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Believe it or not but Cholesterol is essential for your health!


So the second major myth that has been pushed and promoted with such frenzied fervour by the media, governments and big Pharma is that Cholesterol causes heart disease!  For more than 50 years we have been told that eating saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet raises “bad” cholesterol in the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.

Well first and foremost over 50% of all heart attack victims have NORMAL or LOW cholesterol levels!  Secondly your body actually produces 85% of the total cholesterol in your body, in other words your body makes its own cholesterol (funny that!), with only 15% coming from your diets!  In fact most dietary forms of cholesterol cannot even be absorbed by the body because it is not what they call free cholesterol in that they are already bound to a protein and can therefore not be absorbed directly through the gut!   Thirdly and most significantly cholesterol is absolutely essential to the life of humans and animals; without it, our cells could not repair themselves, we could not maintain proper hormone levels, we could not properly absorb vitamin D from the sun, we could not regulate our salt and water balance, and we could not digest fats. Cholesterol is also a major line of defence when your immune system comes under attack.  So lowering cholesterol levels artificially with drugs can make you more susceptible to germs or bacteria wreaking havoc on your health. Furthermore 25% of our body’s entire cholesterol stores are used in the brain for memory and regulation of your mood!  Is it no wonder then that one of the major side effects from cholesterol lowering medication is depression?

Now as a slight aside one of the most significant roles that Cholesterol plays in the body is for repair and fighting inflammation!  Now when you consider inflammation is implicated in over 90% of all modern diseases this is fairly significant!  And one of the biggest causes of inflammation are GRAINS!

Like a mother protecting their young, a grain protects its offspring by producing poisonous chemicals called PHYTATES. Phytates simply stop your body digesting the grain and in the process causes inflammation!  So simply by reducing your intake of ALL grains you will immediately reduce a major cause of cholesterol production!  As you probably know grains are also bad news because they contain Gluten which the majority of us are highly sensitive, if not allergic too!  Even Oats which are reputedly gluten free are bad because they contain not only phytates but also a chemical called avenin which is very similar to gluten!  So grains full stop are a considerable problem and I have not even mentioned their high carbohydrate content!!!!!!!  Grains are NOT GOOD FOR YOU!

So why are grains so popular?  Simply because they are very cheap!  Just over 100 years ago a Swiss invention changed our diets for ever, it was the steel roller and it transformed the milling of grain.  Suddenly industry could make white flour and bread cheaply but interestingly by removing the oil rich germ and fibre rich bran, the flour was stripped of virtually all of its nutrients. It was only after millions of people died of malnutrition did governments act mandating that flour be fortified with vitamins and minerals and so it became enriched.   And yet in relation to our evolution grains are such a new addition to our diets we have not yet evolved to digest it!  So unless you are facing starvation I would stay away from grains!

Apologies I regress!

Now it is important to realise that firstly, cholesterol is not a fat rather it is a sterol (a combination of a steroid and an alcohol) and secondly LDL and HDL (you have all heard of low & high density lipo proteins) are not even cholesterol, and this is where the confusion starts!

To get around the body the cholesterol needs to be carried and the 2 major classification of particles that do this include LDL (low density lipo-protein), apparently the bad guy and HDL (high density lipo-protein) the good guy!    However the good guy/ bad guy label is a little too simplistic.  As research is showing there is a further classification of LDL (the bad guy) based on size!  Pattern A is the large fluffy and generally harmless kind that is described as “good” LDL (yes, there is such a thing); whereas Pattern B is the small, dense, potentially dangerous kind that is described as “bad.”

Pattern B LDL can easily penetrate the arterial wall, compromising your heart health and this is what you are trying to avoid! Think of it this way: small, dense LDL are like pebbles whereas large, buoyant LDL are like beach balls. And if you throw a beach ball at a window, nothing happens. But if you throw the pebble at the window, it breaks.  So unfortunately following conventional advice  replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates – which has been recommended by the IMO for decades – actually reduces HDL and increases small, dense LDL, both of which are associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Now as I mentioned already dietary cholesterol has a negligible effect on total blood LDL cholesterol levels. However that said, eating eggs every day is actually proven to reduce small, dense LDL, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.

So as I am sure you can see to blame cholesterol for heart attacks is analogous to blaming car passengers for the increase in road traffic accidents!  Cholesterol is an innocent bystander!  It is not saturated fat or cholesterol that increases the amount of small, dense LDL we have in our blood. It is carbohydrate, which also raises levels of insulin and fat storage!  

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