Cholesterol is not the enemy
More on why cholesterol is good for us and why the cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) are not:
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We are all usually provided with the same information about how cholesterol is “harmful” to us. But is it, really?
By show of hands: (I know. That won’t work as you’re viewing this.) How many of you think we would be better off without any cholesterol by completely getting rid of it out of us and out of our diets?
The truth is we would die without cholesterol.
To begin with, we need it for cell membrane integrity. It literally helps to hold our cells together. In other words, no cholesterol, no us. So even the strictest of vegetarians needs cholesterol to stay alive and healthy.
Surprised? I would be too if I hadn’t been studying up on it.
But LDL is still evil, isn’t it? Not really.
Cholesterol is flowing all through our body via arteries and veins. For example, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from the liver around the body to where it is needed. The issue at hand is a question of balance. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) also carry cholesterol. HDL carries excess cholesterol back away from cells for excretion. Both LDL and HDL carry cholesterol.
So how do we justify saying the cholesterol is “bad” when carried by one but not the other? It is the same cholesterol being carried in both cases, right?
Not exactly, and we'll explore this topic more below.
So what good does cholesterol do anyway?
This article describes the following in more detail:
1. Our cell membranes are made up of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. They make up 50% of the cell membranes and are what gives our cells the proper stiffness and integrity they need.
2. Saturated fats plus cholesterol are important for bone health as it’s needed to effectively incorporate calcium in to our bones; to that end, half of our dietary fats should be saturated.
3. The predecessor to Vitamin D and major hormones that regulate energy, stress, and sex hormone functions is Cholesterol.
4. Saturated fats plus cholesterol protect the liver from toxins (like alcohol and medications) in addition to lowering a substance in our blood known as Lp(a). Lp(a) is an indicator to how prone we are to developing heart disease.
5. Both saturated fats plus cholesterol enhance our immune systems. They also enhance our serotonin receptor functions and therefore act as an anti-depressant. In fact, those who don’t have enough cholesterol often exhibit aggressive behaviors, can be violent, tend to be depressed, and are suicidal.
6. Cholesterol plus saturated fats are needed for us to process fundamental fatty acids and some (like elongated omega-3 fatty acids) are better retained in our tissues with a diet rich in saturated fats.
7. Our hearts actually draw on a reserve of highly saturated fat found around the heart muscle during times of stress. The reason is because saturated 18-carbon stearic acid in addition to 16-carbon palmitic acid are the heart’s preferred foods and the acids are the reasons why the fat around the heart is saturated.
8. Cholesterol is essential for repairing and maintaining our intestinal walls. In fact, it prevents many intestinal disorders such as leaky gut syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Saturated fats (short and medium chain ones) also have important antimicrobial properties which also protects us from microorganisms that harm our digestive tracts.
9. It has been realized that cholesterol helps repair any arterial or free radical damage as it’s an essential anti-oxidant that helps protect us.
10. It’s been discovered that more than half our brains are composed of saturated fats and cholesterol. It’s also been found that babies as well as children very much need them both to develop healthy brains and nervous systems; so much so, in fact, that a mother’s natural milk contains a specialized enzyme so babies can properly metabolize and use the nutrient.
A disclaimer here.
As with anything we need, there can be too much of a good thing. Once again balance is the key. At no time will you read here that eating any one food can protect you from any and all problems. We encourage people to study, learn what correctly works for you and seek professional quality advice from health care providers who understand all aspects of health relevant for you.
Ever hear of a vein getting clogged with cholesterol? Me either.
As discussed above, cholesterol passes through our veins and arteries. Yet, we tend to only hear about it being an issue in our arteries. If it is the cause of artery plaque buildup, why doesn’t it clog veins? Maybe there’s a different cause. Oxidation might play a role. According to the article the preceding link leads to, cholesterol that is fried, in other words oxidized, sticks to the walls of blood vessels a lot easier. Oxidized implies the presence of oxygen. Our arteries carry blood rich in oxygen to where it is needed. Veins carry blood that has been depleted of oxygen. As with cholesterol, we need oxygen. They are not our enemies. The complex and miraculous balancing of nutrients is a key player.
Cholesterol is so important our livers make it for us. And that’s not all. Nearly every cell in the body can produce cholesterol as described in this article. So then if cholesterol is made throughout the body, maybe it’s actually really important to us (once again keeping everything in balance). This being the case, why is it so important? The list above helps to answer that question.
Plus, cholesterol is an alcohol. That’s right. We need a naturally occurring alcohol to live.
And I will offer a question of my own here: If drugs are taken to lower cholesterol, do those drugs affect only the cholesterol found in the blood or everywhere cholesterol gets made in the body? If I ever took cholesterol lowering drugs, that is a question I would put to my doctor, pharmacist and drug manufacturer if need be. I’m not saying never take those drugs. I’m saying study.
Natural cholesterol lowering.
Second pop quiz and study opportunity. What has the United States Food and Drug Administration classified as an unapproved drug? Give up? Walnuts. That’s right, walnuts. Why??? They have been demonstrated to safely help regulate cholesterol. Honestly, you can look this up with a search. Why would the FDA do that? Let’s put it this way. How many walnut growers are financially associated with that government agency except for being threatened with fines? None that I am aware of.
What else can bring it down? Garlic. To make this one work, we can test our friendships eating raw garlic every day or buy an odor free supplement.
And a summertime favorite, watermelon, can also help to lower cholesterol.
You are welcome to lookup that watermelon, garlic and walnuts do help lower cholesterol to confirm this for yourself.
A point to ponder.
If we really need all the drugs that are being advertised to us to survive, how did our ancestors ever make it without them? After all, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our ancestors. Consider this: Eskimos have an extremely high fat diet. They eat what is available. And yet, historically, their cardiovascular health has been outstanding. How? There is a difference between good and bad fats for us. Our nomadic and cave-dwelling ancestors did not have low-fat dietary options if they were meat eaters. And yet here we are.
Once again, we are in favor of a nutritious well-balanced diet along with consultations with professional health care providers for your needs.
The mirror test.
Look in the mirror. Who do you see? Do you see the director of your own health care team? If you do, congratulations! You take the responsibility of keeping yourself healthy seriously. Of course that involves much more than cholesterol and whether the “good” or “bad” cholesterol is up or down. But for now, some questions to put to your doctor might be:
- Why is it that some people, such as Eskimos, have had very healthy hearts with high fat foods until they started eating a more “modern” diet?
- What are the factors I should consider for planning a good diet for myself?
- How can I protect my children’s health with a good diet?
- You have spent years learning medical procedures. How much nutrition training were you given in medical school?
We would like to hear from you.
Please write to us with your thoughts about cholesterol in the comments section below:
- How much or little attention should be focused on cholesterol and nutrition as a whole?
- If you are a vegetarian, do you take supplements to boost nutrients normally found in meat?
- What other thoughts and feedback do you have for this topic?
More Cholesterol hubs can be found here:
- The Truth About Cholesterol
- The Cholesterol Lowering Roller Coaster - Is It Safe To Stay On?
- Alternative Ways to Lower Cholesterol Levels
- Healthly quick and easy garlic recipes to keep your cholesterol and heart healthy with your daily di
- How eating garlic in your daily diet can benefit the health of your heart and lower your cholesterol
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