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Cholesterol: Friend Or Foe? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD   
Sunday, 04 May 2008 19:17

Dutch Translation

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. --Voltaire

In our modern world, cholesterol has become almost a swear word. Thanks to the promoters of the diet-heart hypothesis, everybody "knows" that cholesterol is "evil" and has to be fought at every turn. If you believe the popular media, you would think that there is simply no level of cholesterol low enough. If you are over a certain age, you are likely to be tested for how much cholesterol you have in your blood. If it is higher than about 200 mg/100ml (5.1 mol/l), you may be prescribed a "cholesterol pill." Millions of people around the world take these pills, thinking that this way they are taking good care of their health. What these people don’t realize is just how far from the truth they are. The truth is that we humans cannot live without cholesterol. Let us see why.

Our bodies are made out of billions of cells. Almost every cell produces cholesterol all the time during all of our lives. Why? Because every cell of every organ has cholesterol as a part of its structure. Cholesterol is an integral and very important part of our cell membranes, the membranes that enclose each of our cells, and also of the membranes surrounding all the organelles inside the cell. What is cholesterol doing there? A number of things.

Structural Integrity

First of all, saturated fats and cholesterol make the membranes of the cells firm—without them the cells would become flabby and fluid. If we humans didn’t have cholesterol and saturated fats in the membranes of our cells, we would look like giant worms or slugs. And we are not talking about a few molecules of cholesterol here and there. In many cells, almost half of the cell membrane is made from cholesterol. Different kinds of cells in the body need different amounts of cholesterol, depending on their function and purpose. If the cell is part of a protective barrier, it will have a lot of cholesterol in it to make it strong, sturdy and resistant to any invasion. If a cell or an organelle inside the cell needs to be soft and fluid, it will have less cholesterol in its structure.

This ability of cholesterol and saturated fats to firm up and reinforce the tissues in the body is used by our blood vessels, particularly those that have to withstand the high pressure and turbulence of the blood flow. These are usually large or medium arteries in places where they divide or bend. The flow of blood pounding through these arteries forces them to incorporate a layer of cholesterol and saturated fat in the membranes, which makes it stronger, tougher and more rigid. These layers of cholesterol and fat are called fatty streaks. They are completely normal and form in all of us, starting from birth and sometimes even before we are born. Various indigenous populations around the world, who never suffer from heart disease, have plenty of fatty streaks in their blood vessels in old and young, including children. Fatty streaks are not indicative of the disease called atherosclerosis.

Lipid Lifesavers

All the cells in our bodies have to communicate with each other. How do they do that? They use proteins embedded into the membrane of the cell. How are these proteins fixed to the membrane? With the help of cholesterol and saturated fats! Cholesterol and stiff saturated fatty acids form so-called lipid rafts, which make little homes for every protein in the membrane and allow it to perform its functions. Without cholesterol and saturated fats, our cells would not be able to communicate with each other or to transport various molecules into and out of the cell. As a result, our bodies would not be able to function the way they do. The human brain is particularly rich in cholesterol: around 25 percent of all body cholesterol is accounted for by the brain. Every cell and every structure in the brain and the rest of our nervous system needs cholesterol, not only to build itself but also to accomplish its many functions. The developing brain and eyes of the fetus and a newborn infant require large amounts of cholesterol. If the fetus doesn’t get enough cholesterol during development, the child may be born with a congenital abnormality called cyclopean eye.1

Human breast milk provides a lot of cholesterol. Not only that, mother’s milk provides a specific enzyme to allow the baby’s digestive tract to absorb almost 100 percent of that cholesterol, because the developing brain and eyes of an infant require large amounts of it. Children deprived of cholesterol in infancy may end up with poor eyesight and brain function. Manufacturers of infant formulas are aware of this fact, but following the anti-cholesterol dogma, they produce formulas with virtually no cholesterol in them.

Vital Brain Matter

One of the most abundant materials in the brain and the rest of our nervous system is a fatty substance called myelin. Myelin coats every nerve cell and every nerve fiber like the insulating cover around electric wires. Apart from insulation, it provides nourishment and protection for every tiny structure in our brain and the rest of the nervous system. People who start losing their myelin develop a condition called multiple sclerosis. Well, 20 percent of myelin is cholesterol. If you start interfering with the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, you put the very structure of the brain and the rest of the nervous system under threat.

