Myths & Truth About Cholesterol

Pictured here are cholesterol crystals. Cholesterol is critical for proper brain function. Twenty-five percent of the body's cholesterol is found in the brain.
Pictured here are cholesterol crystals. Cholesterol is critical for proper brain function. Twenty-five percent of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain.
Contrary to what many will tell you, cholesterol really isn’t the bad guy that he’s made out to be. Cholesterol is important and we need it for many of the processes in our body. While it’s true that cholesterol can build up in your arteries, that event is triggered by the inflammatory damage done by sugar. The fact is, we need cholesterol.

Cholesterol is important for:

  • Nerve function
  • Vitamin D synthesis
  • Absorption of the fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E, & K
  • Hormone production – without cholesterol, we cannot maintain proper hormonal balance
  • Cell repair

In addition, statin drugs, prescribed to lower cholesterol, are over-prescribed in most cases. While they have a place, they are prescribed too often. The risks of statin drugs include muscle pain and fatigue. It can also accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. [3]

Pictured here are cholesterol crystals. Cholesterol is also important for proper hormone production.
Pictured here are cholesterol crystals. Cholesterol is also important for proper hormone production.

How did we get to this place? It all started with a man named Ancel Keys. In the early 1950s, he looked at data from a couple of countries that had low levels of heart disease. Because those countries also had low fat diets, he concluded that low fat diets resulted in less heart disease. Sadly, he chose only the data that would fit his hypothesis. He had data from 22 countries, but included only 6 of them in his findings. If you’re so inclined, you can read about that and more in this Illustrated History of Heart Disease.

So, what’s a body to do? Here’s some common sense suggestions:

  • Control your stress.
  • Reduce sugar and starch consumption – including processed foods.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – especially those high in Vitamin C.
  • Include nuts, seeds, and beans in your diet.
  • Eat only whole grains.
  • Include healthy fats in your diet.
  • Consume naturally raised animal proteins and fats.
What do you think? Are you surprised or did you know this to be true?

[1] Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Do Not Cause Coronary Heart Disease
[2] Illustrated History of Heart Disease 1825-2015
[3] Cholesterol Myth: What Really Causes Heart Disease?
[4] The Big Fat Cholesterol Myth

Cholesterol Crystals in Synovial Fluid Photos Courtesy Ed Uthman via Flickr

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Barbara

I'm now an author and publisher. I write a blog over at BarbaraMcNeely.com. And I have a book published - “Lessons of an Opening Heart."
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