Do you really need to control your cholesterol?


That is the big question, isn’t it?  Some believe cholesterol is bad, or at least, “bad” cholesterol is bad.  But is it really?  And what is “bad” cholesterol?  One of the biggest issues with cholesterol is that we’ve been lied to for decades about how bad cholesterol is and how we need to avoid certain foods because they’re high in cholesterol.
Originally, I set out to offer some solutions for lowering cholesterol because so many people ask me about it.  But the more I looked, the more I realized that lowering cholesterol is just not the answer they need.  So rather than give a long list of herbs and solutions to lower cholesterol, I thought I’d just offer the facts.
The truth about cholesterol may be a bit different than what you’ve been led to believe, as most of the Western world has been fooled.  Back in the ’60s & 70s we were convinced by Big Sugar that fat and cholesterol were bad for us and that we needed to stop eating meat or at least red meat and to change our milk to 2% or non-fat, and to eat margarine instead of butter, which led to one of the biggest health issues of our time with millions becoming obese and creating a Diabetes Epidemic that has made millions for drug companies as they’ve created statin drugs that doctors hand out religiously.

Now, with some of the latest studies and research, we’re finding this is not the truth.  Some experts, like Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM  (P) (acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine) who is also a prolific writer ad author of some of the most astounding medical and heatlh-related books are clearing the air.  Dr.  Sircus, whose methods are based on medical science and long years of clinical experience, not only his own but experiences of doctors from around the world who’ve been practicing brilliant medicine made a clear and concise statement about cholesterol. Cholesterol is not a harmful substance. In fact, it is an essential substance that is needed by every cell in the body. We cannot live without adequate amounts of cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol may not be bad for your heart after all. After years of warning consumers to cut down on cholesterol, found in eggs, shellfish, butter and beef, the nutrition community is coming full circle.  How many years it will take for doctors to do the same is anyone’s guess.(1)
A new draft of a report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee contains a monumental shift in warnings first issued nearly four decades ago, suggesting that cholesterol no longer needs to be viewed as a “nutrient of concern.”  The announcement is viewed as vindication for Nina Teicholz, author of the 2014 best-selling book “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.” (1)
The following is a summary given for her book:

“Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals here that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health. For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner, we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? Based on a nine-year investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community and the public’s imagination, and how recent findings have overturned these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans fats with something even worse. She upends the conventional wisdom with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat–including saturated fat–is what leads to better health and wellness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives.”–From publisher description.
The facts, according to recent research has shown that older adults with high LDL-C live longer than peers with low levels of the same cholesterol.   A University of South Florida professor and an international team of experts have found that older people with high levels of a certain type of cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C), live as long, and often longer, than their peers with low levels of this same cholesterol.   The findings came after analyzing past studies involving more than 68,000 participants over 60 years of age, which called into question the “cholesterol hypothesis” which previously suggested that people with high cholesterol are more at risk of dying and would need statin drugs to lower their cholesterol.(2) 
A statement from the British Medical Journal of June 2016, said, We have known for decades that high total cholesterol becomes a much weaker risk for cardiovascular disease with advancing age,” said Diamond. “In this analysis, we focused on the so-called “bad cholesterol” which has been blamed for contributing to heart disease.  It was also stated that “the research suggests that high cholesterol may be protective against disease which are common in the elderly.  For example, high levels of cholesterol are associated with a lower rate of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  Other studies have suggested that high LDL-C may protect against some often fatal diseases, such as cancer and infectious diseases, and that having low LDL-C may increase one’s susceptibility to these diseases. (2)

Dr. Dwight Lundell, former Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital in Arizona told the world not to take statin drugs.  “We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.(3)

“His frontal attack on the field of cardiology tears apart the practice of prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. Doctors in this field have been continually bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, all of which insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol. They were wrong. Unfortunately for too many people—dead wrong.” (3)

Another nail in the coffin for the diet-heart hypothesis came through a study from 42 European countries that found lower cardiovascular disease and mortality among countries that consumed more fats and animal protein.  Higher cardiovascular mortality was linked to “carbohydrate” consumption. (4) 


And what came out of those studies?

Key findings

  • Cholesterol levels were tightly correlated to the consumption of animal fats and proteins – Countries consuming more fat and protein from animal sources had higher incidence of raised cholesterol
  • Raised cholesterol correlated negatively with CVD risk – Countries with higher levels of raised cholesterol had fewer cases of CVD deaths and a lower incidence of CVD risk factors
  • Carbohydrates correlated positively with CVD risk – the more carbohydrates consumed (and especially those with high GI such as starches) the more CVD
  • Fat and Protein correlated negatively with CVD risk – Countries consuming more fat and protein from animal and plant sources had less CVD. The authors speculate that this is because increasing fat and protein in the diet generally displaces carbohydrates. 

These findings strikingly contradict the traditional ‘saturated fat hypothesis’, but in reality, they are compatible with the evidence accumulated from observational studies that point to both high glycaemic index and high glycaemic load (the amount of consumed carbohydrates × their glycaemic index) as important triggers of CVDs. The highest glycaemic indices (GI) out of all basic food sources can be found in potatoes and cereal products, which also have one of the highest food insulin indices (FII) that betray their ability to increase insulin levels. (4)

There is a fascinating correlation between so-called autoimmune conditions and low cholesterol levels.  It’s quite common with conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac, Chrons, Sjogren’s Syndrome and others to feature low serum cholesterol and lipoprotein levels and many studies support these.

A very interesting correlation exists between many different types of autoimmune diseases and the incidence of low cholesterol values. It is very common that autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes Type I, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Sjogren’s and others typically feature low serum cholesterol and lipoprotein profiles. A large body of medical research studies supports these findings.