The synthesis of myelin in the brain is tightly connected with the synthesis of cholesterol. In my clinical experience, foods with high cholesterol and high animal fat content are an essential medicine for a person with multiple sclerosis. One of the most wonderful abilities we humans are blessed with is the ability to remember things—our human memory. How do we form memories? By our brain cells establishing connections with each other, called synapses. The more healthy synapses a person’s brain can make, the more mentally able and intelligent that person is. Scientists have discovered that synapse formation is almost entirely dependent on cholesterol, which is produced by the brain cells in a form called apolipoprotein E. Without the presence of this factor we cannot form synapses, and hence we would not be able to learn or remember anything. Memory loss is one of the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

In my clinic, I see growing numbers of people with memory loss who have been taking cholesterol- lowering pills. Dr Duane Graveline, MD, former NASA scientist and astronaut, suffered such memory loss while taking his cholesterol pill. He managed to save his memory by stopping the pill and eating lots of cholesterol-rich foods. Since then he has described his experience in his book, Lipitor: Thief of Memory, Statin Drugs and the Misguided War on Cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol in fresh eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods has been shown in scientific trials to improve memory in the elderly. In my clinical experience, any person with memory loss or learning problems needs to have plenty of these foods every single day in order to recover.

Necessary Product Of The Body

These foods give the body a hand in supplying cholesterol so it does not have to work as hard to produce its own. What a lot of people don’t realize is that most cholesterol in the body does not come from food! The body produces cholesterol as it is needed. Scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated that cholesterol from food has no effect whatsoever on the level of our blood cholesterol. Why? Because cholesterol is such an essential part of our human physiology that the body has very efficient mechanisms to keep blood cholesterol at a certain level.

When we eat more cholesterol, the body produces less; when we eat less cholesterol, the body produces more. As a raw material for making cholesterol the body can use carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which means that your pasta and bread can be used for making cholesterol in the body. It has been estimated that, in an average person, about 85 percent of blood cholesterol is produced by the body, while only 15 percent comes from food. So, even if you religiously follow a completely cholesterol-free diet, you will still have a lot of cholesterol in your body. However, cholesterol-lowering drugs are a completely different matter! They interfere with the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, and hence they do reduce the amount of cholesterol available for the body to use.

Dangers Of Low Cholesterol

If we do not take cholesterol-lowering drugs, most of us don’t have to worry about cholesterol. However, there are people whose bodies, for whatever reason, are unable to produce enough cholesterol. These people are prone to emotional instability and behavioral problems. Low blood cholesterol has been routinely recorded in criminals who have committed murder and other violent crimes, people with aggressive and violent personalities, people prone to suicide and people with aggressive social behavior and low self-control.

I would like to repeat what the late Oxford professor David Horrobin warned us about: "Reducing cholesterol in the population on a large scale could lead to a general shift to more violent patterns of behavior. Most of this increased violence would not result in death but in more aggression at work and in the family, more child abuse, more wife-beating and generally more unhappiness."

People whose bodies are unable to produce enough cholesterol do need to have plenty of foods rich in cholesterol in order to provide their organs with this essential-to-life substance.

What else does our body need all that cholesterol for?

Endocrine System

After the brain, the organs hungriest for cholesterol are our endocrine glands: adrenals and sex glands. They produce steroid hormones. Steroid hormones in the body are made from cholesterol: testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, androsterone, estrone, estradiol, corticosterone, aldosterone and others. These hormones accomplish a myriad of functions in the body, from regulation of our metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, brain, muscle and bone formation to behavior, emotions and reproduction. In our stressful modern lives we consume a lot of these hormones, leading to a condition called "adrenal exhaustion." This condition is diagnosed very often by naturopaths and other health practitioners. There are many herbal preparations on the market for adrenal exhaustion. However, the most important therapeutic measure is to provide your adrenal glands with plenty of dietary cholesterol.

Without cholesterol we would not be able to have children because every sex hormone in our bodies is made from cholesterol. A fair percentage of our infertility epidemic can be laid at the doorstep of the diet-heart hypothesis. The more eager we became to fight animal fats and cholesterol, the more problems with normal sexual development, fertility and reproduction we started to face. About a third of western men and women are infertile, and increasing numbers of our youngsters are growing up with abnormalities in their sex hormones. These abnormalities lead to many physical problems.

