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What Is Cholesterol?We may associate cholesterol with fatty foods, but most of the waxy substance is made by our own bodies.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me If I had an opinion on a story he’d seen about low cholesterol being linked to high suicide rates. So you can see that back in 2000 I wasn’t doing too badly and everything was in the right range, except resting heart rate which was on the high side and bizarrely LDL cholesterol was a little low! What is perhaps most interesting, is that last year I really went off the rails and put a load of weight on. Did you see the BBC had a story yetserday about the proposal to offer Statins etc to those at 55 or over because it’s more cost effective? Hi Lawraine, both being 7 does appear to be high, but cholesterol is only a correlated symptom of heart disease, not a risk factor (in my opinion). How do you think the results would be affected if you ate the same diet but were not fit and active?
I saw a program that showed how external appearance is no indicator of health as measured by fat deposits i.e a slim person with a poor diet (lots of convenience foods etc) can still have fatty deposits in an around internal organs.
Forgive my ignorance but would you know if cholesterol levels are any way an indicator of how much fat is stored in the body?
I don’t think that cholesterol levels are directly an indicator of how much fat is stored in the body, though I would guess that the 2 generally go hand in hand. Great post Colin, its amazing how people seem to instinctively think that meat must be bad for you.
Apart from the contrary dietary advice , his argument that higher cholesterol levels can be linked to longevity in other cultures ,and that lower levels are actually dangerous to the extent that they can increase the risks of cancer are persuasive , to say the least . Indeed you’re right James, but then it seems the world can only manage to economically feed 7Bn people by feeding them a poor diet. They did say at the time my LDL was below normal back then, but the advice seems to have changed recently.
I eat 3-4 whole eggs every morning, 5 days a week, plus I love high cholesterol food and my levels are in the normal range.
Those wishing to reduce their cholesterol through a change in diet should aim to consume less than 7% of their daily energy needs {metric units Joules (J) or (kJ), pre-SI calories (Cal) or (kcal)} from animal fat and fewer than 200 mg of cholesterol per day.
Although a diet high in saturated fat is the main cause of high blood cholesterol levels, high cholesterol in the diet can also raise blood cholesterol levels. When the Framingham study found a correlation between heart disease and cholesterol levels, the assumption became that eating eggs was bad, since eggs include high level of cholesterol. Over the last 18 months, I virtually eliminated (bad) saturated fat from my diet and my levels are now near normal (as others have said, dietary cholesterol is now thought irrelevant). If you read that Great Cholesterol Con book I mentioned, Dr Kendrick reveals that statins are *never* beneficial for women to take, not when you look at total mortality figures, so it looks like you made a good choice there. I appreciate the corrections and am rather embarrassed that I didn’t spot those typos myself. The cholesterol hypothesis links cholesterol intake and blood levels to cardiovascular disease. Apparently, the hypothesis is false and should be buried.The historical background to the hypothesis of a causal relationship between the level of serum cholesterol and the development of atherosclerosis beganwith Rudolf Virchow ’ s description (1856) of the atherosclerotic plaque with its cholesterol deposits.
Two publications by Ancel Keys had a tremendous impact on the general belief of the cholesterol hypothesis.
These studies showed clearly that there is no causal relationship between the cholesterol level in blood and the risk of dying from a myocardial infarction but the so-called cholesterol hypothesis is still alive. To answer that question, one must consider the pivotal role powerful drug companies have increasingly played in relevant research and publications. As pointed out in the newly published books, White Coat, Black Hat (Carl Elliot) and Medical Research for Hire (Jill Fisher) many of these trials are accomplished by Contract Research Organizations (CROs). In an excellent and unmasking article Michel de Lorgeril and Patricia Salen (7) reviewed and discussed the cholesterol-lowering drug trials published before and after the Vioxx affair was disclosed in 2005 (which resulted in new clinical research regulations).
A population based investigation in Sweden (9) including almost 2 million men and 2 million women found that despite a widespread and increasing utilization of statins during the years 1998 to 2002 there was no correlation to the incidence or mortality of acute myocardial infarction. In summary, we have now an overwhelming amount of scientific data that falsify the cholesterol myth.
Thanks for your comment Murat, I’ve editted it to improve the formatting, readability and highlighted some key points.
Add this blog to your feeds or put your e-mail in the box below and hit GO to subscribe by e-mail. Whole-milk Dairy Products: Saturated fat, which clogs arteries and increases LDL levels, is the No. Processed Meats: Bacon, sausage, liverwurst and the like are also wonderful sources of artery-clogging saturated fat.
Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans fatty acids, which act like saturated fats.
Baked goods, cold breakfast cereals, pretzels, and other snack foods, we are getting heart-disease-promoting trans fats and a high dose of acrylamides.
When MCT's are consumed they are processed by the body in a completely different way to long chain triglycerides.
I have turned to coconut milk as a means to provide B12 which has been recommended to increase TSH thyroid readings.
It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances.
As it happens I DID have an opinion on this, none of it complimentary about low cholesterol diets or Statins, the cholesterol lowering drugs.
