to increased inflammation, and therefore higher cholesterol levels in our body. So don’t let anyone scare you away from saturated fat anymore. Chronic inflammation is actually caused by a laundry list of items such as:
- Eating lots of sugar and grains
- Eating foods cooked at high temperatures
- Consuming too much Omega 6 (vegetable oils)
- Eating trans fats
- Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs etc.)
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Emotional stress
It seems that there is no need, whatsoever, to avoid liver, red meat, other meat, fish, eggs, dairy products etc for any cholesterol that they may contain, or for any other reason. Our body produces cholesterol. We might have to worry about a number of things, but we shouldn’t worry that our body is trying to kill us.