Recent research has "discovered" that eating full-cream dairy products cures infertility in women.2 Researchers found that women who drink whole milk and eat high-fat dairy products are more fertile than those who stick to low-fat products. Study leader Dr Jorge Chavarro, of the Harvard School of Public Health, emphasized: "Women wanting to conceive should examine their diet. They should consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods, for instance by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating cream, not low-fat yoghurt."

The Liver And Vitamin Regulation

One of the busiest organs in terms of cholesterol production in our bodies is the liver, which regulates the level of our blood cholesterol. The liver also puts a lot of cholesterol into bile production. Yes, bile is made out of cholesterol. Without bile we would not be able to digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Bile emulsifies fats; in other words, it mixes them with water, so that digestive enzymes can get to them. After it completes its mission, most of the bile gets reabsorbed in the digestive system and brought back to the liver for recycling. In fact, 95 percent of our bile is recycled because the building blocks of bile, one of which is cholesterol, are too precious for the body to waste. Nature doesn’t do anything without good reason. This example of the careful recycling of cholesterol alone should have given us a good idea about its importance for the body!

Bile is essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamin E. We cannot live without these vitamins. Apart from ensuring that fat-soluble vitamins get digested and absorbed properly, cholesterol is the major building block of one of these vitamins: vitamin D. Vitamin D is made from the cholesterol in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. In those times of the year when there isn’t much sunlight, we can get this vitamin from cholesterol-rich foods: cod liver oil, fish, shellfish, butter, lard and egg yolks. Our recent misguided fears of the sun and avoidance of cholesterol-rich foods have created an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the Western world.

Unfortunately, apart from sunlight and cholesterol-rich foods there is no other appropriate way to get vitamin D. Of course, there are supplements, but most of them contain vitamin D2, which is made by irradiating mushrooms and other plants. This vitamin is not the same as the natural vitamin D. It does not work as effectively and it is easy to get a toxic level of it. In fact, almost all cases of vitamin D toxicity ever recorded were cases where this synthetic vitamin D2 had been used. Toxicity is almost impossible with natural vitamin D obtained from sunlight or cholesterol-rich foods because the body knows how to deal with an excess of natural substances. What the body does not know how to deal with is an excess of synthetic vitamin D2.

Vitamin D has been designed to work as a team with another fat-soluble vitamin: vitamin A. That is why foods rich in one tend to be rich in the other. So, by taking cod liver oil, for example, we can obtain both vitamins at the same time. As we grow older, our ability to produce vitamin D in the skin under sunlight is considerably diminished. Taking foods rich in vitamin D is therefore particularly important for older people. For the rest of us, sensible sunbathing is a wonderful, healthy and enjoyable way of getting a good supply of vitamin D.

Skin cancer, blamed on sunshine, is not caused by the sun. It is caused by trans fats from vegetable oils and margarine and other toxins stored in the skin. In addition, some of the sunscreens that people use contain chemicals that have been proven to cause skin cancer3.

Immune System Health

Cholesterol is essential for our immune system to function properly. Animal experiments and human studies have demonstrated that immune cells rely on cholesterol in fighting infections and repairing themselves after the fight. In addition, LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), the so-called "bad" cholesterol, directly binds and inactivates dangerous bacterial toxins, preventing them from doing any damage in the body. One of the most lethal toxins is produced by a widely spread bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, which is the cause of MRSA (Methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a common hospital infection. This toxin can literally dissolve red blood cells. However, it does not work in the presence of LDL-cholesterol. People who fall prey to this toxin have low blood cholesterol. It has been recorded that people with high levels of cholesterol are protected from infections; they are four times less likely to contract AIDS, they rarely get common colds and they recover from infections more quickly than people with "normal" or low blood cholesterol.

People with low blood cholesterol are prone to various infections, suffer from them longer and are more likely to die from an infection. A diet rich in cholesterol has been demonstrated to improve these people’s ability to recover from infections. So, any person suffering from an acute or chronic infection needs to eat high-cholesterol foods to recover. Cod liver oil, the richest source of cholesterol (after caviar), has long been prized as the best remedy for the immune system. Those familiar with old medical literature will tell you that until the discovery of antibiotics, a common cure for tuberculosis was a daily mixture of raw egg yolks and fresh cream.

