By Erick Minor
“We have found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome.”
Walter Willet, MD, DrPH, Chairman-Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health
Conventional wisdom states, “High cholesterol is bad and we must take steps to lower cholesterol by avoiding fatty foods.” You’ve heard this so many times that you would assume this recommendation is based on reliable evidence. But at best, the evidence against saturated fat and cholesterol is shaky and indirect.
We’ve been led to believe that too much cholesterol is the leading risk factor for heart disease. With this information in hand, health conscious adults avoid saturated fat and cholesterol elevating foods in an effort to extend their life and improve their heart health. Your doctor is quick to prescribe a statin to get that cholesterol down to a “safe” level. Anyone who challenges this view is often believed to be a quack or someone in denial. As much as you have been beat over the head with this conventional wisdom, the science does not support these anti-cholesterol, anti-saturated fat theories.
This jaded view of fat and cholesterol deters many from following the most effective diet protocol ever; low carbohydrate, high fat diets. There is no dispute that low-carbohydrate diets are the most effective diets for body fat loss. But because of the incorrect fat and cholesterol theory, many people avoid such diets in fear of ruining their health.
The truth is, cholesterol has many important functions that are necessary for a healthy body and the current evidence shows that a diet consisting of plenty of good fats (and cholesterol) is far more healthy than low-fat, low cholesterol diets.
A few facts about fat, cholesterol, and heart disease
Elevated cholesterol and saturated animal fats are not the cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming tall trees for forest fires. In the case of heart disease, inflammation is the fire, and cholesterol is the tree. Too much inflammation causes things to go awry.
What causes arteriosclerosis?
According to the medical establishment, the presence of a sterol inside an artery wall is the cause of arteriosclerosis. There are many forms of sterols which are found in the body, cholesterol gets the most attention.
What’s in an artery clog?
Most of the material found in artery clogs consists of unsaturated fats and calcium as opposed to the “artery clogging saturated fats” that we assume. Too much calcium has been linked to artery clogs.
What causes sterols to attach to the artery wall, which causes atherosclerosis?
Inflammation is the primary cause of many negative health conditions. Inflammation is necessary to initiate recovery from injury and illness, but chronic inflammation creates havoc within the circulatory system. Chronic inflammation can cause damage to the artery walls which will cause sterols to attach to the damaged tissue.
6 Good Things you did not know about cholesterol
• Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D. When exposed to UVB sunlight, our skin converts cholesterol into Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important hormone that is vital to many metabolic functions and the prevention of disease.
• Infant brain development requires a significant amount of cholesterol and saturated fat. Mother’s milk (in a healthy woman) has 50 - 60% of its energy coming from fat, and of that fat; 35%-55% percent is saturated fat. The cholesterol in mother’s milk provides roughly six times the amount adults consumes.
• Cholesterol is a building block for hormones like estrogen and testosterone; these hormones are associated with youth and vitality.
• Cholesterol is vital for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain, serotonin is the happiness hormone. Low serotonin is linked to depression and aggressive behavior.
• Cholesterol acts as a powerful anti-oxidant that protects us from free radicals. Low cholesterol levels are directly linked to higher incidence of cancer and suicide.
• Cholesterol is produced by almost every cell of the body and ALL cells contain cholesterol within the cell wall. Cholesterol is required to maintain cell membrane stability and integrity.
Get most of your fats from these sources:
Wild caught fish high in omega-3
Extra virgin olive oil
Macadamia nut oil
Virgin Coconut oil
Grass-fed and wild game meats
Organic free-range poultry
High grade fish oil supplements
High grade Cod Liver Oil
So, saturated fat and cholesterol are not all bad. This does not give you a green light to consume unlimited amounts of any and every type of fat.
Fats to avoid:
Oxidized and rancid fats
Vegetable oils high in omega-6
Anything that contains trans-fats
Hydrogenated fats and oils
Deep fried foods, they contain trans-fats
If your goal is to maintain vitality and health, you must focus on doing things that minimize body fat. According to science writer Gary Taubes, “whatever makes us fat will make us sick.”
Don’t fear good fat or cholesterol.