Eat eggs, they’re good for you. Eggs are bad for you. Coconut oil is good for you. Coconut oil is bad for you. Red meat’s good for you. Red meat’s bad for you. Butter’s good for you. Butter’s bad for you.
What is the commonality between all of these conflicting foods? Cholesterol.
Cholesterol. Is it the enemy or the hero?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance, produced by the liver, that is necessary for thousands of bodily functions. The body uses it to help build your cell membranes, cover your nerve sheaths, and much of your brain.
[Cholesterol] assists in the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K [and] contributes to nerve impulse conduction (Marcel, 2018)
The body makes all the cholesterol a person needs in the liver; however, people can also obtain cholesterol from animal products, such as meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. According to the American Heart Association (2017) cholesterol comes in two types: LDL cholesterol, which has often been considered bad, and HDL, which is considered good.
Some Examples of HDL Cholesterol:
Some Examples of LDL Cholesterol:
Did you know cholesterol is also a key building block for hormone production?
Without cholesterol, we would not get adequate levels of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol. Even more dramatic, without it, we would die! In fact, as we age people with the lowest amounts have a shorter lifespan.
Where we all once thought that dietary fat will cause weight gain and clogged arteries, now we know that the body’s ultimate regulator, the brain, is made up of 60% fat and 25% cholesterol. Dr. Will Cole
Cholesterol is necessary for optimal brain function!
OK, if this is true, then why have we been told our whole lives to avoid cholesterol causing food substances? Well, it’s because, in terms of cholesterol, the TYPE of fat you eat is more important than the AMOUNT. Our body DOES NOT thrive on the abnormal cholesterol, which is not caused by fat but by — you guessed it — sugar!
Separating FAT From FICTION (haha get it?)
A dramatic study was done in 2009 by the American Heart Journal. They found that 75% of patients admitted to hospitals with heart disease had NORMAL cholesterol levels. Fluke? Well probably not, due to the fact that they looked at 231,836 cases from 541 hospitals. Conclusion? It’s carbs and sugar that cause heart disease.
Sugar and refined carbs create DANGEROUS LDL PARTICLES that cause heart disease. We got it wrong. It’s not the egg yolks and coconut oil that cause disease, it’s the bread and cake we ate with it. It’s the sugar and white bread.
The reality is, total cholesterol is a poor predictor for assessing heart attack and stroke risk. Studies have found that there might be no association between high total cholestrol and heart attack and stroke. Dr. Will Cole
What Should We Do?
Cut out refined oils, except for extra virgin olive oil
When cooking, use extra virgin coconut oil and a little grass-fed butter or ghee
Stop fearing animal fat, but stick with grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic
Get fats from whole foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Increasing fiber intake, which according to the American Heart Association (2017) can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10%
Interestingly enough high fats diets can raise HDL and lower triglycerides and small LDL cholesterol particles. What does this mean? Maybe you should be eating MORE fat, not less.
Want to learn more about healthy fat and how to eat it? Look through these posts:
What do you think, is cholesterol the hero or the enemy? Would your opinion change the way you eat?
American Heart Association. (2017). Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia
Cole, W. (2019). Common Weight Loss Myths Debunked How To Lose Weight For Good. Retrieved from https://drwillcole.com/tried-everything-cant-lose-weight-read-this/.
Hyman, M. (2016). Eat Fat, Get Thin: the Surprising Truth About the Fat We Eat – the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health. Little Brown & Co.
Marcel, C. B. (2018). Cholesterol. CINAHL Nutrition Guide. Retrieved from https://bigbrother.logan.edu:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nuc&AN=T906588&site=nurc-live&scope=site
MedlinePlus. (2019). Cholesterol. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html