We’re talking steak, fatty mince meat (ground beef), pork of all forms including roasts with crackling, and bacon, oh yes plenty of bacon! So much so, that my daughter now eats just like I do and when my friend asked me about low cholesterol issues, I resolved to get myself tested to prove that I was right, so I did and the results are back. I was starting to put weight on though on my fairly typical western diet of cereal for breakfast, sandwiches and crisps for lunch, and typically meat and 2 veg type dinner (or pasta, pizza, curry, Chinese etc), with an occasional desert. CrossFit got me exercising and onto the Zone Diet and then with heavy Paleo Diet influences + dairy. I never bothered much about cholesterol, but recently I thought I ought to get checked out. Unless you happen to have had a heart attack already, and are a middle aged, obese man, statins won’t help. I assume that this impact on health would show by increased blood pressure, resting heart rate and respiritory values.

Dietary cholesterol does not increase your LDL cholesterol level, I don’t know where you have heard that claim.
Our family has been identified as having hypercholesterolemia – pretty common in people in the North of England and Scotland, and genuinely scientifically proven in that they can observe the difference in how the body processes certain types of fat.
It has actually been a long time since GPs in the UK thought that the diet-heart-disease link applied to every individual. I suspect you already realise that $$$ is at the heart (pun intended!) of the statin pushing drug companies in the US.
I enjoyed reading all of this information, and applaud you for your intense research, and dedication to such a topic!
It has had enormous impact on health care and society during decades, but has little or no scientific backing that is relevant for the human species. Nikolai Anitchkov’ s experiment with rabbits in St Petersburg (1913) was a key publication. In 1953 he reported that the dietary intake of fat was significantly correlated to the serum cholesterol level and the incidence of cardiovascular death in six countries (1). It was found that the cholesterol level had been slightly increased after a heart attack in previously healthy men. Sachdeva and coworkers (5) found that the cholesterol level in patients with acute myocardial infarction was substantially lower than in normal controls at the same age. The most momentous arguments for keeping the idea alive are the reported beneficial effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs – the statins. Before the Vioxx scandal the dominating part of the published statin trials were highly positive, especially in the secondary prevention trials. This is in harmony with the meta-analysis of Ray et al (10) showing no prolongation of life by use of statins in randomized controlled trials involving 65 229 participants. Evidence is accumulating to implicate the harmful nature of these man-made fats in both cancer and heart disease.
Acrylamides are toxic, cancer-promoting compounds produced when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures. Dietary saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol and 25-year mortality form coronary heart disease; the Seven Countries Study. I always try to limit my consumption of coconut milk since it has saturated fat, but some epidemiological studies do not show any association between coconut saturated fat and heart disease. When we extract the oil from the whole food it was derived from we leave behind the lignin's, flavonoids, anti-oxidants, sterols, stanols and phytochemcials that make raw nuts and seeds so disease-protective. Fuhrman, you are the single professional in all my research who calls lauric a long chain fatty acid. They are much more water soluble and as a result can be readily absorbed across the small intestine wall into the blood stream for transportation direct to the liver. Joel Fuhrman, offering commentary & analysis on cancer, cardiovascular disease, healthy and unhealthy foods, depression, healthy parenting, obesity and other health-related issues. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Add to that cholesterol laden eggs, hard cheese, full fat soft cream cheese, sausages, fatty lamb (both leg and shoulder) and whole (full fat) milk, not to mention glorious double cream! This year I’ve sorted myself out and in 3 months have lost the weight I put on last year.
My HDL and LDL were both 7 something, which are very high, but the doc said that they cancelled each other out and I needn’t worry.
I think I’ll start carrying my test results in my wallet, show them to anyone who says that.
He fed rabbits with cholesterol from egg yolks and found that they developed atherosclerotic plaques containing cholesterol. It appeared very convincing but the problem was that these six countries were selected from all together 22 countries.
Therefore, it was claimed that high cholesterol was a risk factor for myocardial infarction.
Al-Mallah and coworkers (6) found lower LDL values in patients with acute myocardial infarction and also that the mortality rate was twice as high among patients with the lowest LDL values. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: An analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With the Guidelines. Low admission LDL-Cholesterol is associated with increased 2-years allcause mortality in Patients with non ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disase (Review) The Cochrana Collaboration. Statin and all cause mortality in high risk primary prevention: a meta-analysis of 11 randomised controlled trials involving 65,229 participants. Raw nuts and seeds (not roasted peanut butter or coconut oil) have been linked in more than 100 scientific studies to lower risk of heart disease and lower risk of cancer. MCT fatty acid molecules are smaller than other fatty acids and therefore require less energy and fewer enzymes to break them down for digestion.
I was told that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut milk are the "good ones" and I should not worry about it. At normal levels, cholesterol actually plays an important role in helping cells do their jobs. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. But I realised I hadn’t got my blood worked up since starting my new way of eating and so I did.
What if I’d been wrong all this time and was eating myself to death, however enjoyable it was doing so? When he tried with other animals –carnivores– it was not possible to reproduce the results.