Varying Blood Cholesterol Levels

The question is, why do some people have more cholesterol in their blood than others, and why can the same person have different levels of cholesterol at different times of the day? Why is our level of cholesterol different in different seasons of the year? In winter it goes up and in the summer it goes down. Why is it that blood cholesterol goes through the roof in people after any surgery? Why does blood cholesterol go up when we have an infection? Why does it go up after dental treatment? Why does it go up when we are under stress? And why does it become normal when we are relaxed and feel well? The answer to all these questions is this: cholesterol is a healing agent in the body. When the body has some healing jobs to do, it produces cholesterol and sends it to the site of the damage. Depending on the time of day, the weather, the season and our exposure to various environmental agents, the damage to various tissues in the body varies. As a result, the production of cholesterol in the body also varies.

Since cholesterol is usually discussed in the context of disease and atherosclerosis, let us look at the blood vessels. Their inside walls are covered by a layer of cells called the endothelium. Any damaging agent we are exposed to will finish up in our bloodstream, whether it is a toxic chemical, an infectious organism, a free radical or anything else. Once such an agent is in the blood, what is it going to attack first? The endothelium, of course. The endothelium immediately sends a message to the liver. Whenever our liver receives a signal that a wound has been inflicted upon the endothelium somewhere in our vascular system, it gets into gear and sends cholesterol to the site of the damage in a shuttle, called LDL-cholesterol. Because this cholesterol travels from the liver to the wound in the form of LDL, our "science," in its wisdom calls LDL "bad" cholesterol. When the wound heals and the cholesterol is removed, it travels back to the liver in the form of HDLcholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Because this cholesterol travels away from the artery back to the liver, our misguided "science" calls it "good" cholesterol. This is like calling an ambulance travelling from the hospital to the patient a "bad ambulance," and the one travelling from the patient back to the hospital a "good ambulance."

But the situation has gotten even more ridiculous. The latest thing that our science has "discovered" is that not all LDL-cholesterol is so bad. Most of it is actually good. So, now we are told to call that part of LDL the "good bad cholesterol" and the rest of it the "bad bad cholesterol."

Marvelous Healing Agent

Why does the liver send cholesterol to the site of the injury? Because the body cannot clear the infection, remove toxic elements or heal the wound without cholesterol and fats. Any healing involves the birth, growth and functioning of thousands of cells: immune cells, endothelial cells and many others. As these cells, to a considerable degree, are made out of cholesterol and fats, they cannot form and grow without a good supply of these substances. When the cells are damaged, they require cholesterol and fats to repair themselves. It is a scientific fact that any scar tissue in the body contains good amounts of cholesterol.4

Another scientific fact is that cholesterol acts as an antioxidant in the body, dealing with free radical damage.5 Any wound in the body contains plenty of free radicals because the immune cells use these highly reactive molecules for destroying microbes and toxins. Excess free radicals have to be neutralized, and cholesterol is one of the natural substances that accomplishes this function.

When we have surgery, our tissues are cut and many small arteries, veins and capillaries get damaged. The liver receives a very strong signal from this damage, so it floods the body with LDL-cholesterol to clean and heal every little wound in our blood vessels. That is why blood cholesterol goes high after any surgical procedure. After dental treatment, in addition to the damage to the tissues, a lot of bacteria from the tooth and the gums finish up in the blood, attacking the inside walls of our blood vessels. Once again, the liver gets a strong signal from that damage and produces lots of healing cholesterol to deal with it, so the blood cholesterol goes up.

The same thing happens when we have an infection: LDL-cholesterol goes up to deal with the bacterial or viral attack.

Apart from the endothelium, our immune cells need cholesterol to function and to heal themselves after the fight with the infection.

Our stress hormones are made out of cholesterol in the body. Stressful situations increase our blood cholesterol levels because cholesterol is being sent to the adrenal glands for stress hormone production. Apart from that, when we are under stress, a storm of free radicals and other damaging biochemical reactions occur in the blood. So the liver works hard to produce and send out as much cholesterol as possible to deal with the free radical attack. In situations like this, your blood cholesterol will test high. In short, when we have a high blood cholesterol level, it means that the body is dealing with some kind of damage. The last thing we should do is interfere with this process! When the damage has been dealt with, the blood cholesterol will naturally go down. If we have an ongoing disease in the body that constantly inflicts damage, then the blood cholesterol will be permanently high. So, when a doctor finds high cholesterol in a patient, what this doctor should do is to look for the reason. The doctor should ask, "What is damaging the body so that the liver has to produce all that cholesterol to deal with the damage?" Unfortunately, instead of this sensible procedure, our doctors are trained to attack the cholesterol.

