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Cholesterol – Good and Bad

Well known and respected Dr Mercola* was writing about cholesterol:

“High cholesterol has been associated with poor health and an increased risk of heart disease for the last two decades. This idea immediately spawned myths about saturated fats, which demonized certain categories of food, like eggs and healthy oils. Most physicians will advise you to keep your cholesterol levels as low as possible, or else suffer serious complications.

But did you know that high cholesterol is not necessarily a precursor to poor health nor is it an indicator of heart disease?

Conventional doctors neglect to tell you the truth: your body NEEDS cholesterol. And there are far better indicators of your heart health than just your total cholesterol level.

Back to Basics: What is the Purpose of Cholesterol?

About 75 percent of the cholesterol in your body is produced in your liver, while the other 25 percent is obtained from the foods you eat. This soft, waxy substance is essential for the production of:

  • Cell membranes
  • Hormones
  • Bile acids (for fat metabolism)
  • Vitamin D

Cholesterol also contributes to the formation of your memories and is crucial for your neurological function. Cholesterol also affects the formation of serotonin, a hormone that is involved in your mood regulation.

Studies have found that people with insufficient levels of cholesterol have a higher chance of developing depression and suicidal thoughts, while others may experience an increased capacity for violence and aggression. In extreme cases, low cholesterol can raise your risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

A rise in cholesterol levels, on the other hand, occurs in response to damaged cells. A high amount of this substance in your bloodstream just proves that your body is working to repair or create new cells.”

*Source:  Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels

 

So another topic that goes very well with the cholesterol topic is – to eat or not to eat so-called “heart healthy” margarines instead of the natural butter.

A well-known British author Zoe Harcombe* was writing recently about the so-called “healthy, cholesterol lowering” margarines and their effect on our health:

“My independent, unbiased, not-funded-by-drug-companies study of all 192 countries for which the World Health Organisation has data shows that the exact opposite is true. The higher one’s cholesterol level, the lower one’s risk of heart disease and vice versa. For men and women. For heart disease and all cause mortality.

There is nothing in the spread itself that would lower cholesterol (please remember we should never try to lower the body’s own production of cholesterol – but we’re working through this scenario to see what these spreads actually do). It is the plant sterols (…)  that can impact human cholesterol. These can be obtained in tablet form, so no one needs to consume spreads, even if they are misinformed enough to risk consuming plant sterol.

Think of plant sterols as plant cholesterol – just as we humans have human cholesterol. There are several types of plant cholesterol; together they are named plant sterols. A typical Western diet contains approximately 400-500 mg plant sterols, but little is taken up in the gut. Human and plant cholesterol compete for uptake in the gut. So, if too much plant sterol is consumed, human cholesterol falls.

I don’t know about you but I assume that my body is making the cholesterol that it needs and a plant is making the cholesterol that it needs. If we were supposed to be replacing human cholesterol with plant cholesterol I figure that there would be a natural process for this. But then ‘natural’ is rarely lucrative.

So yes, human cholesterol, which is what our blood test measures, will fall if we consume plant sterols but a) this is not natural b) we have no evidence that replacing our cholesterol with plant cholesterol will lower heart disease and c) we have no evidence that replacing our cholesterol with plant cholesterol is safe.”

If you are interested in reading the whole article please follow the link below:

* The British Heart Foundation & Flora pro.activ – an unhealthy relationship

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