Amazingly, very little attention was taken when the 30 years follow-up of the Framingham project was published(4). A Cochrane study including 14 primary prevention trials with statins was recently published (8). It turned out that high cholesterol was not a risk factor for men older than 47 years and not for women at all. Association between trans fatty acid intake and 10-year risk of coronary heart disease in the Zutphen Elderly study: a prospective population-based study. MCT fatty acids are broken down almost immediately (and NOT stored like other fats) by enzymes in saliva and gastric juices so that pancreatic fat digesting enzymes are not needed. Further, it was found that more men had died of a heart attack among those whose cholesterol had decreased over the years. Keys followed 12000 middle-aged men and recorded their diet and cholesterol values for many years.

Known as atherosclerosis, this condition narrows the space available for blood flow and can trigger heart disease. The good news is high cholesterol is simple to detect, and there are many ways to bring it down.
Cholesterol TestingPeople older than 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every four to six years. It measures the different forms of cholesterol that are circulating in the blood after you avoid eating for nine to 12 hours.
This is known as the bad cholesterol because it combines with other substances to clog the arteries. For most people, an LDL score below 100 is healthy, but people with heart disease may need to aim even lower. This is called good cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol, preventing it from building up inside the arteries.
TriglyceridesThe body converts excess calories, sugar, and alcohol into triglycerides, a type of fat that is carried in the blood and stored in fat cells throughout the body. People who are overweight, inactive, smokers, or heavy drinkers tend to have high triglycerides, as do those who eat a very high-carb diet. A triglycerides score of 150 or higher puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Total CholesterolTotal cholesterol measures the combination of LDL, HDL, and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) in your bloodstream. People who score in the "high" range have an increased risk of developing heart disease compared to those who score below 200. Cholesterol RatioTo calculate your cholesterol ratio, divide your total cholesterol by HDL cholesterol. For example, a total score of 200 divided by an HDL score of 50 equals a cholesterol ratio of 4 to 1. While this figure is useful in estimating heart disease risk, it's not as important in guiding treatment. Doctors look at total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol to determine treatment.
Cholesterol in FoodCholesterol-rich foods, like eggs, shrimp, and lobster are no longer completely forbidden. Research shows that the cholesterol we eat has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels for most people. A few people are "responders," whose blood levels spike up after eating eggs. But for most, saturated fat and trans fats are bigger concerns. Daily cholesterol limits are 300 mg for healthy people and 200 mg for those at higher risk.
Cholesterol and Family HistoryCholesterol comes from two sources -- the body and food -- and either one can contribute to high cholesterol.
Saturated fat and cholesterol occur in animal-based foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy products made with milk.
Cholesterol and ChildrenThere's evidence that cholesterol can begin clogging the arteries during childhood, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease later in life. The American Heart Association recommends kids and teenagers with high cholesterol take steps to bring it down. Why High Cholesterol MattersHigh cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes. As we saw earlier, high cholesterol leads to a buildup of plaque that narrows the arteries. If the blood supply to a part of the heart or brain is completely cut off, the result is a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol Buster: Eat More FiberDiet changes offer a powerful way to fight high cholesterol.
Good sources of soluble fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as kidney beans.
Cholesterol Buster: Know Your FatsNo more than 35% of your daily calories should come from fat. These two bad fats are found in many baked goods, fried foods (doughnuts, fries, chips), stick margarine, and cookies.
You may be able to reduce LDL cholesterol by switching to soy protein, such as tofu, at some meals. Some varieties, like salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve cholesterol levels. Cholesterol Buster: Low-Carb DietThere's growing evidence that low-carb diets may be better than low-fat diets for improving cholesterol levels. In a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, people who followed a low-carb plan had significantly better HDL (good cholesterol) levels than those who followed a low-fat plan. Cholesterol Buster: Lose WeightIf you're overweight, talk to your doctor about beginning a weight loss program. Shedding even a few pounds can also boost levels of good cholesterol -- it tends to go up one point for every 6 pounds you lose. Cholesterol Buster: Quit SmokingGiving up tobacco is tough, but here's one more reason to try. Cholesterol Buster: ExerciseIf you're healthy but not very active, starting an aerobic exercise program could increase your good cholesterol by 5% in the first two months. Choose an activity that boosts your heart rate, such as running, swimming, or walking briskly, and aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Treatment: MedicationsIf high cholesterol runs in your family, diet and exercise may not be enough to get your numbers where you want them. These include plant sterols, barley and oats, fiber, and green tea.  Herbal RemediesSome studies suggest garlic can knock a few percentage points off total cholesterol.
For people with diabetes or a high risk of developing heart disease, an LDL score of less than 100 is desirable.
If you already have heart disease or coronary artery disease, some doctors recommend reducing LDL to 70 or lower.
Can the Damage Be Undone?It takes years for high cholesterol to clog the arteries with plaque.
Dean Ornish, MD, has published several studies showing that a low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, and moderate exercise can chip away at the build-up inside the coronary arteries. Other research supports the idea that big drops in cholesterol can somewhat help open clogged arteries.

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