Many natural herbs, antioxidants and vitamins have an ability to reduce our blood cholesterol. How do they do that? By helping the body remove the damaging agents, be they free radicals, bacteria, viruses or toxins. As a result, the liver does not have to produce so much cholesterol to deal with the damage. At the same time, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, herbs and other natural remedies help to heal the wound. When the wound heals there is no need for high levels of cholesterol anymore, so the body removes it in the form of HDL-cholesterol or so-called "good" cholesterol. That is why herbs, vitamins, antioxidants and other natural remedies increase the level of HDL-cholesterol in the blood.

In conclusion, cholesterol is one of the most important substances in the body. We cannot live without it, let alone function well. The pernicious diet-heart hypothesis has vilified this essential substance. Unfortunately, this hypothesis has served many commercial and political interests far too well, so they ensure its long survival. However, the life of the diet-heart hypothesis is coming to an end as we become aware that cholesterol has been mistakenly blamed for the crime just because it was found at the scene.


Sidebars

Dietary Sources Of Cholesterol

  1. Caviar is the richest source; it provides 588 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. Obviously, this is not a common food for the majority of us, so let us have a look at the next item on the list.
  2. Cod liver oil follows closely with 570 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. There is no doubt that the cholesterol element of cod liver oil plays an important role in all the well-known health benefits of this time-honored health food.
  3. Fresh egg yolk takes third place, with 424 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. I would like to repeat: fresh egg yolk, not chemically mutilated egg powders (they contain chemically mutilated cholesterol)!
  4. Butter provides a good 218 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. We are talking about natural butter, not butter substitutes.
  5. Cold-water fish and shellfish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and shrimps, provide good amounts of cholesterol, ranging from 173 mg to 81 mg per 100 gram. The proponents of low-cholesterol diets tell you to replace meats with fish. Obviously, they are not aware of the fact that fish is almost twice as rich in cholesterol as meat.
  6. Lard provides 94 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. Other animal fats follow.

Vitamin D Deficiency

What does it mean for our bodies to be deficient in vitamin D? A long list of suffering:

  • Diabetes, as vitamin D is essential for blood sugar control
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Auto-immune illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rickets and osteomalacia
  • Muscle weakness and poor neuro-muscular coordination
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor immunity and susceptibility to infections
  • Hyperparathyroidism, which manifests itself as osteoporosis, kidney stones, depression, aches and pains, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and digestive abnormalities

References

  1. Strauss E. One-eyed animals implicate cholesterol in development. Science. 1998 Jun 5;280(5369):1528-9.
  2. Chavarro JI and others. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction, Issue 28, Feb 2007.
  3. According to one theory, trans fats interfere in the metabolism of omega-3 fats, making them ineffective in producing their derivative eicosanoids, which leads to many types of cancers, including skin cancer. Trans fats also interfere with enzyme systems that help protect the body against cancer. References for the relationship of trans fats to skin cancer include:
    Alberts et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell: fourth edition, NY: Garland Science, 2002; _An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the U.S. due to inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=11920550)
    Cancer. 2002 Mar 15;94(6):1867-75; _Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=8475009)
    Prev Med. 1993 Jan;22(1):132-40.
    Review; Berg JM, Tymoczko JL and Stryer L. Biochemistry, 2006; _Does sunlight prevent cancer? A systematic review._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16904314)
    Eur J Cancer. 2006 Sep;42(14):2222-32. Epub 2006 Aug 10. Review; _Does sunlight have a beneficial influence on certain cancers?_
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16595142)
    Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):132-9. Epub 2006 Feb 28. Revew; _Ecologic studies of solar UVB radiation and cancer mortality rates._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=1
    2899536
    )
    Recent Results Cancer Res. 2003;164:371-7. Review; _Geographic patterns of prostate cancer mortality. Evidence for a protective effect of ultraviolet radiation._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=1451068)
    Cancer. 1992 Dec 15;70(12):2861-9; Skrabanek P, McCormick J. Follies and fallacies in medicine.
    Tarragon Press, Glasgow, 1989; _Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_ui ds=15585788)
    Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S-88S. Review; _UV radiation and cancer prevention: what is the evidence?_
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16886
    683
    )
    Anticancer Res
    . 2006 Jul–Aug;26(4A):2723-7. Review; _Vitamin D and cancer._
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16886659)
    Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4A):2515-24. Review; Epstein SS. Unreasonable risk. 2001. Published by
    Environmental Toxicology, PO Box 11170, Chicago, USA.
  4. Pfohl M and others. Upregulation of cholesterol synthesis after acute myocardial infarction--is cholesterol a positive acute phase reactant? Atherosclerosis. 1999 Feb;142(2):389-93.
  5. Enig, MG. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. Bethesda Press, Silver Spring, MD, 2000.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2007.

