We have been programmed to believe that any form of cholesterol is bad for us.
In fact, the opposite is true.
There is a new study finding that low levels of cholesterol can actually reduce the beneficial muscle gain from exercising. Research has also shown that people who die of heart disease have low or average blood cholesterol.
Despite the plethora of previous and on-going scientific studies, there is NO evidence linking a diet high in saturated fats and blood cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease. In fact, almost ¾ of the fat that accumulates in the arteries is unsaturated fat.
Researchers looked at 55 healthy men and women in their 60s. Overall, the study concluded that there was a significant link between dietary cholesterol and the increase in strength: Those with the higher cholesterol intake had the most muscle strength gain. What’s more, the test subjects who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs showed lower muscle gain than those who were not.
The researchers conducting the study were stunned. “Needless to say, these findings caught us totally off guard,” said lead researcher Steven Reichman, a professor of health at Texas A&M University.
Cholesterol is so vital to the body it takes a lot of cholesterol to build and maintain a healthy body, especially the brain—There are 100 grams of cholesterol in the body, 25% of which is in the brain, the highest concentration in the connection between nerve cells and myelin that protects brain and nervous tissue.
- Cholesterol is in all cell membranes and stored in adipose tissue.
- Human breast milk is high in cholesterol because of the developing brain and eyes of an infant, which require large amounts of cholesterol.
- Cholesterol is the main ingredient in bile which is an emulsifier necessary for digesting and metabolizing dietary fat. Bile is the only way cholesterol leaves the body and is made and excreted at the direction of the liver.
- Cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cancer and slows aging by protection from free radical damage.
- Cholesterol provides structural support for the cells of the body.
- Cholesterol is the raw material needed by the body to produce Vitamin D and hormones.
- Cholesterol is structural glue used by the body to repair lesions and fissures (caused by inflammation, nutritional deficiency and toxins) in coronary arteries.
- Even at a very high dietary cholesterol intake, the fraction absorbed decreases, tending to limit absorption as the body keeps levels in balance with circulating blood cholesterol around and back to the liver.
Here are some of the components that make up cholesterol and its function in the body:
- Cholesterol is composed of a sterol or high molecular weight alcohol, fat and fat soluble vitamins, which are bundled together into lipoproteins.
- Lipoproteins are “transport vehicles” for fat and cholesterol in the body that travel in the blood and vary in size. Listed are from largest to smallest order of lipoproteins with “transport vehicle”equivalents:
- Chylomicrons – Bus – made in gut, transports dietary fat reassembled and sent out from intestinal wall
- VLDL – Van – Made in liver, transporting liver-made-fat and cholesterol throughout the body
- LDL – Car – Main transporter of cholesterol throughout the body-LDL is the metabolic residue VLDL
- HDL – motorcycle – Secreted by the liver separately, transporting “loose cholesterol” back to the liver for recycling.
Not surprisingly, VLDL , the liver-made-fat, is generated in response to ingested carbohydrates resulting in its metabolic residue, LDL. The more carbohydrates eaten the more VLDL is required to transport fat out to the body unloading its triglycerides.
High triglyceride (TG) and low HDL numbers indicate the strongest risk factor for heart disease. Divide TG by HDL for ratio. Anything above a 1:1 ratio is greatest risk indicator. (Example: TG 90, HDL 90 = 1:1 ratio – good; TG 150 HDL 30 = 5:1 ratio – bad) A TG number greater than 100 and a low HDL number is a strong indication that the LDL is probably the small, dense sticky blood Pattern B. An HDL number that is high with a low TG number indicates a probable Pattern A LDL, which is “large and fluffy.” An example would be TG 65, HDL 98, and is considered more desirable.
Cholesterol and Diet:
Let’s look at what happens when you eat a “High cholesterol” meal rich in saturated fats versus a “Government Recommended Food Pyramid” high carbohydrate meal.
Steak and Eggs (including the YOLKS!): The fat and protein begin to separate in the stomach and ultimately become gut assembled dietary fat, releasing Chylomicrons into the bloodstream via the lymph, traveling until they release fat to the cells, shrink and disappear, being cleared from circulation within 2 to 3 hours.
Cereal and skim milk: Glucose from the carbohydrates is sent directly into the blood and may be used in the short term for energy. After a short delay the liver starts converting excess carbohydrate into the body-made-fat called triglyceride. The liver then bundles triglycerides (liver-made-fat) with cholesterol and protein sending it out into the bloodstream as VLDL, the second largest lipoprotein and main transporter of liver-made-fat which can go on for several hours after a meal unloading its triglycerides.
As you can clearly see, metabolism is very different between a “high cholesterol, saturated fat” meal and a low-fat high-carbohydrate meal based on the food pyramid.
The body prefers fat as its main source of fuel.
Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy that is very efficiently utilized by the body.
