Cholesterol Myths Busted

Cholesterol Myths Busted Part 1

What if nearly everything we’ve been told about cholesterol is wrong? Despite science to the contrary, cholesterol myths abound.

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Cholesterol is not the enemy we’ve been led to believe. Since the 1960s we’ve been hearing we need to watch our cholesterol levels. We should not allow them to get too high, or we could be at risk for heart disease. The fact is, if your cholesterol levels get too low, you’re at risk of developing serious health challenges…..

Cholesterol is Crucial

Without adequate amounts of cholesterol life itself would be impossible. It is indispensable. In fact, I would go as far to say that cholesterol is one of the most important substances in the human body. Cholesterol is used for many vital bodily functions. These include but are not limited to:

  • Vitamin D levels Cholesterol on our skin synthesizes with sunlight to produce natural Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important immune system modulator. In addition, low vitamin D levels have been associated with numerous chronic diseases. (Source)
  • Hormone balance Without adequate amounts of cholesterol the body cannot make critical stress, and sex hormones. Low cholesterol levels have been associated with sexual dysfunction. This also impairs our ability to adapt to stress. (Source)
  • Digestion Cholesterol assist with the production of bile. Adequate bile production is necessary in order to digest fats. Fats contain many micro-nutrients necessary for survival. (Source)
  • Brain and nerve function Our brains contain approximately 25 percent of the cholesterol in our bodies. Cholesterol is used in the brain for synapse formation. Electrical impulses at the synapse are what allows our brains to process information, and to send information throughout the body through the nerves. (Source)
  • Cell membrane integrity Cholesterol is the substance that gives all of our 75 trillion cells their rigidity, and fluidity. This is necessary for proper cell function. (Source)
  • Cell signaling Cholesterol helps to regulate cellular protein pathways. These pathways allow our cells to communicate with one another. (Source)
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What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a sterol. What’s a sterol? It’s a steroid / alcohol molecule. HDL and LDL are not cholesterol! They are lipoproteins: high density lipoprotein (HDL) and  low density lipoproteins (LDL).

The reason why HDL and LDL are talked about so much is that they carry cholesterol around in the bloodstream. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver, where it is produced, to the sight in the body where it is needed. That’s why it’s called “bad”. HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver where is is either re-assimilated or removed. That’s why it’s called “good”.

The theory suggests that anything that serves to eliminate cholesterol from the body must be “good”.

Why are Cholesterol Levels so Hard to Change?

Eighty percent of the cholesterol in our bodies is produced in the liver. The other twenty percent comes from our diets. Cholesterol in the diet comes from animal products. Plant-based products are naturally cholesterol free.

God knew how important cholesterol was going to be. He wasn’t about to allow us to go without it. So, he built in a system to help ensure adequate levels. As cholesterol intake goes down, liver production goes up. As dietary cholesterol levels go up, liver production goes down.

So What’s all the Fuss About?

The Lipid Hypothesis or the cholesterol theory has actually been around for over 100 years. The hypothesis goes like this: Dietary cholesterol is deposited in arterial plaque causing an obstruction to blood flow, leading to coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.

What got the cholesterol ball rolling was a study published in 1913 by Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch conducted on rabbits. The rabbits were fed concentrated cholesterol, enough to bring their blood levels to over 1,000 mg/dl.  There was a direct link established between these extreme levels of cholesterol and atherosclerosis. (Source)

The fact that rabbits are herbivores, (vegetarians) and would not normally consume cholesterol in their diets has been largely ignored. Interestingly enough, followup studies conducted on rats and dogs (omnivores) failed to show any increase in arterial lesions. (Source)

Can cholesterol levels get too high? Yes they can. But not for the reasons you may think.

There is much more to say on this subject, to be continued….

About the Author David Sandstrom

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