About the Author

[authorbio:campbell-mcbride-natasha]

Comments (17)Add Comment
Herbalist
written by Lynda, Mar 15 2014
"Scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated that cholesterol from food has no effect whatsoever on the level of our blood cholesterol." Please can you point me to these studies with some references? I'm currently doing a research paper on this topic and these are exactly what I'm looking for, but I can't find them. Thanks.
treating high cholesterol
written by lilly monks, May 28 2013
I started taking almond oil in food items & green tea everyday to treating high cholesterol. What would be the next should i take to prevent this disease risk? Is lipitor medication useful in treating high cholesterol?
Cholesterol -- sustains life
written by hazel, Feb 28 2013
...perhaps "high" cholesterol results (the finagled way cholesterol numbers are presented)on blood tests should be interpreted as a flashing red light that we need to eat more, not less, animal fat...

And less (or no) unsaturated, polyunsaturated, or finagled fats.

And I'll also be avoiding most "foods" touted for agendized reasons ($$$) as good for us by US Gov: soy, starches, grains, sugars etc... the real culprits of bad health.
Cholesterol: Friend Or Foe?
written by Ashley, Feb 18 2013
This was a great Article, it sounds like Cholestrol does alot for are body. It sounds like its healthy for are immune systems. but, if you have a lower cholesterol level it could affect your behavoirs.
brilliant
written by dillon burns, Jan 15 2013
really fantastic article that instinctively resounds with me as true. i am 35 and have had high ldl for a couple of years and docs are saying i should consider statins. i've no intention of it, but makes me very happy to read this and feel vindicated. are we however, saying that high ldl cholesterol does not increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes? i am unclear about this. thanks!
dietary cholesterol vs. cholesterol produced by body
written by Robin, Dec 31 2013
I love and appreciate Dr. Campbell-McBride for all her work, and I learn something new every time I re-read this article. However, I am confused about one point. In a talk I heard by Dr. Campbell-McBride, and in a book I read by Dr. John R. Lee, it has been stated that dietary intake of cholesterol does NOT influence the amount of cholesterol made by the body (which is instead made by the liver in response to inflammation and damage). I know that cholesterol-rich foods are good for us, but I don't understand how this relates to our body's production of its own cholesterol when needed for hormone production or damage repair. Can anyone help me understand this point better?
Comment from Paul Heiselmann
written by tjboyd, Jan 16 2012
Dr. Campbell-McBride:
Thank you for your excellent and comprehensive article. I would like to comment on the 'Bad LDL and Good HDL' thing.

It's apparent that LDL cholesterol is sent out in small packages for all body healing. What more magnificient roll could the Creator have bestowed on this 'Bad Guy!' Excess cholesterol and rersidue then returns in larger HDL packages for re-cycling. I assume that the LDL (Bad!!??) is sent out in smaller packages because it's necessary, to efficiently do it in that manner. Wait a minute!...how can I (without an MD degree) assume that! Well, I guess because I figure that's the way nature has done it for millions of years!

I feel sure if we eat and live in way nature has determined, and don't get our body overloaded with 'junk,' all the cholesterol will be able to perform their roll, and LDL and HDL will work together to solve any problems. Of course if the cholesterol in the body gets overworked the body's doctor will advise patient on how to relieve the negative and overburdening pressure on it. Or will he!