Cholesterol is a vital anti-inflammatory lipid

“Various studies demonstrate that cholesterol is a potent anti-inflammatory lipid, which serves to inhibit the formation of pro-inflammatory fatty acids such as Leukotriene and Thromboxane, via the 5-LOX and 5-COX inflammatory pathways.
LDL has been incorrectly labeled as “bad cholesterol” and HDL as “good cholesterol”. These terms are of course fictitious. In reality, there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. It is important to understand that LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is not cholesterol. It is the carrier mechanism for cholesterol to the tissues. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) removes cholesterol from the tissues and returns it to the liver. In order for cholesterol’s anti-inflammatory effects to be utilized in the tissues where inflammation exists, LDL is the essential transport.(6)

The truth is, not only is cholesterol not dangerous but we need cholesterol.  It’s needed for the production of hormones and aids in their transportation. 

LDL Is Essential For Life Processes: Hormones, Reducing Infections

Besides functioning to transport cholesterol to the cells, LDL also carries powerful and essential antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamin E, CoQ10, A, D as well as phospholipids.  Additionally, LDL is required for the transport of cholesterol, which is used to synthesize steroidal hormones such as pregnenolone, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen and testosterone. (6)

Strong evidence suggests higher LDL cholesterol protects against cancer. “There may be a link between low levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—that is, not enough of it—and increased cancer risk, according to new research. Scientists at Tufts University looked at 201 cancer patients and 402 cancer-free patients. They found that cancer patients who never took cholesterol-lowering drugs on average had lower LDL cholesterol levels for an average of about 19 years prior to their cancer diagnosis. In other words, they were “healthier” according to the LDL demonizers in today’s medicine.
Previous studies, which looked at patients who did take cholesterol-lowering drugs, also suggested a strong link between low LDL cholesterol levels and higher cancer risk.

 Dr. Beverly Meyer, Clinical Nutritionist, MBA weighs in on the subject with the following.

I’ve studied heart disease and cholesterol science for several decades. Evidence supports that heart disease is both more complex (and simpler) than eating bacon and eggs. 
Cholesterol does NOT cause heart disease. Many, many independent studies confirm this. This article explains how even the USDA agreed with this in 2015. 

Heart Disease and Cholesterol Science?

Sound Bite #1). Cholesterol causes fatty deposits that clog arteries and impair blood flow, leading to a possible heart attack.
The Science: Cholesterol is part of the repair team sent to fix oxidative damage to the arteries. It is oxidation and inflammation from food, smoking, toxins, and drugs that damage the arteries. Cholesterol helps heal those irritated patches.
Sound Bite #2). All cholesterol is bad and Total Cholesterol must be under 200 or 150 on lab work.
The Science: The Liver makes huge amounts of cholesterol every day, in addition to the small amounts we get from food. Since we make Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone, Cortisol and Vitamin D out of Cholesterol the Liver makes sure we don’t run low. Post-menopausal women may have “elevated” cholesterol if they are not eating enough saturated fat to make hormones.
Sound Bite #3). Saturated fats are dangerous. 
The Science: We get saturated fats from eating animals – organ meats, animal fat, eggs and dairy. Humans have eaten these fats for a very long time. Many body systems depend on fats, including the cell membrane that surrounds and protects every cell in the body. Cholesterol is an anti-inflammatory against oxidized LDL particles. 
Sound Bite #4). Vegetable oils are good. 
The Science: Humans never ate factory processed oils from seeds until the 1950’s. Seed oils such as canola, sunflower and corn are extremely high in inflammatory Omega 6 fats. Better choices include nut and fruit oils such as olive, avocado, macadamia and tea seed oil (see my article on this). I eat a variety of pasture-raised ghee, lard, butter, fatty meats, pastured eggs and coconut oil with my organic olive, tea seed and avocado oils.(8)

So when it comes down to it, cholesterol is good for our health.  There is no “good” or “bad” cholesterol; it’s all needed.  Some have said the brain is made up of 90% fat of which about 65% is cholesterol.  Our brain needs cholesterol.  It provides anti-inflammatory protection that can protect us from autoimmune conditions, cancer and more.  It’s needed for hormone production and transportation of hormones.  While some may argue that high cholesterol will kill you, there is ample evidence that too little certainly will.

So before you are convinced that your doctor knows what they are saying about cholesterol, do some thorough research and learn the truth.  You need cholesterol and just because it’s high does not warrant statin drugs.  Dr. Sircus makes it clear, it is inflammation that causes heart disease and most of that comes from too many carbohydrates, not fat, not cholesterol.  Cholesterol is not dangerous, we need it for every cell in our bodies.

It’s time to stop being afraid of saturated fat and cholesterol!


Written by Douglas K. Johnson – Life, Health and Wellness Coach, Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Author
(1) Statin Disaster, Heart Disease and Magnesium, Published on March 16, 2015
(2) News Medical Life Sciences report from June 27, 2016

(3) Confessions of a Cardiologist – Treat the Inflammation not the Cholesterol, Dr. Mark Sircus July 17, 2015

(4) Carbohydrates, not animal fats, linked to heart disease across 42 European countries, Keir Watson November 19, 2017
(5) Heart Disease and Cholesterol | What Does the Science Say? (Beverly Meyer, Clinical Nutritionist, MBA

(6) Metabolic Healing – Autoimmune Conditions & LOW Cholesterol: Understanding Correlations / Michael McEvoy



The Statin Disaster by Dr. David Brownstein

The Cholesterol Myths : Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease by Uffe Ravnskov

Medical Disclaimer

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice.

If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 911 immediately.

The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are  affiliated.

Published by Douglas Johnson

I am a Life, Health and Wellness Coach, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Author & Chef

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