Cholesterol Myths & Truths
It's funny how easy it is for me to get caught up in my little health bubble and forget that there are people out there who still believe that red meat, egg yolks, and dietary cholesterol are bad for us. These are usually the people who are still consuming artificial sweeteners in an attempt to reduce calories and lose weight. This is not me passing judgement on these people either; it simply is a gentle reminder that I need to keep talking and posting about these topics so that the truth gets out into the world.
Today, we are doing to talk about three myths about cholesterol and what is actually true.
Myth 1: Cholesterol in the body is unhealthy.
Truth: Cholesterol is essential to our health. It is found in all of our cell membranes, helps build sex hormones (thereby making it important for fertility), assists in making vitamin D (how many of us are now low in vitamin D after all these "low-fat," "low-cholesterol" years???), and is a key ingredient in bile. Bile helps digest fats and assists in removing toxins from the body. Have crappy bile, you will become deficient in fat soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, K, and E) and will not digest fats properly leading to a lack of essential fatty acids. This can cause headaches, hormone imbalances, joint pain and inflammation, and mental health issues.
See the pattern? Cholesterol is a necessary substance for the body.
Myth 2: Eating dietary cholesterol will raise your blood cholesterol.
Truth: Dietary cholesterol raises your blood cholesterol levels by less than 1%, so all this BS we've been fed about avoiding red meat, egg yolks, and other sources of dietary cholesterol has been based on false findings. Naturally occurring saturated fats can help raise HDL cholesterol, which is a good thing, but that is something we desire, not the other way around. Plus, if you DON'T eat cholesterol, your body is forced to make it. That's how important it is. Cholesterol is needed to respond to inflammation in the body. All of us are inflammed in some way because of our diet, stress, toxin exposure, etc. We need cholesterol to help heal our bodies from this excess of inflammation.
Myth 3: High cholesterol causes heart disease.
This is the big one. This statement has never been proven. Never. The studies that have come out about this very topic are either founded on false findings or were reported falsely. There have been actually studies proving that the more cholesterol and calories one ate, the lower the person's cholesterol, but will we ever see this posted in the media? Nope.
So if cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease, what does? Obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, STRESS, lack of exercise, and the over consumption of sugar/artificial sweetener laden processed foods and vegetable oils.
So, if you have "high" cholesterol numbers, what should you do?
First off, let's define "high" in the holistic context. Typically, we want to make sure our total cholesterol is under 250 (not 200 like typically said) AND, most importantly, that our triglycerides are between 75-100 and HDL is high enough so that our triglyceride/HDL ratio is between 0.2.5. Anything higher is an issue.
Second, the factors that may impact cholesterol numbers for the better that AREN'T related to dietary cholesterol include reducing alcohol consumption, removing excess refined carbs/sugar/vegetable oils from the diet, discovering hidden food sensitivities/allergies (which are a stressor on the body), checking for heavy metal toxicity, losing weight, assessing gut health, and reducing stress.
Remember, cholesterol isn't the enemy like it's been made out to be. Eat real, whole foods, some of which that have cholesterol in them, alongside of plenty of vegetables and water, reduce stress, and you'll be on the way to health!