Health Vitamins & Nutrition Centre, Langley BC
Is cholesterol really that bad for us?
  • December 12th, 2011
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  • Briony Martens
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  • 1 Comment
Lets start by taking a look at the actual purpose cholesterol serves in our body.

Cholesterol is made by virtually every single cell of your body, however most is made in the Liver, Intestines and reproductive organs.

Cholesterol serves 5 main roles in the body
1. Membrane integrity: so every single cell of your body is surrounded by a membrane and cholesterol is incorporated into that membrane to protect the cell from toxins and also to allow water to get into the cell.

2. Componenet of Bile: Bile is excreted into the small intestine, having a key role in fat digestion. Cholesterol is required to make Bile.

3. Steroid Hormones: Your steroid hormones include estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is required to make all of these hormones.

4. Vitamin D production: Even though all the advertising tells us that we get vitamin D from the sun we actually get vitamin D from cholesterol and it is sun exposure that converts the cholesterol in our skin into Vitamin D.

5. Antioxidant, yes thats right cholesterol actually helps to protect our tissues from damage.

So knowing what key roles cholesterol plays in our body and how essential it is for our health why all the drama and negativity association with cardiovascular disease?

First a little more about cholesterol, we can only get cholesterol from animal sourced foods, we can not get any from our vegetables, fruits or grains. So when you see on the label of processed foods or prepackaged meals that the product is "cholesterol free" we should ask ourselves should cholesterol even be in there in the first place. For example i once saw a package of dried nuts and fruit that said "cholesterol free" on it. Well ofcourse its cholesterol free, this company was just taking advantage of the fear and ignorance that society has over cholesterol and using it for marketing.

Your Doctors Office
Testing your cholesterol levels, what does it really mean?
Now for the last 30 years doctors have measured our blood cholesterol levels as predictors of cardiovascular disease. As it turns out these measures may be better business then prediction.

When cholesterol is transported throughout the body, through the blood, it is done in combination with other fats like triglycerides, as well as fat soluble vitamins. The bodies means for transporting these fats and vitamins from the liver to the bodies tissues are in what we call low density lipoproteins or LDL, and our body will collect cholesterol and other fats from our tissues and bring them back to the liver in high density lipoproteins or HDL. Therefore, both LDL and HDL have vital functions to fulfill.
According to the 'cholesterol theory' if your HDL levels are high your body is effectively removing excess cholesterol from the body and if your LDL levels are high it indicates that your body is being overloaded with cholesterol. Becuase HDL and LDL's transport more then just cholesterol there is an undeniable correlation between increased LDL in the blood to high triglycerides. So why would triglycerides be high? Due to a diet high in refined sugars and carbohyrates. Your body converts excess sugars into fat, that fat is then transported, via LDL, throughout the body to be deposited in the tissues.

What troubles me is there are still doctors today who insist that if your LDL levels are high you must go onto a cholesterol reduced diet. I am here to say that cholesterol is important we know it serves some very important functions in your body and we now know that it is not dietary cholesterol that raises our LDL levels, that has been shown over and over in many many studies done in the last 20 years. High LDL levels in blood are due to a diet high in refined carbodyrates and sugars.

Statins are one of the top prescribed medication in North America
So what do statin drugs do, they prevent your liver from making cholesterol. There are so many side effects associated with statin drugs becuase of all the vital functions cholesterol serves in your body. So how effective are statins at lowering your LDL levels, not very and the research shows that. Why are they not very effective, because LDL levels are high not due to cholesterol levels but due to high triglycerides or a diet high in refined carbs and sugars.

Briony Martens BSc. ROHP

"Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill" Udo Erasmus

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Comments:
Hugh said on February 10th, 2012:
"Hi Briony:

An excellent essay! Bang on!

Hugh McCallum"

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