I've read that when asked what amount of cholesterol or fat is 'best' for us 90% of grade school children said 'Zero.' And what could you expect from them, as that's all they've ever heard from the 'Almighty!' The real problem I'm afraid is the great majority of adults think similiar. The object is to keep them ignorant, especially with the 'LDL-HDL' bit, so they will 'be good little boys and girls' and not argue when prescribed their medicine. Or even try to understand!

I always wonder about the drug dominated 'Authorities.' Are they any different than politicians? Well yes of course, their only objective is 'to help the People.' On the other hand if you ask any politician what their only objective is the answer is...well..er..oh yes...."To help the People." Now where have I heard that before!
Great but needs an update.
written by Nathan, Dec 10 2011
This is a amazing article! My only gripe is the vitamin d topic. There are many D3 supplements available now, which is what we produce from the sun.
egg consumption
written by Ana Maria, Dec 04 2011
Great article - thank you. Can you please comment on egg consumption. Still a lot of confusion - is it safe to have eggs every day?

...
written by Joanna Bignell, Sep 28 2011
I have been advised to start taking meds for my cholesterol, my daughter told me to try the paleo way of eating first.
My numbers are
TC 250
HDL 43
TRG 236
LDL 160
NON - HDL 207
TC/HDL = 5.8
GLU=91

My question is this high cholesterol? and if its high do you think something else is wrong inside of me...
Vitamin C and cholesterol
written by Christine, May 31 2011
As further support for the benefit of antioxidants and vitamins for reducing the need to produce high levels of cholesterol, here's a link to a survey of Dr. Frederick Klenner's work with Vitamin C.

http://www.orthomed.com/klenner.htm

He made the following observation:

"Cholesterol not a problem, when daily intake of ascorbic acid is high.

Mention should be made of the role[54] played by vitamin C as a regulator of the rate at which cholesterol is formed in the body; deficiency of the vitamin speeding the formation of this substance. In experimental work, guinea pigs fed a diet free of ascorbic acid showed a 600 percent acceleration in cholesterol formation in the adrenal glands. Ten grams or more each day and then eat all the eggs you want. That is my schedule and my cholesterol remains normal, Russia has published many articles demonstrating these same benefits."

Questioning saturated fats and cholesterol for MS
written by Katharine Yousefi, Feb 12 2011
Yes an excellent article. I just have one comment with regards to the treatment of MS with cholesterol rich foods. I grew up eating eggs for breakfast and ate a pretty resonable diet, plenty of vegetables etc, yet developed MS in my early 20's. It took about 6 yrs and 4 relapses to finally figure out what was wrong with me. The day after my diagnosis I went out and bought a few books on alternative treatments for MS. One was by Dr.Roy Swanke and his protocol for the MS patient. http://www.swankmsdiet.org/ He spent 50 yrs and treated 5000 people successfully with his protocol and that was a very low saturated fat diet. No more than 10 to 15 grams a day. I immediatedly went on his diet plan and also over the years have also used Ayurveda and acupucture. I can safely say I have never had another relapse and that is over 12 yrs ago. I would say my diet is more relaxed these days with regards to how much Sat fat I eat and I do eat plenty of other fats like avacados, olive oil and more recently coconut oil.

Perfect
written by Kelsey, Jan 25 2011
This article is so well written and makes everything so clear! I have people asking me all the time about these things and this will be a great reference article. Thanks so much.
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written by majkinetor, Nov 22 2010
Great article. Cheers smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Ronny, Oct 25 2010
Well said, Lou. I would like to add that the analogy of the ambulence is very clever.
Thnak You Doctor Campbell-McBride
written by Lou, Mar 21 2010
On behalf of the valiant LDL-cholesterol who does so much to help us when we are at our sickest; Please accept our thanks and gratitude for setting the record straight as to who is our friend and, indirectly, who is our foe.

Calling LDL-cholesterol the "bad cholesterol" is not only, as you point out in so many ways, incorrect, and utterly unprofessional but reeks of the politically correct prostitution of science which is destroying organized science and with it our country.
Excellent!
written by Carla Reynolds, RN, Feb 19 2010
Wow!! This article is so well written and well organized, making great analogies also that help to form a very clear picture. I would like to thank Dr. Campbell-McBride for her dedication to her work and her own children. I intend to use much of this information in my health coaching sessions.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 19:07