In addition, saturated fats are
- Modulators of genetic regulation, prevent cancer, act as carriers of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and mineral absorption as well as numerous other biological processes
- The main source of fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure – (The heart is the only organ that doesn’t get cancer)
- Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
- Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti fungal agents (lauric acid)
- Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
Eight of the most common saturated fats and their sources are as follows:
- Butyric – Milk fat of ruminants – butter
- Caproic – milk fat
- Caprylic – animal fat, plant fat, milk and some seeds
- Capric – milk and some seed fats
- Lauric – palm kernel, coconut, human breast milk
- Myristic – milk and dairy products
- Palmitic – animal, plants and microorganisms – palm oil and meat
- Stearic – animals, plants, cocoa butter – meat and cocoa butter
An on-line search in Wikipedia’s definition of saturated fat states,
Deepfry oils and baking fats that are high in saturated fats, like palm oil, tallow or lard, can withstand extreme heat (of 180-200 degrees Celsius) and are resistant to oxidation.
A 2001 parallel review of 20-year dietary fat studies in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Spain concluded that…
…polyunsaturated oils like soya, canola, sunflower and corn degrade easily to toxic compounds and trans fat when heated up.
Prolonged consumption of trans fat-laden oxidized oils can lead to atherosclerosis, inflammatory joint disease and development of birth defects. The scientists also questioned global health authorities’ willful recommendation of large amounts of polyunsaturated fats into the human diet without accompanying measures to ensure the protection of these fatty acids against heat- and oxidative-degradation.
With all this information on how good saturated fats are and how bad polyunsaturated fats are, why are we so ingrained to believe that low-fat (polyunsaturated fat) and high carbohydrate diets are so healthy?
Cholesterol and Heart Disease:
In 1953 Ancel Keys, American Heart Association board member and professor at the University of Minnesota, published his Six Countries Analysis, showing a correlation between dietary fat and heart disease.
What you don’t hear is that the study was actually a 22 country study, but Keys didn’t like the results of the total 22 countries, which indicated that there was no correlation between consumption of saturated fats and heart disease, but actually the opposite. Keys omitted the other 16 countries and chose the 6 he knew would support his hypothesis.
A fellow AHA board member and staunch Keys supporter, Jeremiah Stamler, wrote a self-help book, Your Heart Has Nine Lives, which advocated the substitution of vegetable oils for butter and saturated fat. The book and Stamler’s research was sponsored by the makers of Mazola Corn Oil and Fleishmann’s Margarine.
In addition, an interesting point to mention is the fact that cholesterol lowering statin drugs account for more profit than any other drug. Statin drugs reduce the liver’s production of coenzyme Q10, which is vital for the proper function of the heart and other muscles. Moreover, recent studies have shown statin drugs to cause cancer in humans and laboratory animals.
In the 1980’s the total cholesterol number considered safe was 240 and below. Why does the safe cholesterol number keep going DOWN? The most profitable drug needs marketed and sold! Doctors now seem to be more driven by a number more than internal health. Blood Cholesterol numbers naturally go up as we age and are protective in adults over 50.
French researchers found that “the incidence of cancer began to climb steadily as cholesterol values fell below 200 mg/dl.” “Data suggests that for people without heart disease only 1 in 100 is likely to benefit from taking statin drugs” according to Businessweek.
I’m scratching my head and wondering why people just can’t grasp the concept that it’s the polyunsaturated fats, processed foods, sugar, and excess carbohydrates that are bad – carbohydrates regardless of the source, simple, complex, processed, are sugar to the body and creates an insulin response, which is the real culprit when it comes to heart disease and chronic disease.
I would like to point out also that people with heart disease have been shown to have elevated uric acid levels and elevated homocysteine levels. Both high uric acid and homocysteine levels are a direct result of excess carbohydrate consumption.
Cholesterol is Essential for Us
It has been known for over 50 years that milk is a natural antidote to elevated uric acid levels. It is also known that Vitamin B6, B12 and Folic acid reduce homocysteine levels in the body. Large amounts of B vitamins are necessary for digestion of sugar, processed or refined foods. Again, we see the sugar/carbohydrate heart connection.
Just think – if cows, raw milk, butter, eggs, B vitamins, the sun, etc., had a marketing budget, ad campaign and funding, don’t you think our opinion about what is healthy would be different from what people believe today?
The government and its food pyramid says that cholesterol is bad for us–nonsense!
I say we leave the pyramids to the Ancient Egyptians and fire up the griddle for some bacon and eggs!
- Life Without Bread, Christian B. Allan Ph.D and Wolfgang Lutz, MD
- Cereal Killer, Alan L. Watson
By Janet Stuck: Doctor of Naturopathy, Certified Nutritional Counselor, Certified Wellness Nutritional Counselor, Master Herbologist and Certified Natural Health Professional.
Janet’s website is http://www.onestopherbshop.net/