Select Page

Oh god, my hands are trembling just t-t-t-t-t-typing the word ?cholesterol. It’s so scary. It is one of the definitive words of an aging, hospital-ridden, overweight baby boomer. It’s a symbol of having choked down one-too many ribeyes and a few too many plates of bacon and eggs(because the causes of heart disease and cholesterol all involve our favorite foods). Cholesterol is without a doubt a formidable opponent to the health of homo sapiens. It is like a germ that infects our arteries with its poison.

Or at least, that’s what most people think.

But does cholesterol cause heart disease, really? And what is the link between the infamous cholesterol and heart disease?

Cholesterol is an essential nutrient in the human body. It is so important that your body was designed to produce all the cholesterol it needs just in case your diet comes short. In other words, running out of this molecule – one in which we would surely die without, is too risky. In fact, cholesterol is a precursor to the formation of many hormones in which life depends. It functions as an antioxidant in the body. It’s like a crew of firemen – often seen at the scene, but part of the help squad and far from being the cause of the fire in the first place.

You may not have heard some of these things about cholesterol, but you’ve heard plenty about it.It’s bad for you. It’s one of the leading causes of heart disease. It clogs your arteries. Too bad you aren’t deaf. Odds are you would be a lot healthier if you had never even heard of cholesterol and hadn’t been instructed to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for health.

Cholesterol was originally found in the arteries of those that had heart disease. Scientists at the time, using their keen sense of observation like those who proclaimed the world to be flat had a big ?aha? over this. The war was on, and the rest is history. But does cholesterol cause heart disease?

History indeed, as this line of scientific reasoning (it’s there, so it’s guilty!) about cholesterol’s role in heart disease is an ancient relic.Cholesterol and heart disease share no causal connection. In fact, if you are following a low-fat diet to reduce your cholesterol, chances of heart disease, weight, or for any other purpose, you might as well bust out the Kenny Rogers on 8-track to accompany your grueling cardio routine while you’re at it. Jane Fonda workout on Betamax perhaps?

Cholesterol levels are a pitiful indicator of heart disease risk to the point where they are really no indication at all. Mean serum cholesterol levels in France for example are almost identical to that of Americans, yet their heart disease risk is but a fifth of what America endures. This is just one of literally dozens of striking contradictions.

Since cholesterol levels couldn’t predict much of anything, and couldn’t be called one of the causes of heart disease,it was subdivided into two categories of cholesterol types, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Now, we were told, there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol(despite LDL and HDL being proteins – not cholesterol, ha!). Getting a reading on your total cholesterol profile is just now becoming a common practice, and guess what? It’s already ancient history too.

Now we know that there are other subcategories of cholesterol that refine risk even further. There is pattern a and pattern b LDL, ?bad? cholesterol. That’s right, there is bad, bad cholesterol, and good, bad cholesterol. Oh brother. Turns out our war on bad cholesterol was rife with friendly fire, destroying yet another type of cholesterol that supposedly protects us from heart disease.

Speaking of friendly fire, the low fat diet that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels has been shown to lower HDL, ?good? cholesterol more than it lowers LDL (which could be good or bad depending on type). HDL is more protective than LDL is dangerous, one key reason why a low fat diet may damn well be increasing your risk of heart disease!

The bottom line is that the cholesterol and heart disease story is pretty silly. Not only does cholesterol not have a thing to do with causing heart attacks, even its presence or type tells us little about our heart disease risk. A much better indicator of risk is something as simple as waist circumference. Your efforts to eat and live and medicate yourself in a way that changes your cholesterol level or profile for good health have mostly been a waste of time.

High blood pressure, high insulin levels, high levels of inflammation like C-reactive protein, high triglycerides, high levels of homocysteine, being overweight, glucose metabolism, and others indicate possible causes of heart disease in the risk profile much more accurately than cholesterol.

Focusing on cholesterol above and beyond anything else, to the point where pre-teens are now being prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, may not make much sense given this much more current and enlightening information. It does; however, make a great deal of cents. Cholesterol warfare is a multi-billion dollar global enterprise.

For the real story on c-c-c-c-c-c-cholesterol, and how to improve cholesterol profiles while simultaneously and expediently reducing each of the far more important biomarkers of heart disease risk mentioned in the leading paragraph, look no further than